At last Sunday’s service in the Oak Bluffs Trinity Church on the Camp Ground, Hezekiah began ringing again. The bell atop the belfry began ringing as it had rung back in 1966 before it suffered a fall, its yoke broken from old age.
For 16 years the 1,500-pound bell, made in 1888, lay dormant at the foot of its base. As a poor substitute, the bell’s sound was replaced by an electronic recording.
Now after two seasons of fund raising and two months of hard work replacing rotten timbers and installing a new yoke, the bell is alive and ringing.
Last Sunday Rev. Richard D. Bell, the pastor at the church, read a litany for the rededication, the congregation bowed in prayer and Frank Madeiras, a church trustee and bell ringer, began pulling the rope that rose to the top of the belfry.
“It was a very emotional moment for our church elders,” said Miss Marguerite Bergstrom of Vineyard Haven, chairman of the church bell restoration committee. “People were very touched.”
Miss Bergstrom said that the work on the bell wasn’t finished until the day before Thanksgiving and that it was very special to have it ring on the first Sunday of Advent.
Fund raising for the $4,000 needed to repair the church was begun last March when members of the church and community expressed a renewed interest in the bell’s plight. Miss Bergstrom said that the fund raising fell short of the goal at the time of the repairs. But when the bell began ringing again, she said, an anonymous donor came forward to help.
The church plans to have a more formal rededication for the bell and honor its donors next summer. Next year Hezekiah will again ring the beginning of Illumination Night.