Church Bells Survived OKC Bombing, Now Being Replaced

Friday, April 10th 2015, 5:13 pm
By: News 9

The First United Methodist Church at N.W. 4th Street and Robinson Avenue sits almost directly across from the spot where the bomb went off 20 years ago.

The church was heavily damaged, but the bell tower, and the bells inside, survived.

The bells have served as the signature sound of Oklahoma City's first church since 1922.

Eleven bells harkened back to a simpler time.

"They are manually handled, you push the handle down, it pulls a rope, and brings the clapper against the side of the bell," Don Kuntze explained.

They fell silent about four years ago when church staff found the structure had been compromised due to the weather over the years.

"The bells weigh 10,000 pounds all together," but Kuntze said. The true weight of the bells is perhaps not measured in pounds, but in what they have withstood; the test of time, and much more, Kuntze added.

The bells survived the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19, 1995. The church however, was severely damaged during the bombing.

The impact lifted the church's roof from the building, split the rafters, and destroyed 50 stained glass windows.

Remarkably, the bell tower was untouched, offering a symbol of hope to the congregation and beyond.

"The bells are a part of the downtown history and we used to ring them often," said Kuntze.

Now, Kuntze and a restoration team are working to preserve the piece of history.

"We will just take them out one at a time," he explained. A crane will remove them on Saturday. “When it's all repaired we hope to just bring the bells back."

And, once again, the bells will ring true to the spirit of Oklahoma.

"This is a part of our church. And when they are back ringing I know it's going to bring a lot of joy to a lot of people," said Kuntze.