For those who work and visit downtown Gig Harbor, every day there is a tell-tale reminder that is unique to the city.
The sound of ringing bells emits from the Gig Harbor Nazarene Church daily — but not for much longer. The bells are failing at the Gig Harbor Nazarene Church and one man is trying to save them.
Church member Art Tiffin, 34, is in the midst of raising money to replace the speakers and bells in the church.
“It’s dying fast and I don’t know if we’ll get the money to replace it,” Tiffin, a sub-sonar technician at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, said of the bell system. “This (fundraiser) is all on my own accord.”
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The white, clapboard church is located in downtown Gig Harbor along Pioneer Way and the sound of the bells ringing on the hour is iconic to many Gig Harbor residents.
(The system) is dying fast and I don’t know if we’ll get the money to replace it.
Art Tiffin, lead fundraiser
Tiffin and his family, who live in Port Orchard, have been attending the Gig Harbor Nazarene Church for almost ten years, where Tiffin runs the sound board for the service and keeps the bell system working.
The main problem with the current system, he said, is that the system will overheat and reset itself. Additionally, only one of the four speakers work to project the sound of the bells. Tiffin started a Go Fund Me account on Feb. 19 to raise funds for the $5,025 cost of replacing the current speakers and system, a 1970s model called Quasimodo that runs off hexadecimal code.
The church doesn’t have the funds to pay for the new bell system itself, but Chime Master Systems, the company which Tiffin is hoping to purchase the new system from, has offered to waive the installation cost.
The new system would work similar to a “personal digital alarm” Tiffin said, and could accommodate MP3 files to play music or project a voice through the speakers. So far, the Go Fund Me has raised $735 toward the cost of the new system, with the biggest contribution coming from one of the church’s nearest neighbors.
The Harbor General Store donated $500 toward replacing the bell system.
The church bells are just something that’s really nice to hear in town. When you hear them you just get a nostalgic feel … a community feel.
Coby Sagle, co-owner of The Harbor General Store
“The church bells are just something that’s really nice to hear in town,” said store co-owner Coby Sagle. “When you hear them you just get a nostalgic feel … a community feel.”
The current bell system will eventually fail and fall silent — it’s just a matter of time, Tiffin said.
“We’ll have to terminate and take it down,” he said. “If it quits, it quits. I know a lot of people say they like to hear it.”
Sagle feels the loss of the bells would take some of the charm from downtown.
“I think that if we didn’t hear them, we’d be missing something and maybe not even know it,” he said.
The Go Fund Me account for the Gig Harbor Nazerene Church Bells is still active and can be found at www.gofundme.com/xqpwk558.