Cressey Road United Methodist Church
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Making Disciples for Jesus Christ

Bell Removal

Pastor Arnold's Letter on the Bell Removal, August 27, 2004

For over 120 years the bell in our steeple has been joyfully calling us to worship, solemnly marking significant events, and fascinating children who delight in pulling its rope.  On August 27 the bell was removed from its lofty dwelling of 123 years and set gently on a trailer that Kevin Wormwood made especially for it.  There it will sit until it finds its new home in the bell tower of the church on Cressey Road.  (Bob Minor wondered if we would now be in line for the Nobel(l) prize.)  Jean Dolloff noted that it is the beginning of our move from this building to the one yet to be constructed. 

Thirty-five or so of us gathered before dawn to witness this historic event.  On the one hand, what we were seeing was the result of some careful strategy and planning.  Kevin said he had removed the bell sixty times in his mind.  He had recruited two friends (Michael Vallerie and Jim Martel) with whom he works as well as Dick Mason to help with the hoisting of the bell inside the steeple using the same beam as our ancestors used to hoist it into place in 1881 (the year the bell was struck in Boston).  The crane (owned and operated by Jim Harkins Quality Crane Services) drew the bell out of the belfry and lowered it to the waiting trailer.  It was an operation that would, no doubt, have been envied and appreciated by those responsible for putting the bell there in the first place.  Chuck Barr, Jim Conway, and Rob Story were also an integral part of this project.

On the other hand, we were witnessing a profoundly moving event.  This bell has meant so much to generations within the sound of its pealing.  During our time of prayer following this operation it was noted that the bell was rung at the conclusion of World War I and World War II.  It has been rung to mark weddings and funerals alike.  It has celebrated both times of joy and times of sorrow.  And it has rung each Sunday calling us to the weekly celebration of our Lord's resurrection.  It has been a reminder that while life changes around us our Lord and Savior is the same yesterday today and forever, and that gives us stability, hope, and purpose.

The bell is on a brief vacation but the truths that it has extolled over the years are still true.  Eighteen years before the bell was in place, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who spent many summers here in Gorham wrote a poem against the backdrop of the Civil War.  It included this stanza:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.

May our lives ring with that same message.  While our bell is silent for a brief time, may we noise abroad the Good News of God's love and God's plan of peace for all creation.

Yours in Christ,