Zion Lutheran Church re-dedicates historic bell

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Neighbors | Abby Slanker.Sarah Matkoskey was joined by her family at Zion Lutheran Church as she rang the renovated bell for the first time in 60 years on Sept. 24. Matkoskey donated the funds for the restoration of the bell in the name of her late husband, Charles Matkoskey.


Neighbors | Abby Slanker.Claudia Bair presented a history of Zion Lutheran Church’s bell, as Pastor Duane Jesse looked on, at a ceremony to re-dedicate and ring the bell on Sept. 24.


Neighbors | Abby Slanker.Zion Lutheran Church re-dedicated its historic church bell, which now sits outside the church, two days short of its 102nd birthday in a ceremony on Sept. 24.



Zion Lutheran Church re-dedicated and rang its historic church bell at a ceremony on Sept. 24, two days short of its 102nd birthday.

Pastor Duane Jesse welcomed the large crowd to the ceremony.

“Thank you for coming out today on such a special day. May we seek God’s blessing for the re-dedication of the bell. Sarah Matkoskey and her family have donated the funds for the restoration of the bell in the name of her late husband Charles Matkoskey. This is the first time the bell has been rung in 60 years. I do believe Sarah’s been working out for two weeks to prepare,” Jesse said.

Pastor Jesse then handed the floor over to Claudia Bair, who presented a history of the bell.

The bell was installed at Zion’s first building, at the southwest corner of Tippecanoe and Canfield Road in September of 1915, and was rung for the first time on Sept. 26, 1915. The bell was manufactured by the C. S. Bell Company of Hillsboro, Ohio. It remained in service until that property was sold and the church moved to its current location in early 1957.

Leadership at that time felt strongly enough about the bell that they wanted to salvage it out of the old church. It was an effort to get the bell out of the belfry because the bell bowl alone weighs 487 pounds.

The bell sat on a platform outside the church until it was put in storage for a large construction project in 1999.

“The renovated bell will be rung on special occasions here at the church. It will always remind us of where we came from - the small church on Tippecanoe Road. We will move on to the future while remembering the past,” Bair said.

Matkoskey was then introduced to ring the renovated bell for the first time.

“The traditional call to worship is seven tolls. Children, can you help Sarah count her seven tolls?” Jesse asked, as Matkoskey rang the bell.

A new platform for the bell was built by Ryan Hone Masonry and was designed to look like the bases of the arches holding up the front portico. The bell was sent to A Plus Powder Coaters in Columbiana for bead blasting and powder coating, and missing parts were sourced from Lower Bells in Loudon, Tenn.

The platform was paid for by memorial funds given by Anna Mae and Roy Wiff Jr. in memory of Roy Wiff and memorial funds given in memory John Bokesch.

“Zion Lutheran Church is a significant church in the Valley’s history, we’ve been around for 207 years and that bell called Christians to worship for about 40 years before being retired. It is a dear artifact of Zion’s staying power - and by Zion, I mean all the saints and sinners who have made this great church what it remains to be today and a testimony to God’s faithfulness to us,” Jesse said.

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