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Monday, May 2, 2016

Gift makes bell choir possible

Friday, May 19, 2006

Edie Campe photos

(Top) The bell choir at Brazil's First United Methodist Church has been divided into two sections, Carillon and Bell Canto. Members of the Carillon section are (front row): Doris Pell, Shaun Short, Jerry Morgan, Andrew Atkinson (middle row) Melinda Cooper, Cathy Thompson, Allison Johansen (back row) Jim Thompson, Cheryl Thompson, Hazel Morthland, Nancy Jenks and Bill Morthland.

(Bottom) Members of the Bell Canto section are (front row): Doris Pell, Roberta Weliever, Eric Graves, Mary Goda (back row) Chuck Weliever, Janice Modesitt, Ann Gibson, Betty Clerk and Shaun Short. Not Pictured: Marcia Raab, Floy Galbraith and Robbie Mitchell.

What is that glorious sound coming from Brazil's First United Methodist Church?

June 4th will not be your average Sunday morning service. The brass will be shining, the ringers will be synchronous and the congregation will be listening.

The bells have been delivered and the thanks for the generous gift goes to a gentleman in Gaithersburg, Md.

Col. Edwin Withers, 94, was born in Brazil in 1911 and started attending the First United Methodist Church in 1922. He is the oldest surviving member of the church, according to the church's pastor, Tony Alstott.

Withers is a graduate of Brazil High School's Class of 1929, and Rose Hulman's Class of 1933.

Withers joined the military and served at various posts around the world before retiring in 1965.

After his wife passed away in 1995, he moved into the Asbury Continuing Care Community in Gaithersburg. He remarried in September 1999.

He has been able to keep a watchful eye on the church through its monthly newsletter, "The Wesleyan."

In the newsletter, members of the church presented the idea of creating a bell choir.

Withers apparently liked the idea and called Alstott.

During their conversation, they briefly discussed the finances available to fund the choir and persons wanting to join the choir.

According to Alstott, Withers asked him, "Would a donation of $10,000 be sufficient to fund the project?"

Alstott replied, "Yes, a donation of $10,000 would fund bells, tables and all the necessary accessories to start a bell choir."

The church received the donation and didn't waste any time.

Members of the bell choir are practicing and studying sheet music to prepare for their first performance on June 4 at the 9:30 Sunday Morning Worship.

The bell choir has been divided into two sections, Carillon and Bell Canto. Doris Pell is the director for both sections.

Members of the Carillon section include Andrew Atkinson, Melinda Cooper, Nancy Jenks, Allison Johansen, Jerry Morgan, Bill Morthland, Hazel Morthland, Shaun Short, Cathy Thompson, Cheryl Thompson and Jim Thompson.

Members of the Bell Canto section are Betty Clerk, Floy Galbraith, Ann Gibson, Mary Goda, Eric Graves, Robbie Mitchell, Janice Modesitt, Marcia Raab, Shaun Short, Chuck Weliever and Roberta Weliever.

"We are extremely grateful for the generosity of Col. Withers," said Alstott.

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