The restored bell at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Mendon. Photo provided by St. Mark Lutheran

“So we, a number of German Lutherans in and around Mendon, Monroe County, NY living, go together to build a congregation.” These were the first words of the “Konstitution” for St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mendon, signed on November 7, 1901, in the home of Mr. L. Ernst.

By January, 1902 those first members rented Finucane’s Hall in Honeoye Falls for $60.00 a year to hold services. Within two years, 125 people were attending service and on April 12, 1904 the foundation was dug and first stones laid on a parcel of property purchased from Mr. Ethan Davis, on Victor Mendon Road.

On that foundation, East Bloomfield carpenter, Mr. Frank Forsyth and his helpers built, in twelve weeks, the church that still stands today. St. Mark was dedicated to the service of the Lord on September 25, 1904 and for many years, the morning service was spoken in German and the afternoon service in English.

To see St. Mark Mendon today, what immediately comes to mind is how much the church looks like the charming little church found on Christmas Cards. The church has three notable historical assets.

Walking into the sanctuary, the first thing you pass is the pipe organ purchased in 1921 from the Hinners Organ Company and shipped by rail for assembly. Monica Smith, who is the dedicated music director, has been filling the church with joyous music since her early days as a college graduate.

Stepping further into the sanctuary are the beautiful stained-glass windows. There on each side, you’ll see the legacy of the founding families, illustrating Biblical events. Above the pews are six stained glass lanterns with symbols for the apostles and the four Gospel writers. More recently and in loving memory of Rev. Erwin and Myra Stechholz, the congregation commissioned Rochester artist Valerie O’Hara of Pike Stained Glass Studios, to produce the prominent window of Christ above the altar.

The third notable historical asset is the Old Friend that Mendon residents might remember hearing on Sunday mornings. On October, 23, 1925, St. Mark purchased a Number 44 Steel Alloy Bell, from the C. S. Bell Co. of Hillsboro, Ohio. The 41 inch diameter bell weighed 1,000 pounds and was delivered on December 14, 1925.

For nearly a century, volunteers pulled the rope that moved the large wooden wheel that swung the bell, announcing to the neighborhood that worship was about to begin and the Gospel would be proclaimed in music, art and liturgy. Several years ago, weary from wear and tear, the bell stopped ringing and was silenced in the tower.

In the midst of the pandemic, members of St. Mark approved the allocation of funds to restore the bell. Church Specialties, LLC was engaged to remove their Old Friend and proceed with a full restoration of the bell to its former glory.

The restored bell was recently returned to its home atop the tower and will soon ring out again, but with a modern twist! Instead of the traditional rope and wooden wheel, an electromagnetic control system will toll the bell on Sunday mornings and periodically throughout the week.

The members of St. Mark Mendon wish to invite you, their neighbors and those who love all things historical to come and celebrate with them on Sunday, June, 26 at 9:00 am when they toll their New Old Friend again.

Following the service of dedication, a brief tour of the church with St. Mark historians will be hosted and light refreshments will be served.

©2023 Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel

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