In 1991, Grace Church acquired three octaves of Schulmerich English Handbells, a gift from David and Nancy Vader in memory of Nancy’s parents, David and Erma Smith. Lisa Shanzer (now Putnam) was their first director. She recruited volunteers and taught them how to ring. Soon there were two groups: Grace Ringers, for less experienced ringers ringing easier music, and Resounding Grace, for ringers ringing more challenging music. When Lisa moved out of the area in 1996, Anita was hired by Julie Brown to direct. In 1999, the church purchased the fourth octave of handbells. In 2000, the 3 octave set of MelodyChimes were purchased and in 2001, the fifth octave of handbells. Michael Wu started to lead the groups in the fall of 1997, followed by Diane Haines in the fall of 2009, and then Debbie Henning in the fall of 2016. The two groups were merged into one group due to decreasing attendance. A few years ago, Sharon Witherow taught beginning lessons for a year, with some of those ringers now ringing with the Grace Ringers.
The Grace Ringers play handbells in the 9:15am and 11:00am worship services once a month. The ensemble is open to adults and youth who know how to read music on either the treble or bass staff or have had bell-ringing experience in the past. Members say that playing handbells is a great stress reliever. They like being a part of a group working together to make music that glorifies God. Members may also attend regional workshops and festivals. Rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 7:30pm. Contact: Debbie Henning, director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-926-8688 ext. 18.