Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Return of Wesley UMC's bells cheers El Reno


EL RENO, Okla. — After years of silence, the majesty of carillon bells and the Westminster chimes has returned to downtown El Reno.
Several years ago, Wesley United Methodist Church’s carillon system stopped working. Saddened by the loss of music filling the streets, one of the Sunday School classes started each week by singing with its doors open, hoping their voices could substitute for the bells’ silence.
Today the class singing continues, and the bells add their joyous sounds.
With funds donated in memory of some church members, Wesley Church purchased a new digital carillon system.
“We thought bringing the music back to El Reno was a great way to honor church members,” said Melanie Walker, a church trustee. “For decades, Wesley’s bells were known throughout the downtown area, and we wanted to bring back the sound.”
Trustee Mary Margaret Coats remembers the purchase of the original system in the 1970s; it was updated a couple of times, until it reached the point that it could not be repaired.
“Something was missing from our church when the bells stopped working,” Coats said, and “it’s exciting to hear the bells again after all these years.”  
The new system plays traditional chimes, now heard downtown every 15 minutes and on special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and holidays. Additionally, the system can play other songs such as the soundtrack for Vacation Bible School, contemporary Christmas music, or any digital track.
The Wesley UMC chimes can be heard between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.


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