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Bells provide inspiration to victims


NASHVILLE, TN (May 4, 1998) --Even though all the power off, and the streets were largely

dark, residents East Nashville slowly emerged from their homes April 16

when the tornado warnings were lifted.

What they could see, in the darkness with the help of battery-powered

lights, was almost unbelievable. Trees, branches and other debris were

strewn everywhere. Power lines were down, homes and outbuildings were

damaged or destroyed, not even the community's churches were spared the

powerful destructive winds of the afternoon's tornadoes.

Dozens of stunned and shocked neighbors were walking up and down the

street, numbly looking at the destruction. Many of them gathered to talk on

the street near Tulip Street United Methodist Church.

Suddenly, the church's bells started playing Amazing Grace," said Betty

Adams, who had left her damaged home only minutes before to check on


"The feeling! If you could have seen the looks on the faces of the people

gathered there by the church. We stopped and listened and then we started

hugging each other. There must have been 30 or 40 people out there in the

streets and there wasn't a dry eye," she recalled the next day.

Playing the carillon was Trey Lewis, Tulip Street's organist. He and John

Gibson had climbed the church tower to investigate damage. The 10 bells of

the carillon were originally cast for Tennessee's Centennial and purchased

by the church. Tulip Street's pastor, Bill Miles, said the tower had to be

reinforced several times over the years just to keep the heavy bells in


"John told Trey to play something for the neighborhood when they saw the

bells were okay," Miles said. "When Betty Adams told me about it the next

day, she was still teary-eyed."

The church, built in 1891, sustained damage during the tornado. One wall

including its stained glass windows were blown out.

"Amy Pruitt, (a church member) called me about it," Miles said. "I was at

home, watching the coverage of the destruction downtown, when she called.

She told me she was sitting in her living room looking right in the

sanctuary. I thought she was just joking."

Terry Dorsey-Fannin, another member of the church, said the missing stained

glass windows had been magnificent, but they had blocked the congregation

from seeing the world outside. She hopes when the windows are replaced,

part of the new design will include clear glass, "so we can look out at the

world we need to serve."

Posted May 4, 1998

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