The Canton Presbyterian Church will rededicate the bell of its steeple on Sunday | St. Lawrence County
CANTON — On Sunday, the First Presbyterian Church in Canton Park will rededicate the bell in its steeple.
The bell, which weighs over 1,000 pounds, has been in the steeple since 1901, when it was donated to the church by Martha Manley in memory of her late husband, Gilbert.
For more than 50 years, due to a structural defect, the bell could not ring, according to the Reverend Michael P. Catanzaro, and was limited to a dark sound.
Fixing the bell was not high on the church’s to-do list, Reverend Catanzaro said.
It was a cold call from a church bell repair company, White’s Clock and Carillon Northeast of Pulaski, that got the congregation thinking about the possibilities,
“Theologically, the ability to make a happy noise to the Lord rather than a dark noise was quite significant,” Reverend Catanzaro said.
Within weeks, the congregation was able to raise the $8,000 needed to repair the bell brackets and replace a 100-year-old wooden wheel with a custom metal wheel and install a new rope. The repairs were completed in a single day, Reverend Catanzaro said, adding that White’s clock and chime were “great to work with”.
“By reclaiming this part of the church’s past, a future will be forged each Sunday as the worship service begins with a bell call as members of the congregation are invited to share in the fun of ‘Swinging The Bell’ “, Reverend Catanzaro wrote in a press release about the repair of the bell.
“It was turn-of-the-century Twitter,” Reverend Catanzaro said.
The bell would ring 20 minutes before the service, he said, so people would have time to get to church. At other times, it was used to alert people to some important news.
Fixing the bell, Reverend Catanzaro said, was a “want” rather than a need.
In the church bulletin, he explained why it was still important.
“Why should we do this,” he asked. “Frankly, it has been many decades, if not generations, since the sound of our bell has rung joyfully through the park, through the village and across the fields. It is the heart of our congregation that is the source of our work and mission as a church, not bells and whistles (pun intended).
“That said, the lessons learned from the recent restoration of the Park’s fountain showed us what we already knew to be true: symbols matter, as does place of honor, and honoring our history as a way to shape our future . Although difficult to measure, the intangible value of undertaking such an effort to “Swing the Bell!” would surely be known and felt in our own generation, and would resound powerfully in generations to come.
Mrs. Manley, who paid $375 to have the bell forged in 1901, wrote a letter to the pastor expressing her feelings about the donation on behalf of her late husband.
“May its notes ring pure and true, and I hope that one day, when they resound in the still, calm air, people will recognize in them the voice calling them to worship in their beautiful sanctuary. I also hope that pastor and people will hear within them a call of love, tenderness, and encouragement, which will unite them in thought and spirit, and bind them with cords of consideration, mutual aid, and earnest effort , so essential to the full realization of the true work of any house of worship, the work of the Lord, a work which was so near and so dear, and at the same time beautiful to the man in whose memory the bell is given.
The rededication of the bell will be part of the regular Sunday service which begins at 10 a.m.