We were sometime Baptist because two
miles down the dirt and gravel road was a Baptist church. We were
sometime Methodist because two miles up the road in the other
direction was a Methodist church, but it was seldom open. The
circuit preacher only came through every month or two and that
explains why we were Baptist more often than Methodist.
One morning we learned the Methodist
were open for business so we gave them ours.
In the church yard was a huge cast
iron wheel attached to a cast iron bell. This five year old reasoned
wheels are for turning and bells are for ringing. I turned it to the
left and got a little chime. I turned it to the right and got a
louder chime. I turned and turned and got a bing, bong, ding and
dong. Then someone ran up and jerked me away from the big wheel.
People stood in the church yard
talking and mumbling and glancing at me. I didn't know what was so
bad about ringing a bell. But I felt shame and, being in a church
yard, I knew I must have committed some kind of horrible forbidden
Suddenly, dozens of people are coming
up and down the road from both directions, rushing toward the
church. Had they all simultaneously seen the light? I was amazed as
the crowd gathered outside the church, each asking, "Where's the
fire?" That's when I learned they only rang the bell when there was
a fire in the neighborhood.
Were souls saved that day? I don't know. Were thanks given that
there was no fire? I don't know. But I do know the little five year
old 'sometime Baptist' heathen got more people to church than any
'sometime' Methodist circuit preacher had in years.
The forbidden to ring church bell is located on Sorrell Chapel Loop,
left off 412 at the first Y in the road, going south between Jackson
and Dyersburg, Tennessee.