Please Join Us!
Bell choir practice is held on Wednesday nights beginning at 6:30 pm during the
months of September through May.
Anyone interested in learning more about bells, trying their hands ringing the bells and/or becoming
a member are encouraged to attend or call any member with questions.
Contact Ann Feltman at 854-3171 to schedule a performance.
History of the Bell Choir at American Lutheran Church, De Smet, SD
A handbell fund began in 1983 with a generous gift in memory of Betty Field. The balance of the cost for the bells was borrowed from reserve building funds. Other memorial gifts given to fund the new music ministry included Ruben Bjordahl, Gertrude Tibbetts, John Bester and Elmer Johnson.
On Sunday, January 22, 1984, Pat Unkenholz performed a handbell solo during offering. That afternoon Pat, who was a representative for Malmark Handbells, led a workshop introducing a large number of interested persons to the use of handbells. The weekly practices began. The first performance of handbells at ALC by their own Bell Choir was on February 5, 1984. They performed “Jesus Loves Me” as special music after the sermon. This was a two-octave choir and required nine members. The bulletin of April 19, 1984 lists the following members as playing at that service: Esther Junker, Cheryl Palmlund, Chris Wallum, Janet Davis, Betty Zell, Jeanne Gruenhagen, Wendy Sand, Lyle Anderson and Glen Davis. Pat Anderson was the director.
If memories are correct, there was a period of approximately two years after Pat moved from De Smet that the bells sat in storage. The next era of Bells started around 1989 when Deb Grismer moved to town and a new group of “Ding-a-lings” as they called themselves, revived the music ministry. The two octave choir continued through 1999 when a decision was made to add a third octave of bells. A fund-raising effort proved successful with the following people purchasing a bell in memory or honor of someone: Marion O. Johnson; Melanie Geyer; Melanie and Blake Koehlmoos; Al Moore; Brandon and Kaylee Grismer and Brian Malsam; Lisa, Wade, Jenney, Travis and Jennie Brenden; Jenny, Ryan and Joshua Kortemeyer.
Adding a third octave required adding two more members. The bell choir began performing three octave music in the Fall of 1999. When Deb moved from the area in 2001, the bell choir was determined to continue. The “Director” position was divided between members of the choir with Roxy Brenden taking over the checkbook/financial side and Janice Schardin coordinating the music.
The summer of 2003, the group assessed the need to provide maintenance to the actual bells. It was discovered that refurbishing of the bells should be completed about every 5 years depending on the use. This has never been done on the bells after 19 years of use. Therefore, a decision was made to send them in for the maintenance with the cost of $1,106.00 being covered by donations from the Memorial Fund Committee and ALC Women’s Group. Continued donations from memorials and ALC Women’s Group assisted with the upkeep and maintenance of the bells and a second refurbishing completed in 2012 for a cost of $1,835.
2018 marks the 35th year for the American Lutheran Church Bell Choir. The choir has progressed and is presently performing some Level 5 music (the highest level of music for three-octave bell choirs). Ann Feltman serves as music coordinator. The current members include and are listed from the bottom (larger bells) to the top (smaller bells). They are Cheryl Palmlund, Lindsay Nolte, Caleb Nolte, Jason Davis, Heidi Smith,Jean Wilkinson, Ann Feltman, Janet Davis, Kay Koehlmoos, Amy Hoefert, Sharry Knock, and Kathy Heller. Substitutes are Lisa Slater and Tristin Gruenhagen.
Bell choir practice is generally held on Wednesday nights beginning at 6:30 pm during the months of September through May. Anyone interested in learning more about bells, trying their hands ringing the bells and/or becoming a member are encouraged to attend or call any member with questions.