With any luck, hundreds of bells will ring out across the Twin Cities on Thursday in a musical celebration of Independence Day.
"We have put the word out to hundreds of churches," said Rebecca Jorgenson Sundquist, founder of the nonprofit City of Bells. "Let's see."
The plan calls for bells to ring for 10 minutes at noon, and Sundquist said seven churches are set to anchor the bell chorus: the Cathedral of St. Paul and House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul; and St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, the Basilica of St. Mary, St. Olaf Catholic Church, Lake of the Isles Lutheran and Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
City of Bells, launched more than a decade ago, works to revive bronze bells in the Twin Cities and has organized concerts so the public can hear them chime. It already coordinated a bell-ringing on Memorial Day, and after July 4th, the next communitywide bell-ringing dates are Nov. 11 for Armistice Day and Jan. 1 for New Year's Day.
Sundquist said she "fell in love with the bells" 14 years ago while working on the bell tower project at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis as the principal coordinator and fundraiser. "It was transformational for me and the community," she said.
The bells at the Central Lutheran are part of one of the three traditional carillons in Minnesota — they can be clanged manually and mechanically.
"Just like bells ring at the end of every service, people take the message of the service out to the world," said Mark Kieffer, sound operator at the church.
City of Bells' efforts have brought bells back to life at multiple sites.
In fall 2015, the nonprofit raised more than $40,000 to repair the 24 bells at the tower of St. Mark's in downtown Minneapolis that hadn't functioned for over eight years.
On Memorial Day this year, City of Bells helped ring the 2,080-pound replica of the Liberty Bell at the Capitol grounds in St. Paul.
When not raising funds or restoring church bells, Sundquist's team is busy collecting information on bells in the Twin Cities and documenting their stories.
"Bells do lots of things," she said. "They call people to worship, evoke the divine, call citizens to safety and sanctuary, besides offering hope and courage."
The next big City of Bells project is in cooperation with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis.
Last week, Timothy Hart-Andersen, senior pastor at the church, was at the Paccard foundry in Annecy, France, to witness the casting of six bells the church is procuring with the nonprofit's help. The bells, the largest of which weighs 9,400 pounds, will be installed in a new tower at the church by Easter 2020.
"We are pleased to collaborate in creating Minneapolis as a place where bells are ringing, reminding us of our common shared humanity," Hart-Andersen said.