Petition against university church bell

Residents surrounding the university’s Maranatha church have anonymously started a petition, in an effort to stop the church from ringing its bell.

At the beginning of this year, the Maranatha Church gained permission of the Tilburg City Council to place an historic bell on its premises. The bell, which is sounded every thirty minutes, was supposed to give the building a more church-like appearance. The newly acquired bell seems to have struck a nerve with some of its neighbors, as a petition has been distributed in the “De Reit” neighborhood calling for its removal.

Mixed opinions

Although some residents seem to be dissatisfied with the half-hourly chimes, the opinions in the matter are divided. Corry and Piet van Berkel live in the apartment building across the street from the church. The couple is furious about the circulating petition. “It seems like people want to ban everything nowadays.”

The couple doesn’t understand why people call for the bell’s removal. “We are the ones living closest to the church, yet neither of us has an issue with it.” It meant a lot to the couple that the student pastor, Michiel Peeters, was able to acquire the historic bell. “The bell was from a church in this neighbourhood originally. When that church was demolished in 1983, another church near Eindhoven got the bell. We were delighted when we heard that the bell would return to its hometown.”

Reaction student pastor

Michiel Peeters, pastor of the Maranatha Church, says the schedule for the bell has already been adjusted, even before there was a petition. “The bell won’t sound after 19:00 anymore.” The pastor isn’t sure what to expect from the petition: “The bell should add something for the neighborhood. If the petition shows that a lot of people are bothered by it, we should search for a suitable solution.” Even with the uncertain outcome, Peeters doesn’t fear for the bell’s removal: “I’m hearing a lot of positive sounds from the neighbors. In addition, we have a permit from the City Council. But,” he repeats, “if the bell hinders a lot of people, we should engage in a conversation. I’m sure we can work this out.”

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