Bell returns home to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Marion

Refurbishment part of $300,000 renovation project

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MARION — A major renovation project at a Marion church is nearing completion this week as its 407-pound, solid bronze bell returned to its tower Friday.

Crews were at work Friday morning at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Marion hanging the bell into the tower, a moment long-anticipated by church officials and members of the congregation.

“We’ve got a nice, shiny bell sitting there in the sunlight,” said Bill O’Brien, head trustee at St. Paul’s. “It’s a big relief to finally have it back it and getting to the point where the project is almost done.”

The bell’s reconditioning and installation is a part of St. Paul’s $300,000 renovation project that undertook improving several aspects of the church, including the construction of a new bell tower onto the building, an upgrade to the stained glass windows as well as a refurbishment of its bronze bell.

O’Brien said the renovation project, which has been ongoing since this past spring, will continue over the course of the next month as all mortar joints within the building are fixed.

Work to install the bell continued throughout the day Friday as a worker from The Verdin Bell Co. — the Cincinnati, Ohio-based bell and clock manufacturer that reconditioned the bell — installed a carillon into the tower.

Greg Williamson, senior pastor at St. Paul’s, said the 15 church members who attended Friday’s installation were thrilled to see the bell return.

“I think once (the congregation) sees it, they will be really happy,” Williamson said. “They’ll be happy to have their parking lot back too.”

The bell was purchased in 1978 by two parishioners, OraLee and Leonard Grabau.

After her death in July 2016, OraLee Grabau had left behind a sizable donation to the church — enough to make the renovation possible, O’Brien said in an earlier Gazette article.

A dedication ceremony for the bell is scheduled to take place outside of the church, 917 27th St., on Sunday just before the 9 a.m. service. There, O’Brien said a member of the Grabau family will reveal the new bell.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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