Church chimes renew musical tradition

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 4, 2002

Features Editor

Brundidge is a unique community in many ways. Although it is a progressive town with a bright future, Brundidge holds on to many of the traditions that help keep community spirits high.

One of those traditions is the daily ringing of the chimes at Salem Baptist Church,

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The Salem chimes were a long-standing tradition but then stood silent for many years.

Nell McLendon said she’s not sure why the chimes stopped ringing, perhaps they just wore out. But those who remembered them wished to hear them again.

"It all started with a dream," McLendon said. "Some of us had heard chimes in other towns and we wanted to hear them again in Brundidge."

McLendon attended a wedding in Clayton and, just as she came out of the church, she heard the chimes.

"It was Christmas and the chimes were playing Christmas music and I knew we should have them in Brundidge again," she said.

As the idea was tossed around Salem Baptist Church, it was thought that perhaps acquiring the chimes could be a commemorative project.

McLendon researched the cost and made contact with a company in Ohio to get the ball rolling.

"We were at the point of asking people for commemorative donations," she said. "I saw Judy (Jackson) Mobley at a restaurant and mentioned the project to her. She didn’t say whether she was interested or not, but the next day she called me. She said if we weren’t too

far along with the project, she and her family would like to purchase the chimes as a memorial to her parents.

Bill and Maureen Jackson were killed in an automobile accident in February 1999. The couple owned and operated Jackson Hardware on Main Street in Brundidge for more than 50 years and were loved and respected by all who knew them.

"The Lord richly blessed our church and our community through the generosity of the Bill and Maureen’s children, Hatcher, Judy and Jenny Gilchrist and their families," McLendon said.

In March 2000, the chimes were installed, bringing back an old tradition in a new way.

The chimes are completely automated and are recordings of actual bells.

"The music is set automatically and changes with the seasons," McLendon said.

On special occasions, such as weddings and for patriotic holidays, the music has to be set manually.

Last weekend, the chimes were a part of the town’s Independence Day celebration. They played prior to the Salute to Veterans on Friday night and 30 minutes before the Independence Day Parade on Saturday.

"The Jackson family expressed to our church that they wanted the chimes to be for the entire community, not just Salem Baptist Church," McLendon said. "That’s the way Bill and Maureen would have wanted it, too."

The chimes can be heard daily at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 and 5 p.m. and on Sundays to signal church services. "Everyone seems to be thrilled to have the chimes as part of our community again."