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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The separation of church and state was put aside in Rice Lake, and for a good reason. An area church finds a new use for a bell, destined to be forgotten in a nearby town hall building.
For members of Immanuel Lutheran Church, inspiration to repair an old bell came during the story a visiting pastor told during a Sunday sermon.
"As Hitler invaded various towns in Europe, the minute he would control the town he would send his soldiers up to the churches to remove the bells. He did not want to hear any bells ringing in any town that he occupied. The visiting pastor turned to our usher and said, this is a perfect time for us to ring our bell. The usher responded, I can't, I can't ring it because it's stuck," says Immanuel Lutheran Church member, Jerry VanZeeland.
So, they decided to make repairs to the old bell. VanZeeland says, "After we got the bell functioning, we realized it was very difficult to hear inside the church."
One day, VanZeeland and his wife were at a stop sign when they realized an old bell inside the Oak Grove Town Hall.
VanZeeland says, "So we attended one of their meeting, asked them if they ever rang their bell and the chairman said, "We have a bell in this building?"
When they learned the Oak Grove bell was never in use, they asked the town if they could do a trade, their 50lb. bell, for the town halls 250lb. bell.
"The only thing to seal the deal between Oak Grove and Immanuel Lutheran, they asked for a five dollar check," says VanZeeland.
The spacing between the posts in the church's tower is just 23 and a half inches.
VanZeeland says ,"The bell was 23 and a quarter inches. So the good Lord was smiling when he sized that bell for that tower."
Church member, Shirley Hathaway, says, "That will be wonderful if it can be heard throughout the countryside; perhaps it will attract people to our congregation which is very small."
VanZeeland says, "Here is this beautiful rural church, silent. And, I don't think Christians, should be silent, they have a message to deliver and that bell does an outstanding job in delivering that message."
Immanuel Lutheran will hold a bell dedication ceremony on September 22nd at 5:30pm.
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