The bell tower at St. Paul's holds two different sets of bells. The set that can be seen from the street are stationary bells rung electronically by a keyboard inside the church. Located behind the louvers seen from the street, our change ringing bells, cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, were installed in November 2001. The octave of eight bells range in size from approximately 397 lbs to 1235 lbs and a new ringing room was constructed in the existing tower. The total weight of the tenor is 11-0-3. (This is the traditional way of expressing bell weights - the weight of the tenor bell or largest bell for each tower is listed inhundredweights.)
While there are thousands of towers in the United Kingdom, there are fewer than 60 towers in North America with change ringing bells and St. Paul's UMC is believed to be the first United Methodist Church in the world to have such bells.
As stated at the North American Guild of Change Ringers website: "Change ringing requires special bells, special 'music', and ordinary people who enjoy climbing towers, working as a team, and performing 'The Exercise.' The human ingredient is critical because change ringing is very different from playing a carillon or chime. It is not a single person sitting at a keyboard. There are no computers or electronic devices. Change ringing depends on real bells, each swung in a complete circle by a single person: six bells - six people, eight bells - eight people, usually standing in a circle. Bells for change ringing are hung in stout frames that allow the bells to swing through 360 degrees. Each bell is attached to a wooden wheel with a handmade rope running around it. The mechanism achieves such exquisite balance that ten-year-olds and octogenarians can control the largest bell easily. The harmonic richness of a swinging bell cannot be matched by the same bell hanging stationary, but each swinging bell requires one ringer's full attention."
Bell Practice is held every Monday evening from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and rotates between three Houston towers. For information about Change Ringing at St. Paul’s, contact Dawn Uebelhart.