The beautiful melody of church bells has been missing from one midtown Oklahoma City congregation. St. Luke's United Methodist Church is home to 42 Dutch bells, which had seen some serious wear and tear over the past 60 years. Now, though, they will be able to ring long into the future.
One of the largest arrays of bells in North America is taking to the sky once more. “The whole idea of a carillon is that it causes you to look up and it lifts your spirits,” says St. Luke’s senior pastor Dr. Bob Long.
Donated by the Harris family in 1956, the 42 bells have marked special, and somber, occasions for more than 60 years, but time has taken its toll. Long says, “We received an incredible gift from those who went before us, and now it is our turn to take care of it and refurbish it, and to know that they will be ringing long after we’re in the kingdom of Heaven.”
The St. Luke's carillon was in Cincinnati for repairs for a whole year, at the only American company qualified to work on the Dutch instruments. Long says it took less than a month, however, for church members to pledge the $2.5 million dollars needed for both the bells and a variety of other upgrades throughout the building, including new floors, seats, projectors, and more.
One of the best improvements, though, will be the electronic keyboard for bell ringers in the sanctuary. “We’ve always had to go 185 feet up in the air, how tall the tower is, to be able to manually pull the bells to make them ring,” Long says.
Regardless of the method, St. Luke's members cannot wait to hear the call to worship spread far and wide through the city. Debra Forshee says, “For us to be able to add something so significant to our community that is, on top of it, so historical, it’s thrilling. It’s beyond words.”
St. Luke's will officially ring in the newly installed carillon during a special service on Nov. 5, and they invite everyone to come ring the bells for themselves.