A Bell Rings in Ghana, Oct. 1960
This article entitled “A Bell Rings in Ghana” was published in the October 1960 issue of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board’s Commission magazine vol.23
A bell that once called worshipers to church in Georgia now rings the same appeal for a Baptist church in Ghana.
The story of how the bell got from Atlanta to Africa began last October when Dr. George M. Faile, Jr., a Southern Baptist missionary, wrote to Dr. Louie D. Newton, pastor of Druid Hills Baptist Church, about a new church being built in Nalerigu. Dr. Faile closed his letter: “How we do wish we had a bell for the steeple.”
Dr. Newton narrates what happened: “The next Sunday morning I read the letter to the congregation, as I always read letters from our missionaries to the people, and when I got to the sentence about the bell, I said: “Who will find a bell for the church in Nalerigu?”
“Three hands went up and I discovered that they were all Carmichael children. After the service they came right down and said: “We’ll give you the bell in our yard.’”
The Dan L. Carmichaels had bought the bell seven years earlier and given it to the children in their playhouse, where the young Carmichaels and other children in the neighborhood “played church.” The bell, cast in 1889 in Hillsboro, Ohio had seen seventy years’ service as a church bell in a middle Georgia community that “dried up” when its residents moved to town.
Druid Hills Church then held a dedicatory service for the bell and soon shipped it across the Atlantic for its new lease on life in the West African nation.
When the Baptists of Nalerigu uncrated the gift at the close of the year their reaction, Dr. Faile reported, was that “All wanted to ring it at the same time. All agree that it has a fine resonant tone which can be heard all over Nalerigu.”
“Incidentally, “ Dr. Faile continued, “the Ghana census has just been taken and we are told that there are 185 compounds in Nalerigu with approximately 2,500 people. All of them can hear the church bell without any trouble.”
The bell was not put into service immediately, however, as the building is still under construction Dr Faile wrote while the structure was being completed: “The bell has not been installed yet, because we did not want to have a carpenter’s hammer fall on it or, perhaps, the carpenter himself to fall!”
Then came the long-awaited day. Dr. Faile later wrote: “We dedicated our new building on July 10 amid colorful festivities. Approximately 700 people attended, including fraternal representatives of other missions and churches in Ghana, members of Parliament, the junior minister of information and broadcasting, the Nayiri (paramount chief of the Mamprusi tribe), and several local dignitaries.
“The 70-year-old bell sent to us from Druid Hills was dedicated and rang out for the first time. There was much interest in the bell. Reporters from the Ghana Information Service and the Ghana News Agency were on hand, and they broadcast news of the service on the nation-wide Radio Ghana.”
The Nalerigu church also held its first baptismal service on the afternoon of the dedication day, with twenty-two converts baptized by Missionary Hudson Favell, then chaplain at the Baptist Medical Center in Nalerigu. “These came from Nalerigu and two villages where our members go for preaching services,” Dr. Faile added. Among them was Peter Goldie, oldest son of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Goldie, missionary physician and nurse at the Medical Center.
The Georgia bell’s new church home – and that of the Ghanaian Baptists in Nalerigu – was described by Dr. Faile: “Our new building contains seating space for 300 to 350 people. It is built in native stone, with a green asbestos tile roof, buttressed walls, exposed beams internally, and louvered windows, and with an air of spacious and quiet dignity. The building contains four large Sunday school rooms, and we have classes to fill each room. With 40 baptized members, our average attendance at the Sunday morning services ranges from __ to 90.”
Why does Dr. Faile – a physician at the Baptist Medical Center – take such an active interest in the growth of the Nalerigu church and its building? “I have been serving as active pastor,” he wrote. Now back in the United States on furlough, he explained that the church elected a pastoral committee from which Missionary Sidney Lewellen of the Medical Center is chairman, to handle duties of the pastor. The church hopes to have a ___ African pastor later.
And why did Dr. Faile choose to write to one church – Druid Hills in Atlanta – out of Southern Baptists’ thirty-two thousand congregations, and receive an immediate response that perfectly fulfilled his request? Other than through the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, the explanation is that Dr. Faile was a member of Druid Hills while a student at the Emory University School of Medicine, where he received his M.D. degree in 1951.
He appealed to the Atlanta church also because Druid Hills had already shown much interest in the Nalerigu congregation and had given more than three thousand dollars for the building since the Ghana church was organized with eight members in August, 1958. Thus, the Georgians not only built the steeple but put the bell in it.
Then more support came from America, with $4,500 from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and funds from other gifts. Finally, with $1,200 in offerings from the church’s forty members, the cost of the building was met.
Again, God’s leading has been seen in that the contractor in Ghana provided the auditorium, Sunday school rooms, and bell tower for only $12,000, “although at standard contracting prices the building would cost nearly twenty thousand, “ Dr. Faile said.
Even the Nayiri had given twelve shillings for the building fund when the cornerstone was laid in August, 1959, by Dr. Baker J. Cauthen, executive secretary of the Foreign Mission Board. (The Nayiri had also given the land on which the Medical Center was built.)
Now the Nalerigu church has a spacious, new home – and a bell from children in Georgia appeals to citizens in Ghana to come and fill it.