Pastor Joey Olsen blesses the 19th-century bell at Trinity United Methodist Church in February. (Courtesy photo)

Pastor Joey Olsen blesses the 19th-century bell at Trinity United Methodist Church in February. (Courtesy photo)

Once-silent church bell revived in at Trinity United

After past 20 years, historic fixture calls worshipers to services

SEQUIM — A bell that first called people to worship in 1890 at a church in the Dungeness area is ringing again at a Sequim church.

The bell had been silent for two decades at its current home, Trinity United Methodist Church, at 100 S. Blake Ave., next to Carrie Blake Community Park. Structural problems had led to removal of the church steeple in 2002, and the bell was placed in a closet inside the church, where it could be viewed through a window.

Church members Marilyn Derau and Marilyn Siebens sought to see the bell reactivated. They took their case to church leaders, offering donations to help cover the cost.

That got the ball rolling, and others pitched in.

The church’s board of trustees and its chairman, Andy Pitts, took the lead and maintained contact with the two women.

The cast-iron bell was placed on a brick pedestal in the parking lot traffic circle near the church’s main entrance.

Pitts, who designed the pedestal, also led the way in refurbishing the bell and creating a pulley system to operate it.

Estimated to weigh 250 pounds, the bell was cast in Seneca Falls, N.Y. It came by ship around Cape Horn to New Dungeness, a town west of the Dungeness River above Cline Spit.

The bell was installed at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church as its construction was completed in 1890.

Most of that community relocated in 1892 to land east of the river because boats serving the original site had trouble landing. The new location was called Dungeness.

The church made the move, erecting a new building and leaving the old structure — and the bell — behind. (The 1892 church closed in 1920; the building no longer exists.)

But the bell was not forgotten.

In 1895, Sequim’s first church, Trinity Methodist Episcopal, was built at what now is the corner of Sequim Avenue and Fir Street. The bell and framework from the abandoned New Dungeness church became part of this church.

In 1929, the Sequim church was razed and a larger one built on the same site. The bell survived the change.

Growth continued, and the current Trinity United Methodist Church — there had been a couple of name changes over the years — was built in 1991. The 1929 building now houses Olympic Theatre Arts.

The bell served its purpose in the new church for 11 years until the steeple removal.

The return of the bell was celebrated in a brief anointing and blessing ceremony conducted by Pastor Joey Olson at the conclusion of the church’s Feb. 27 service.

Then the two women who wanted the bell to ring again stepped up to end its long silence.

It is rung ahead of the 10 a.m. service each Sunday and on special occasions, Olson said.

Pitts said anyone who has not been trained could be injured trying to use the pulley system, and a lock has been installed.

________

Trinity United Methodist Church member Neil Parse contributed this story.

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