This spring the Paccard Bell Foundry, in Annecy, France, will forge a six-bell peal for Westminster. Founded in 1796, Paccard has more than 120,000 bells ringing worldwide. They are described as the “Stradivarius” of bells.
Westminster’s bells – the largest will weigh 9,000 lbs. – will be installed in the new “Rose Tower.” For churches, bells evoke the divine, summon people to worship, and send them forth. They celebrate birth and marriage and mark mourning and loss. Bells give thanks to God and by their very resonance ground the faith of believers.
In civic uses, bells offer strength and history. They bind diverse peoples into one community, reminding us of our life together. Bells ring in solidarity, marking moments of local and national significance. They collaborate with outdoor festivals and concerts (one is planned with MN Orchestra in 2020).
Jim Dayton felt that the new wing would not be complete without bells to ring out Westminster’s Telling Presence in the City. His design presents the bells as a sculptural artwork even when not playing.
The original cost estimate was $850,000; firmer projections show it to be closer to $940,000 with the installation. The City of Bells, a local non-profit, is contributing more than one-quarter of the costs, with other funds coming from bell aficionados in the community and a few church members. The plan adopted by Session calls for the final 10% to come from other Westminster members.
On May 3, City of Bells is hosting a fundraising evening in Westminster Hall with Phillip Brunelle and Maria Jette, called A Tintinnabulation of Bells (using a word coined by Edgar Allan Poe). Tickets are $50 and may be purchased at cityofbells.com.
Westminster welcomes your support for this project. You may participate by making an online gift here, or send your donation to Westminster, with “bells” in the memo line.