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Ringing with Gratitude

By Staff | May 6, 2020

JADE HEASLEY/The Luminary  Jeff Johnson of Montgomery rang the bell of the former Christ Lutheran Church as part of "Bells Across Pennsylvania." Johnson restored the bell with help from Sean Leet. The bell hasn't been rung in many years, and is believed to be the first time it's been rung since 1928 when a fire destroyed the original sanctuary and bell tower.

MONTGOMERY–At 7 o’clock in the evening on Sunday, May 3, bells rang out across Montgomery to thank emergency responders and medical personnel to help those with COVID-19 and to thank essential employees who have been going to work every day to keep society functioning. It was part of a statewide event called “Bells Across Pennsylvania.” The sound was beautiful as bells could be heard up and down the hillsides.

One of the truly historic moments was when the bell from the former Christ Lutheran Church on East Houston Avenue was rung for the first time in decades. It is believed to be the first time the bell has rung since 1928. Jeff Johnson of Montgomery, who rang the bell and restored it to working condition with the help of Sean Leet, shared some of the history of the church and the bell. Christ Lutheran Church was originally a brick structure that was built in 1889. The bell was cast in 1892 by the McShane Bell Company and hung in the bell tower.

Tragedy struck in March of 1928 when a fire devasted the main portion of the church. However, the 814-pound bell was spared along with the Sunday School extension that was added in 1927. When the church was reconstructed a bell tower wasn’t included, opting instead for a breathtaking, enormous stained-glass window depicting the Transfiguration of Christ.

For decades the bell has been mounted on the ground in front of the church, but was bolted in place and has remained unused until its recent restoration. The bell sounded clear and prefect despite being silent for what’s believed to be almost a century.

According to Luminary records, the church closed in 2012 and is now privately-owned property.