Sunday, June 27, 2021

2021 Summer Tour (COVID Style)

Posted 6/2/21:  Join us at Christ United Methodist Church June 13th at 10:00am…

"The Wesley Bell Ringers will be celebrating Wesley Bell Ringer Sunday in person this year on June 13th. We are so excited to get back into church and ring for you. We are a diverse group with varying comfort levels and vaccination statuses. We are asking for the congregation to support us by wearing masks in service on June 13th. While we realize that local and church mask mandates and general comfort levels have relaxed, we as a choir have decided to continue wearing masks to make sure that each ringer feels safe and supported for the rest of this year. As the Director, I ask for this consideration from our congregation to show the youth of CUMC and our surrounding community that we care! Please join us in worship on the 13th and wear your masks!"
- Katie Lay, Director of The Wesley Bell Ringers

Ever since my first Wesley Bell Ringer concert, I'd always wondered what it would be like to be one of the teenagers ringing in front of me. I was so certain that when I finally made it into high school I would be a Wesley and go on the big summer tour and do all the dinners, rummage sales, and retreats. When I was finally old enough to join, I was so excited to play harder music, meet new friends and be a part of something as amazing as this organization. After the busy Christmas my freshman year, we started to prepare for our spring ring event and our much anticipated summer tour. We got new music, readied ourselves for the busy coming months and then: Boom. The world came to a screeching halt. “Two weeks of spring break!? No way!!'' I said to myself. But little did I know. 

I was sad to have no spring ring, and to not be able to meet for bells twice a week anymore, but I just sat and waited. Those two weeks turned into four, and those four weeks turned into 8 and before any of us knew it, the tour had come and gone. I missed bells, I missed my friends, my directors, the congregation, and I felt robbed of all the hard work we had done to prepare for the tour. I was angry, sad and it felt like the spark I felt for bells went out temporarily. I wanted to give up, I could've given up. But when we were told we could start back up in the fall, I knew that I couldn't.  I knew that we all had to keep this organization alive. I knew in the back of my mind that it wouldn't be a normal year with our classic activities and concerts. And we all knew that tour was most likely not an option, but we were all prepared for that. The group of kids standing before you are some of the most amazing, persevering, hard working people I know. Being able to stick with the choir over these last 14 months when you can't be certain about what next week will even look like is a truly remarkable feat. But every single week, we all come together for our four hours of rehearsal and we pretend that nothing is going on outside of those music room doors, everyone comes in with a smile on their face ready to ring, and it always made those sad days of online school trapped in our rooms just that little bit better.

The Wesley Bell Ringers have been an organization in this church for 57 years, and just this past Wednesday at our annual birthday dinner, the choir received its 500th ringer.  Five hundred teenagers have made a commitment to this choir over all these years and still here we are today, on our Wesley Bell Ringer Sunday performing in front of you again.  Another year without a tour is definitely a disheartening feeling. Another year of hard work with no big reward at the end. Most people would throw the towel in after having that happen two years in a row. But all of these kids and the hundreds of alumni who came before them know the real reason behind the magic of the choir... the real beauty of this organization isn't the big exciting tour in the summer, it's the laughs shared at every single practice. It's Anna making a joke and Katie not being able to control her laughter on the podium in front of us. It's the new friends you make every single year and getting to meet people you otherwise would never have crossed paths with.  And it’s the feeling inside when the whole choir finally gets that song to sound the way it should.  Most people will never get to experience something like this, and yet all of the teenagers in this room will walk away from their high school years thanking themselves for not walking away and giving up even in the hardest of times.

-Lily Chidester, Sophomore


Posted 6/8/21:  We are excited to announce The Wesley Bell Ringers summer concert schedule! With the pandemic still coming under control, we have decided to forgo our 2021 summer tour plans to travel out-of-state. Instead, we will be performing locally in Utah during the last week of June. We hope to see you in the audience!

Posted 6/25/21:  Back on the bus, y'all! Ready for a fun day on our local mini tour!  Throughout the week, we will perform at several local churches taking precautions like masking, social distancing, and playing outdoor concerts.  We will also manage to have a few fun activities to make it feel like a "real tour" including renting a movie theater, having a pool party, going zip lining, and rafting the Weber River.

Holladay United Church of Christ

St Paul United Methodist Church

Rafting the Weber River

During 2021, CUMC posted almost all Sunday sermons on the website so folks who could not attend in-person were able to view online at home.  Masks were encouraged for in-person attendees when COVID numbers were high and The Wesley Bell Ringers were among those taking extra precautions to keep the community safe.  We had to get creative this year for fundraising events, even skipping the Spring rummage sale, switching to online formats for some performances and finding alternatives for keeping traditions alive.  For the birthday dinner, we postponed several months and had it catered on the church's front lawn.  For the rose dinner, we reserved a restaurant that allowed our group social distancing and for the home concert, we asked the congregation to mask and hosted the cookie reception outdoors.