Ringing in the New Year


Happy New Year!

Over the past two days I was on site to video tape a rare set of nine chime bells being returned to Channing Church in Newport, RI.  Channing is where my wife, the Rev. Amy Freedman, serves as minister.  The bells were removed during the restoration of the steeple, a project  which required the steeple be taken down stone by stone and rebuilt over the late Summer and Fall.  During construction the bells were sent to the Netherlands to be re-tuned. In addition to the original nine bells, a tenth bell was made.

Update: a reporter from one of the local papers took this video as well.  Shows me ringing the bell followed by the crane operator ringing it…

In this video you can see the bells lined up on our sidewalk, each being hoisted ‘up to the steeple with William Ellery Channing’s statue watching from behind, and finally the snow starting to fall as the last bell was lifted.  You’ll also see shiny bands on the undersides of the bells where grooves were etched to re-tune them.

Any growth lessons in here?

Here was a congregation of approximately 200 adults facing a steeple restoration project of over a million dollars.  With great clarity of vision (after an extensive visioning and vision affirming process) the congregation was determined to preserve its historic sanctuary.

Following this a small group of members worked to investigate and then secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants.  Grants were secured to help fund the steeple project, restore the floor of the sanctuary, and care for many historically significant stained glass windows.

I know there are people who thought the above were unattainable goals.  Without vision and leadership holding that vision I wonder what would have happened to the congregation.  Note that the steeple was at a point where there was growing risk of it literally falling down.  And we all know that crushing parishioners is a no no.

Watching the bells being returned to the newly rebuilt steeple was a reminder of both our potential and that balancing act of working to care for buildings while engaging in meaningful ministry.

As we ring in this new year I wish for all of our congregations that 2010 be a year of daring visions, a year of bold actions, of being so clear in mission and purpose that 5% walk out the door and 25% more walk in.  Too much? What about 1% out, 4% in?

May this be the year your leadership recognizes that  people are standing in line waiting for you to figure out how to make room for them in your congregation’s life, in your life.

May this be a year of  turning your congregation inside out.
May 2010 be a year of amazing growth!

What do you hope for this year? Do you have person visions and affirmations for 2010?

I hope you’ll take this opportunity to write out a few positive personal growth affirmations.  If your dreams were to come true, be they personal or related to our faith, what would that look like?

2 thoughts on “Ringing in the New Year”

  1. Good post Peter, thank you. Just to add to the information above, in addition to the grants, this Congregation also conducted a capital fundraising drive in which its members contributed nearly $400,000 toward the $1.2 million dollar total for the steeple and bells. This was done last year, when the “Great Recession” was weighing as heavily on this Congregation’s membership as on anyone else.

    Tom Beall

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