Farewell, O Bell

The Bell that once announced that Edina Community Lutheran Church was called to worship was retired last week, and removed from the church property to be recycled.

In 1965 Pastor Francis Dale learned that the bell at his home congregation was available to go to a good home. The church near Benson, Minnesota was replacing the bell, forged in 1900, with a smaller one. He himself had rung this bell as a child.

Pastor Dale along with two members of the church, Archie Evenson and Harley Nielsen, drove to West Bank Lutheran Church just outside of Danvers, Minnesota and brought the 1,300 pound bell to its new home. A tower was designed by member, Foster Dunwiddie, and built at a cost of $2,800 from the memorial fund. The bell was dedicated after a Sunday worship service on September 11, 1966. The Minneapolis Star, the Lutheran Standard (the official magazine of the American Lutheran Church), and in Edina, The Courier all published articles about the bell at the time of its dedication, noting that this gift was a symbol of urban and rural church relations.

The bell had special meaning to many at ECLC, including Karen Amundson, whose father had grown up at the church near Danvers and was the uncle of Pastor Dale. Karen’s dad heard the same bell ringing at West Bank Lutheran that she later heard in Edina.

Pastor Dale intended that the bell would be rung 15 minutes prior to each worship service, and at the beginning and end of each service. The bell, however, did not ring long in its new home. Neighbors complained, and the bell was largely silent over the years. Eventually the bell mechanism degraded and became unbalanced so it would no longer ring, and the tower that held it became somewhat unsteady. While it was never a danger, the tower was torn down at the time of the last church renovation and the bell, long silent, was set in the garden near the church entrance.

Some long-time members enjoyed seeing the bell as a reminder of the past. Many also felt it deserved a better fate than sitting and rusting in the dirt. The Council of Ministers discussed the bell at length. Erecting some new platform would have been expensive. Ringing the bell would still be a problem in our location. Attempts to find a church that needed the bell were unsuccessful. Finally the Council unanimously supported recycling the bell, and it was removed last week. The bell was donated to Hauling For Hope, Inc., a community-focused scrap metal pick-up service serving the Twin City metro area which donates a portion of profits to help people with disabilities.

For the bell’s dedication, Pastor Dale wrote the following hymn:

God may this tower and bell
Together cast the spell
Of Thy pure love,
Ringing the Gospel sound
To people all around,
Reminding us of heaven above.
Bless this tower and bell.

O let this bell tower,
Ring in the Gospel hour
Each Sabbath morn.
Ring for the young and old.
Ring forth the love of God.
Ring clear and pure for everyone.
Bless this tower and bell.