Ringing the Bell

Ringing the Bell

North Fresno Rotary members who donate additional funds to celebrate a professional, personal, or community achievement or occasion

Rotary International

Rotary historians have written that the 3rd Rotary Club was the Oakland Club, which started in 1909. Their sixth President, V. O. Lawrence was the first Rotarian in history to inaugurate a system of fines on latecomers at the weekly luncheons, enriching the club’s charity funds. From this practice evolved the birthday fine and bell ringer. In 1922, U.S. Rotarians organized an attendance contest; the challenge was that the losing clubs would join in giving the winning club a prize. The Rotary Club of New York City was declared the winner and to them was awarded as a prize a bell from a popular patrol boat, which was placed on wood that came from HMS “Victory”, Admiral Nelson’s vessel at the battle of Trafalgar. Since then, the bell used in Rotary meetings started to represent, as on the ships, order, discipline and the time to guide us through the weekly hour and a half meetings.

Rotary historians have written that the 3rd Rotary Club was the Oakland Club, which started in 1909. Their sixth President, V. O. Lawrence was the first Rotarian in history to inaugurate a system of fines on latecomers at the weekly luncheons, enriching the club’s charity funds. From this practice evolved the birthday fine and bell ringer. In 1922, U.S. Rotarians organized an attendance contest; the challenge was that the losing clubs would join in giving the winning club a prize. The Rotary Club of New York City was declared the winner and to them was awarded as a prize a bell from a popular patrol boat, which was placed on wood that came from HMS “Victory”, Admiral Nelson’s vessel at the battle of Trafalgar. Since then, the bell used in Rotary meetings started to represent, as on the ships, order, discipline and the time to guide us through the weekly hour and a half meetings.

  • The bell informs us with its sound the beginning of the Rotary meeting, at which time people present should stand, same as at the end, in order to salute the national and Rotary flags.
  • The gavel symbolizes the authority invested in the Rotarian elected to the highest position in Rotary, and through him or her, reminds those present of his or her authority.
  • When presidents transmit their positions to their successors at the end of their mandate, they give the bell their last hit turning the gavel over to their successor, symbolizing the transfer of authority.

The sound of the bell has the power to charm, to amaze, to warn, to frighten (when it is rung by George while you are standing), and to lift the spirit (when someone else is standing). Without the bell present, people fall asleep or even at times, cause havoc during a meeting because the bell is not there to represent order and discipline, and to keep them in line. Now that you have been educated as to the symbolic purpose of the Rotary Bell at the weekly meetings, I am sure you will find it in your heart to remember the “Four Way Test”