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After 150 years, Peace Church to light bell tower for first time

All are welcome to The Bell Tower Lighting Festival on Saturday at the church, 1111 N. 11th Ave. E., Duluth.

Two men are seen between the tops of tree, perched on top of bell tower, with the lake in the distance behind them.
Andy McLean, below, and his father, Jim, make their way to the top of the Peace Church bell tower June 14, 2002, to examine the two upper bells for damage. Peace United Church of Christ members are kicking off its 150th anniversary celebrations with the first-ever lighting of the Peace Bell Tower on Saturday.
Derek Neas / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Peace United Church of Christ turns 150 this year, and members are kicking off celebrations with the first-ever lighting of the Peace Bell Tower.

All are welcome to The Bell Tower Lighting Festival from 6-10 p.m. Saturday in the upper lot of the church, 1111 N. 11th Ave. E.

There will be food, games and music by Lake City Smokin’ Section and Danny Frank and the Smoky Gold.

At 8:30 p.m., there will be a dedication ceremony, and the Peace Bell Tower lighting is slated for 9 p.m.

Sunday's 9 a.m. service will be conducted by former longtime Peace preacher, Pastor Kathy Nelson.


This weekend’s events are meant to be a beacon of hope in Duluth, according to a press release.

Asked why the bell tower had never been lit in the past, “I don’t know that anybody ever thought about lighting it. It cost quite a bit to do the lights,” said Marsha Hystead, church congregant and chair of the 150th celebration.

The church used leftover funds from a $10,000 donation to hire help to maintain the tower 20 years ago, Hystead said. Now, Peace’s bell tower has LED lights, and after Saturday, will shine nightly.

Peace United Church of Christ was founded in 1872 as St. Paul’s German Evangelical Church. The three bells that make up the tower originate from implements of war in an effort to transform destruction into items of peace.

The first is from a cannon captured during Franco-Prussian War; the second, the Navy issued from a ship that had seen war service; the third contains scrap war materials collected by the David Wisted American Legion Post.

If you go

What: 150th Anniversary Kickoff Event: The Bell Tower Lighting Festival

When: 6-10 p.m. Saturday

Where: Upper parking lot, Peace United Church of Christ, 1111 N. 11th Ave. E. In case of rain, festivities will be moved inside the church.


Cost: Free-will offering is accepted.

More info: peaceucc.org

More 150th celebration activities

  • The Rally for Peace, featuring keynote speaker David Hogg, “Engage in the Change: Our Generation Must Own Democracy," noon-3 p.m. Oct. 1, Leif Erickson Park.
  • 150th Celebration Dinner, program at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Oct. 8, Peace United Church of Christ.
Melinda Lavine is an award-winning, multidisciplinary journalist with 16 years professional experience. She joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2014, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving north to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346, mlavine@duluthnews.com.
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