Easter morning was rung in with the sound of church bells, thanks to a new carillon system installed at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Wolsey.
A dedication ceremony and blessing was held following the sunrise service. This ceremony was held in memory of Genevieve Kahre, who was church organist for more than 60 years. She died in May 2012.
The computerized carillon system, which utilizes 72 bells that were installed in the church’s belfry tower, will be programmed to play daily for a couple of minutes at noon and at 5 p.m., according to Rev. L. Scott Spiehs. The church’s original cast iron bell remains in the steeple, and will continue to be rung at the beginning of each service.
“The new carillon system features a military-grade speaker system installed in the belfry, which is supposed to have a range of at least a mile,” Spiehs says. He notes that it has been a number of years since music has been heard coming from the church steeple.
Spiehs said people have told him how Gerhardt Stegeman, who died in 2001, would come in with a record player to play Christmas and Easter music over the sound system to mark these special days. “That has not been done for quite a few years, and now the music will be back in the town,” said Spiehs.
Music for the Jungemann family and St. John have quite a long history. Johann and Catherine Jungemann settled in Wolsey in 1884. He was one of the founding members of St. John’s and was the song leader for many years. They raised nine children, and many of the descendants of those children are still members of St. John’s. Gen was the oldest child of Johann and Catherine’s son, Erich. She was a lifetime member of the church and along with serving as organist, she directed the Gloria Dei Bell choir and the church choir for many years. She also taught piano and organ lessons for more than 60 years.
After Gen’s death in May 2012, her siblings wanted to give a memorial to the church that would reflect her devotion to her church and music, and they started the Gen Kahre Memorial Carillon Fund. The dedication ceremony on Easter was held in memory of Gen and her devotion to music in the church.
Church, bells were traditionally used to mark time and to call people to worship and special events. Spiehs said, “In the early church they would start ringing the bells when they saw people progressing through town toward the church. That way people knew that worship was about to start.”
Spiehs added, “Lots of Lutheran churches ring bells 15 minutes before church starts. The only time church bells aren’t rung is between Maundy Thursday through the Easter Vigil (Saturday night). They are silent until Easter morning.”
Donations for the carillon came from Bert and Anita Jungemann, Verla Jungemann and family, Luther and Joyce Jungemann, Quin and Joyce Jungemann, Gloria and Jerrald Zupfer and family, Ed Kahre and his family, Ken Lenz, and anonymous donors.