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Ringing the Bells


In 1974, Walsh County resident Kenneth Johnson began a tradition of ringing Trinity Lutheran’s bells each Christmas. The 114-year-old prairie church had closed its doors in 1953, but the congregation continues to take good care of the building.

Johnson’s tradition started because of Nelly Almen, a local who had moved to California. In 1974, she sent a gift to help with the building’s upkeep and wrote that on Christmas, she would listen in her mind for the bells. That Christmas Eve, Johnson called her on his mobile phone so she could hear him ring the bells, and now his son and grandson help carry on the tradition. Bernice Hall is one of about 20 who have received these calls. “I get a lump in my throat, listening to it,” she said. “I wonder if the people doing it realize how much it means to us who are away.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm