First UU Church of San Diego acquired a three-octave set of Malmark handbells. At the suggestion of Paula Johnson, the congregational member who organized the handbell fundraising campaign, Music Director Ken Herman organized the first handbell choir, Las Campanas, in May, 2005, and the 11-member ensemble made its debut in the fall of 2005. Interest grew such that a second choir was formed in 2007, UUBellation, directed by experienced bell-ringer and church member Roy Attridge. Both choirs share their art in Sunday morning services and occasional church programs. In 2009, members and friends of the handbell choirs raised funds to acquire a three-octave set of Malmark Choirchimes to add another voice to the ensembles. The church is a member of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers.
The handbell choirs are open to members and friends of the congregation who are interested in performing this music. Newcomers to handbell ringing are advised to start with the UUBellation ensemble, where individual coaching is available for beginners. New members to Las Campanas are expected to have some handbell experience or unusually acute music-reading skills.
We rehearse weekly in order to develop our ringing skills and learn new repertory. Most members will learn one desk, i.e. one single set of 3 to 4 hand bells, while more advanced ringers are expected to be able to shift to different ringing positions as required by absences and vacations. We rehearse in the church Meeting House, and choir members are asked to arrive early to set up tables and bells and to assist with the take-down following each rehearsal and performance.