The Bell Restoration and Carillon Project

Bringing Music to North Side Neighborhoods

Since 1895 Calvary Church has been a beacon of hope and light for the greater Pittsburgh community and specifically the neighborhoods of Manchester and Allegheny West on the North Side. Since around 2010, the lone bell in our tower has been silent due to installation and ongoing maintenance issues. Calvary dreamed to make this bell ring again and add another important layer to the church's successful music ministry. The Verdin Company was selected to restore the operation of our bell and add a digital carillon. Completed just in time for Easter Sunday 2022, our church has found a new presence in the community. The system automatically tolls out the hour and Westminster Chimes as well as seasonally appopriate tunes. Many people made this possible through financial gifts of support and one person especially kept the dream alive. Our bell is dedicated to Rev. Larry Homitsky on the occassion of his retirment in June 2022. Rev. Larry has always provided a level of hope and faith unmatched by most. The proclamation is as follows:

Proclamation for Naming the Carillon of Calvary United Methodist Church In Honor of The Reverend Larry P. Homitsky

Whereas, Rev. Larry P. Homitsky was called to serve God and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a member of the clergy in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Ordained a Deacon in 1976, and Ordained an Elder in 1980, by Bishop Roy C. Nichols, and
Whereas, as a student pastor, Homitsky served congregations in the North New Jersey Conference, while attending Seminary at Drew University, and later serving as Mission Ambassador for the Guidepost Magazine in New York, and
Whereas, upon his return to Western Pennsylvania he served local congregations in Mount Pleasant, Wilkinsburg, Kittanning, Harrison City, and Cranberry Township, and
Whereas, he served as Conference Steward under the leadership of Bishops Bashore, Kim, and Bickerton, and
Whereas, he was appointed the Executive Director of The United Methodist Church Union of Allegheny County and as Pastor of the North Side Ministries and Calvary United Methodist Church in the City of Pittsburgh, in 2008, where he has engaged the community of Christian believers into action to serve the people and families in need throughout the community by organizing literacy programs, feeding programs, providing clothing, coats, shoes and many necessities of life to people who have been left to the margins of society, provide safe and secure housing, and
Whereas, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37-40), It is by these scriptures that Rev. Homitsky has exemplified his faith in God and his daily work in the Lords vineyard here on Earth, and
Whereas, Rev. Homitsky shares his love of God through music and has promoted, strengthened, and advocated for the music program at Calvary United Methodist Church through his praise and commitments to it, and
Whereas, after Fourteen years of faithful service to Calvary United Methodist Church as Senior Pastor, serving as teacher, preacher, healer, prayer partner, and friend, Rev. Homitsky is retiring from local church ministry on June 30, 2022,
Therefore Be It Resolved, That on June 28, 2022, the Church Council of Calvary United Methodist Church Dedicates the Carillon (name of the company) recently installed in the North Tower, To the Glory of God and in honor of the Reverend Larry P. Homitsky, and further
Be it Resolved, that the Carillon be entitled the “Larry P. Homitsky Carillon,” from this day forth.

An Account of How Our Bell Came to Be

“There are so many stories to be told about the people who contributed to the heritage of Calvary Church that we could fill many volumes about their faith, commitment, service, gifts, and witness. The bell that has sat silently in the north tower at Calvary is one great example.

On Wednesday, January 10, 1940, the bell was dedicated during a service at 8:00pm that evening. When it arrived, it had already been a beacon for the faithful for a half century. It came to Calvary following the merger of the former Buena Vista Street Methodist Church [Mexican War Streets].

The bell was originally a gift from the Rev. James Jackson McIlyar (1816-1907), pastor of Buena Vista Church (and its predecessor congregation the South Common’s Church) when that congregation built its new church in 1886.

Rev. McIlyar would become an outspoken champion for steel workers during the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892 with his sermons and writings being published in newspapers around the globe. His accounts are still referenced today on that historic event in our region.

On hand for the dedication of the bell’s installation at Calvary was Rev. McIlyar’s grandson, Dr. M. H. Lichliter, a third-generation minister of the Gospel who served Methodist and Congregational churches throughout the Midwest.

Isn’t it time to let the McIlyar Bell ring out God’s praise and call the faithful, those in need, and all those who seek a new life through Christ’s redeeming love?”

David Grinnell, Chair of the Calvary United Methodist Church Council & Coordinator of Archives and Manuscripts, University of Pittsburgh Library System