Chime comes to Cascadia church

Benny Westcott

Dw-Wayne Hill II of Sweet Home has collected bells since he was 15 years old. His most recent find was the oldest, largest, and most expensive bell he has ever owned.

And he decided not to keep it.

Instead, he donated it to his favorite place of worship, Cascadia Bible Church.

The special bell was cast on Oct. 24, 1940, by somebody with the initials “P.P.”

According to an inscription on the bell, the company responsible for its creation was CS Bell Company, which was in operation between 1895 and 1970.

The bell first got on Hill’s radar about 13 years ago, when his friend Robert Tobey, a pastor at Whitespires Berean Fellowship Church in Albany, showed Hill the bell, which sat in Tobey’s garage on a stand with wheels. Tobey had bought the bell at an estate sale years before.

“I was like, oh God, I’ve got to have that bell,” Hill said.

Tobey was set on giving Hill the bell when the time was right. At one point, the pastor was offered $5,000 for the bell, Hill said.

“He turned it down and said, ‘No, I’m to give this bell to Dw-Wayne.”

Hill says he currently possesses some 20 bells. He acquired his first one when he was 15, he said.

“Ever since then I’ve always had a fascination for bells, because of the way they ring. Different ones make different sounds.”

He says most of the bells in his collection are small.

When Hill ran into Tobey at the Volkswagen dealership in Corvallis on March 8 of this year, they got to talking about the bell in Tobey’s garage, and Hill made an offer.

“I felt really bad about offering just $1,000 for a bell that was probably worth $6,000 to $10,000. But he knows it’s going to go to a good home, and that I’m not going to treat it wrong. I’m going to take it and put it someplace where it’s going to stay forever.”

Hill ended up buying the bell from Hill for $1,500.

They managed to open Tobey’s garage door, which hadn’t been opened in 15 years because it was broken.

The two men then rolled the bell into Hill’s van.

“We found out that the ramp for the van was literally a perfect fit. There was maybe 1/32nd of an inch on either side of the bell to go inside the ramp,” he said.

Hill said he had bought the van specifically to haul the bell.

He decided that he wanted to donate the bell to Cascadia Bible Church.

Hill first talked to Cascadia Bible Church’s pastor, Clive Millett, about donating the bell to the church about a year ago, because the church “didn’t really have the money to buy it,” Hill said.

Hill started attending that church in 2018, initially because his wife’s grandmother went there.

“I kind of fell in love with the church because Pastor Clive is probably the best pastor I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and I’ve probably been to about 40 or 50 different churches in my lifetime, trying to find the right one.”

He says he has attended churches all around the world, in Germany, Kansas, Virginia, and Maryland.

“When I walked through the doors at Cascadia, Pastor Clive was preaching about (the book of) Revelation,” he said. “And in my lifetime I’d never heard a pastor ever talking about Revelation. I figured I was home.” 

Before the bell could be operable, it needed some welding, so once Hill had it in the van, he took it to a welder.

“The clanger was busted,” Hill said. The welder removed it and welded the clanger back onto to the mechanism that swings it back and forth.

“We put the clanger back inside and rang the bell, and oh man, it just sounded so beautiful,” Hill said.

With the bell now operable, Hill put it in his van and transported it from Albany to Sweet Home. And he had some fun with it along the way.

“Somebody was cutting me off. He went through a stop sign and I slammed on the brakes and that bell rang. And everybody for a block away looked at my van and was like ‘what the heck was that?'”

So every stop sign between Albany and Cascadia, I’d take advantage, and I’d slam on the breaks and get that bell ringing,” he said.

He said that multiple people wanted to see the bell en route to Cascadia, so he showed it to about a dozen people on the way to the church.

Once the bell arrived at the church, it was rolled out of Hill’s van and onto the ground on the church’s property.

The plan now is to build a tower to house the bell. Hill said that he and church staff are seeking donations to build a bell tower on the church.

In the meantime, the bell will sit beside the sidewalk that leads to the church’s front door, welcoming visitors.

“Right now it’s just sitting on the ground, waiting for a bell tower to go up,” he said.