CCUMC church bell moved in preparation for 150th anniversary

By Joshua Smith; additional reporting by Melanie Musselman

If many hands make light work, how many hands does it take to make an 1,800 pound bell seem like light work?

On Tuesday, five volunteers, Dallas Cunningham, Rick Chaffee, Bill Oetinger, Nick Fickes, and Bruce Bauer, along with a forklift, took on the “light work” of hauling the old church bell out of the basement of the Clay Center United Methodist Church. The bell was placed in the basement more than 20 years ago when the church’s original bell tower was taken down in 1999. In a bit of synchronicity, the father of one of the volunteers, Gail Bauer, was one of the churchgoers who helped take the bell down into the basement all those years ago.

According to the inscription on the bell, it was cast by the McShane Bell Foundry, at their Baltimore-based foundry in 1887. The foundry is still in operation and has produced more than 300,000 bells in their time. 

Current CCUMC Pastor Reuben Langat commented that back in Africa the church’s bell was significant for many reasons. His village didn’t have many watches or other time keeping devices, so the ring of the church bell meant that church was beginning soon.

The bell is now heading to Cincinnati, Ohio where it will be refurbished and placed in a new housing for display. The bell will then return to Clay Center to be put on display in front of Clay Center United Methodist Church in order to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church’s dedication in 2023.



Volunteers haul the old church bell out of the basement of the Clay Center United Methodist Church in preparation for the church’s upcoming 150th anniversary in 2023. (Photo by Melanie Musselman)