Congregation is ready to move on, Pastor says
The 65-pound bell of St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church hadn’t rung in nearly two years, but congregation members of the Snoqualmie Church sounded it loud and clear on Saturday, March 15, when they recovered the bell from the steeple.
The bell’s rescue was part of St. Clare’s final checklist as the congregation prepares to demolish their 80-year-old building, badly damaged by flooding in 2006 and 2007.
Pastor Patty Baker expects the demolition contractor, Nuprecon, to bring down the old structure sometime in the next four weeks.
St. Clare’s must be torn down because the basement and walls are filled with highly toxic mold, dangerous for small children and the elderly. The church now functions out of its parish social hall, where the church’s historic font, altar and aumbry — an ornate box containing the reserve sacraments of communion — have now been moved from the old, damaged building.
The half-cruciform church, built of cinder blocks with glass block windows, has been the Episcopal church’s home for 12 years.
“The metaphor is almost like having lost somebody, having somebody die,” Baker said.
“To take the building down, for us, is kind of like a burial,” she added.
On the morning of March 15, Steven Walter, general manager of Tanner Electric Cooperative in North Bend, volunteered his bucket truck to remove the historic bell, taking Baker up in the bucket.
When the church was occupied, the bell had always been run a half-dozen times every Sunday morning, but hadn’t rang since Pentecost of 2006.
“Right before we pulled it down, we rang it a couple of times,” Baker said.
“I wanted to see how it worked,” said Walter. He described the ring as “very loud – especially when your head’s about two feet away.”
The church may build a stand outside the parish hall so the bell tradition can start sounding again on Sundays.