Updated: Oct 27
On Sunday, October 15, 2023, Val Dudley was recognized in worship and during a reception in the Gathering Space upon her retirement from directing the Grace Bell Ensemble. Four decades ago, Grace just had a Children's Bell Choir. Val had been a part of the bell program at the LaGrange Methodist Church, and when she and her family began to attend Grace, she took up the challenge of forming an Adult Bell Choir.
On behalf of our congregation and church family, Bell Choir members, past and present, it is our privilege to thank you, Val!
Val was the first director of the Adult Bell Choir at Grace and did an amazing job building the program. She created a strong and lasting program during the 40+ years she spent directing the Choir. She recruited members, including persistently knocking on doors and working with tentative players, convincing them they could learn to play. She held members to high standards, convincing each one they could play more challenging music than they thought they could.
Val made sure the Choir had the equipment their growing program needed. She took the Bell Choir on tours and to several festivals in other states. The Choir performed at community events, visited nursing homes, and even presented concerts at Grace. Val instilled in the Choir a sense of commitment to each other and to the program. Val has a wealth of knowledge about handbells and leaves big shoes to fill!
Thank you for the gift of music that you have given Grace UMC!
Many thanks to Coletta Hines-Newell, Treva Brashears, Sue Riedinger, Debbie and Christopher John, Bob and Margaret Schmitt, Laura and John Strain, and the Grace Bell Ensemble, who helped with the celebration.