On Nov. 14, 1918, a few days after the signing of the armistice that ended the bloody battles of the First World War, a group of joyful young people climbed the bell tower of Trinity Lutheran church in Delta to celebrate.
Apparently the bells weren’t ringing loudly enough.
“The local neighbourhood was so excited that they climbed up in the bell tower and banged on it with hammers and other implements so hard that it cracked,” said Pastor Jennifer Wilson. “Their enthusiasm for the end of the war led to the destruction of the bell.”
The cracked bell still hangs in the church’s belfry, a silent reminder of all that was lost so many years ago. “It’s very meaningful to us,” said Horst Flemig, 80, a parishioner with Trinity Lutheran for 50 years.
Its surviving companion, however, will peal 100 times at sunset on Nov. 11, as part of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Bells of Peace, which asks churches to ring bells across Canada to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.
Joyce Flemig, 77, said the congregation tried to raise money to remove the bell from the belfry and have it placed outside as a historical marker, but the cost was too high.
“It’s very expensive,” said Joyce. (An application for a heritage grant from the B.C. government was rejected, said former congregation member Diane Hansen.)
The bell that survived the excitement of 1918 still rings every Sunday.
“The bell to me is a calling for the people to come, and knowing the history of the cracked bell makes it all the more pertinent given the 100th anniversary of the end of the war this year,” said Flemig.
“We’re inviting families to come and ring the bell in celebration and in hope for world peace now,” said Wilson. “We are inviting people of all ages, all cultures, all faiths to come and ring it.”
Wilson said the church has invited members of all churches and people of all ages to join the congregation in ringing the bell.
“Our congregation seeks to be about ringing bells of peace all the time, and this is part of the history of our community as a place where people can grow and learn about and celebrate the offering of peace.”
Horst Flemig, who will be helping anyone who comes on Sunday said, “I grew up in Germany and lost my Dad and uncles and grandfather because of the war and I think it’s a great thing that Canada does every year to commemorate the mrmistice. It is very meaningful to me.”
The public is invited to join the congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church at 4:15 pm on Sunday, Nov. 11 to participate.
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