Q. During the church survey and subsequent town hall meetings, several parishioners voiced the desire for a working bell tower. The original artist’s depictions showed a building with two bell towers. What happened to these towers and will we have a working bell tower?
The parish survey taken in 2011-2012 formed the basis for the Master Plan that was completed in 2012. This plan defined three phases of our project. However, a bell tower was not included in any of the three phases. A bell tower does show up in the master plan in a list of alternatives which also included future school expansion, future rectory, connector corridor and future connection to Kings Highway. The master plan put the costs for a bell tower at $400,000 in 2012 dollars. Due to projected costs and low priority given by the parish as a whole to the idea of bell tower, it was never part of the original plan.
This does not mean that we cannot have the sound of bells at St. James, if it is important to our parishioners. Bell towers are only needed if large, expensive actual bells are used to make the sound. A church can have wonderful sounding bells without having a bell tower. With the technology available today, electronic bell systems can mimic a full carillon at a fraction of the cost of the old fashion bells from our forefather’s time. By doing this, we forego the expense of building a tower. The structure to contain an electronic bell system can be relatively small in size. This means it could be added to our property later without requiring any expensive designs or plans.
Many bell systems use digital recordings and computer programming that allow for scheduling of different sounds at different times of the day, or week, or even seasonally. The variety of hymns that can be played is only restricted by the package that is purchased. Such a system could be installed sometime in the future provided there is a group that wants to do the research and raise the funds.