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By Voda Beth Gradine
The Covenant Ringers of the First United Methodist Church have started their 44-year as a bell choir.
Patty Kirkpatrick was the founder and director of the bell choir for many years. In the 100-Year History of First United Methodist Church published in 2009, Patty wrote: “I heard about handbells. A friend said the church should buy some as they were a lovely addition to a worship service. The congregation was supportive, money was raised, and the bells ordered. None of us had ever held a handbell. I went to a five day handbell conference in Dallas, ordered music, and in the beginning eight women came to ring. What a musical revelation!”
Eight women started the FUMC bell choir and included Mattie Collier, Barbara Babb, Janie Davis, Maury Shiver, Margaret Bull, Patsy Bilbo, Zoe Kirkpatrick, and Janet Peel. The choir soon grew to 12 and later to 13 bell ringers. Today the choir is 14 strong including the director, Diann Windham.
There are five octaves of bells. They range from C8 which is above the fifth bar above the treble clef to the C3 that is on the second bar below the bass clef. They are made of brass and must be polished or wiped down good after every playing. The ringers must wear gloves to protect the bells. Chimes were added several years ago. There are five octaves of chimes too.
Over the years the bell choir has traveled to other local and area churches to perform. They also attended a bell choir clinic in Abilene for many years. It’s a major production to pack tables, stands, bells, chimes, music, and extra equipment just to perform one or two musical selections.
The Annual Community Christmas Pageant, hosted by FUMC, has always been the second Wednesday of December bringing together all the local churches to celebrate the season with traditional music.
Bell ringers this year include Christie Windham, Amy Pennell, Koreen Guillermo, Voda Beth Gradine, Delores Redman, Jan Bartlett, Janice Plummer, Marci Oden, Lisa Kirkpatrick, Alexa Collier, Arron Rathbun and Will Moncrief.
Everyone is welcome to come hear the Covenant Ringers at FUMC.
The first concert this year is scheduled for November 14 a 11 a.m.