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History of the Bells

by Marilyn Nobori

In 1967, the Y clubs purchased two octaves of bells for Centenary UMC in memory of Robert Kodama, one of the Y clubs’ founding fathers. Another octave was purchased by the Kusayanagi family.

In 1960, one of the girls’ clubs formed a handbell choir. The bells were dormant until the 1970’s when Elaine Suyetsugu directed a new handbell choir comprised of MYF members and young adults. Lori Matsuno remembers practicing at the Kurushima household.

The bells gathered dust in a closet at 35th and Normandie, then moved to Maryknoll, and finally to 3rd and Central. Rev. Shiro Kato, Associate Minister, overseeing the Nihongo Division, approached a new member in the Nichigo congregation. Tomoko Takasugi was asked to form a new handbell choir. Tomoko was a founding member of the Kobe YMCA Handbell Choir, a graduate of Osaka College of Music, and a former faculty member at Kobe Shoin Department of Music.

In March 1994, an adult handbell choir and children’s choir was formed.

The handbell choir performs at Christmas and Easter services as well as other church functions.

Call the church at (213) 617-9097 if you would like to join Centenary’s handbell choir. Centenary United Methodist Church is located in downtown Los Angeles at 300 S. Central Avenue.

Watch the video below, History of the Bells, and hear Centenary’s handbell choir.

Go to Centenary’s YouTube site at and check out our growing video library of Centenary Ministries:

  • Chikara 20 Year History

  • Centenary in Mission: Kid City 2021

  • Aiko’s Team for Suicide Prevention



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