Archive for Wednesday, March 17, 1999


March 17, 1999


A Baker University instructor is responsible for changing the rolls in the Carillon at the First United Methodist church.

Susan Buehler can hear the bells from the First United Methodist Church at her home a mile away. However, she knows the melodies are not made by bells.

Buehler, an instructor of music at Baker University, takes care of the church's Carillon chimes located in a back room of the sanctuary. The Carillon is connected to speakers in the church tower. Seasonal melodies, mostly hymns, ring out hourly -- except after midnight -- for all of the town to hear.

"Baldwinites are used to them," Buehler said. "Out-of-towners usually want to know where they are coming from. Most people can guess where they are coming from."

Buehler said the Carillon chimes, made by Schulmerich Carillons Inc., were donated to the church in 1963 by the children of William and Carrie Markham.

"Undoubtedly they went to church here, or thought a lot of church for their children to purchase the Carillon," she said.

When Buehler came to the church as an organist in 1984, the chimes were no longer working. Ten years later, memorial contributions from Margaret Boyd were dedicated toward repairing the chimes.

"It has been working ever since," Buehler said of the repairs made in 1994. "Since then we have tried to work it in the church budget for service."

However, service is not cheap. The nearest repairman for Schulmerich equipment is in Oklahoma, and he serves a four-state territory. Soon, he won't be able to service the church's Carillon at all, because parts are no longer available.

"The chimes leave off the very last note," Buehler said. A broken metal pin that cannot be replaced is to blame. "I know some people around town ask why it doesn't play the last note. I just encourage them to sing it."

Buehler is responsible for changing the rolls in the Carillon. She said there are different rolls for different times of year, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Lent, Pentecost and more. The Carillon system also is connected to the church organ, and Buehler will play the chimes every Sunday before church begins and at weddings or other occasions when requested.

Longer renditions of the chimes play at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m., and, as easy as it is to for the hourly bells to become part of life, people definitely notice when something is wrong, she said. Before Christmas, Buehler accidentally put in a roll of Christmas songs backward.

"A whole lot of people were asking what was going on with the chimes at the church," she said. "People do notice if something is not quite right with the chimes."

Buehler said it is time for the church to start thinking about a new, digital system so that the tradition can continue when the current system can no longer be repaired. The most current estimate she has for another Schulmerich system is $1,500, but the estimate is several years old. She imagines the price may be as high as $2,000 now.

"I think the people of Baldwin truly appreciate them," she said of the chimes.

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