Daisetta church bells awaken after two decades of silence, calling the faithful home

First Methodist Church in Daisetta is located at 301 Texas St., Daisetta.

For the residents of Daisetta, the bells at First Methodist Church hold a special significance. For the previous generation, they were a way for parents to keep track of time and ensure their children were home before nightfall. For the last 20 years, the bells have been silent.

The reason for their silence was a lightning strike that left the bells damaged, but something changed recently. A miracle occurred, some might say. The bells began to ring again.

Not only for the congregation at First Methodist Church, but many in the community of Daisetta, the bells coming back to life has been a cause for celebration. Having them repaired meant more than just the restoration of a piece of history. It was a call to return to their spiritual roots, to come back to the church that had been the center of their community for nearly a century.


Church bells ring at First Methodist Church in Daisetta after 20 years of silence. #daisettatx #daisetta #methodist #bluebonnetnews

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The bells were originally installed in 1981, according to church records. Kitty Key, the longest-serving church member, was determined to have the bells fixed, so she reached out to her nephew Rusty Key, who owns a vintage pinball machine company in Spring, Texas, called The Game Preserve. Rusty agreed to take a look at the church bell system, which is an electronic system, not actually brass or bronze bells.

In his examination, he found that a motor system for the clock that sets off the bells was no longer working and that a wire within the sound amplification system had burned up during the lightning strike. Rusty then reached out to Moss-Rowe, the original manufacturer of the bell system, located in California.

“The man that Rusty spoke with was Paul Rowe, the 85-year-old grandson of the original founder of the company. He remembered installing those bells at our church in 1981. He remembered it because of the unusual name of Daisetta,” Kitty said.

Rowe located a motor for the bell system and shipped it to Kitty Key, at no charge to the church. His gracious act nearly ended in disaster when the delivery person left the box outside in the rain. When Kitty found it, the box was partially submerged in water, but fortunately Rowe had packaged the motor well and it avoided any damage.

Rusty Key helped bring the bells back to life at First Methodist Church in Daisetta.

With the new motor installed and the broken wire repaired by Rusty Key, the next step was to test the bells. When they began sounding off in the community, the response from neighbors, many hearing the bells for the first time ever, was immediate.

On Kitty Key’s Facebook page, where she shared a video sampling of the bells, her friends in the Daisetta community responded with comments like, “Music to my heart. Thank you, Mrs. Kitty,” “Just as I remember it when I was a kid,” “Brings back childhood memories of living just down the street! What a blessing,” and “I love this so much. Speaks to my soul. Thank you.”

As the church is located in a residential community, at 301 Texas St., Daisetta, the bells are scheduled to only chime during the day and early evening. The first chime of the day is at 8 a.m. and the last is at 9 p.m. On Sundays, while church members are gathered for services, the bells are paused between the hours of 10 a.m. and noon, starting back up at 1 p.m.

Church membership has declined in recent years, but Kitty is hoping to see a resurgence in interest.

“Maybe this will be a ‘Hey, it’s time to go back home again.’ The bells will call people home to Daisetta or call them back to church. Maybe we will have a few extra people sitting on the pews soon,” she said.

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