Westminster Bells

The Paccard Bell Foundry, in Annecy, France, has cast 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 $1,095,000 with the installation.  The City of Bells, a local non-profit, and other bells aficionados in the community, are expected to contribute approximately one-third of the costs. The plan adopted by Session calls for the final 10% to come from other Westminster members.

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.

FAQs

Bells were part of the original vision for the Open Doors Open Futures new wing, and the late Jim Dayton, architect, believed they were a defining element of the design. Westminster focused first on raising funds for the new wing, and the bells were considered as an addition after a gift from outside Westminster in 2017 prompted several church members to step forward to help make the bells a reality.

Bells speak to individuals, churches and communities; they endure through time and speak to resilience and permanence.  By adding bells to its tower, Westminster will make a significant liturgical and civic contribution, and extend its Telling Presence.

On top of the newly constructed Rose Tower, which was designed to be completed by bells. They will be clearly visible.

There will be six bells, from the lowest of A (ten notes below middle C), to the highest of D.

The largest bell weighs 9,400 lbs., and will be six feet wide and tall.  The smallest bell weighs 500 lbs.  They are made of bronze, and the color will coordinate with the Granlund sculpture in the front of the church, and balance the towers on the other side.  They are operated by an electric motor, controlled by a cellphone app.  It will not be necessary to climb into the tower to operate the bells.

The Paccard Foundry in France has been casting bells for over 200 years and is renowned for traditional craftsmanship and quality.  The bells are designed to withstand weather extremes of all kinds – much like the exposed bells at St. Olaf downtown and at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville.

The bells will offer a random ring, as is often heard after wedding or funeral. They can also play simple tunes, such as – appropriately enough – Westminster Chimes.

Westminster will coordinate with neighbors and other churches to ensure we respect their concerns and wishes.

The final price is not yet complete; the original cost estimate was $850,000, firmer projections show it to be closer to $940,000 with the installation. Westminster is partnering with the City of Bells to fund the project and expects approximately $250,000 to be contributed by them and others in the community.

You may give online, via check (made out to “Westminster bells”), or with donor advised funds or stocks. Gifts of all sizes are welcome!  Contact Mary Hess with any questions.

You may also give via check. Make the check out to Westminster Presbyterian Church with  “Westminster Bells” in the memo line; or consider making a donation from your smartphone, by downloading and using the Tithe.ly app, available in the app store.