Board Member Election 2015

Area 3 Board General Election Information

To the members of Handbell Musicians of America Area 3,

Area 3 is holding an important election to fill the board positions of Chair-Elect and three Board-At-Large Directors. Please carefully read through the biographies below, evaluate each candidate, and place your votes on the electronic ballot found at

As per our bylaws, the current Chair-Elect (Kyler Brengle), voted in during the recent special election to fill that vacancy, will take the position of Area Chair in October. Two At-Large Directors will continue to serve their terms until 2017, giving Area 3 continuity as the newly-elected candidates join those remaining on the board. Looking at the exceptional candidates running for office, we anticipate continued support and strive for greater outreach in educational settings as well as maintaining outstanding educational events, such as the Spring and Youth festivals, Directors’ Seminar, as well as state and local events.

We thank you in advance for taking the time to thoughtfully consider these candidates and placing your votes at this site by Monday, September 21 at 5:00 PM. You will need your Area 3 membership number for the voting page.

TO VOTE: Please click the button below and follow the directions given there (or follow this link: You will need to use your Handbell Musicians of America membership number (instructions for retrieving that are also in the voting instructions). Voting is open from Wednesday, July 29 at 9:00 AM to Wednesday, August 26 at 5:00 PM.

We thank you in advance for taking the time to thoughtfully consider these candidates and to vote. By doing so, you are helping to continue and further the fine work Area 3 has been doing in the wonderful world of handbells.


Candidates for Chair-Elect (VOTE FOR ONE)

paul_brillPaul Brill
Paul has been involved in ringing and leading handbells for over thirty years. He grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and attended the University of Maryland where he received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 1982. In 1985, he graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky with a Master of Church Music. Following seminary, Paul served the First Baptist Church of Montezuma, Georgia until 1990 when he came to Northern Virginia to serve on the staff of Ox Hill Baptist Church in Chantilly, Virginia. He is still at Ox Hill and currently holds the position of Associate Pastor for Music and Worship, a role in which he oversees twelve ensembles, including four handbell choirs that involve a wide range of ringers from children to senior adults.

For the past three years Paul has served as the Virginia State Chair for Area III. In that role he has worked on the staff of many of the annual area-wide festivals, as well as organizing two local workshops. In the fall of 2013 he worked with Kath Wissinger to offer a workshop designed for new and beginning ringers in southwest Virginia called Ready, Set, Ring! A year later, in the Tidewater area, Paul coordinated a second workshop, Technique-ly Speaking, in which clinician Al Reese focused on the many different techniques found in handbell music today. In addition to his work as Virginia State Chair, Paul has also served on the Repertoire Committee for the Area III festivals.

As a minister and an educator, Paul has always seen great value in the way handbell choirs provide a place for people of all ages and abilities to come together and share in a musical experience. One of the Area III projects Paul is particularly interested in is the Handchimes in the School program. As those who have led or played handbells know, the experience offers ringers a sense of enjoyment, accomplishment, camaraderie and service. In order to make this opportunity accessible to as many people as possible, he feels it is important to continue and expand the effort to make handchimes available. In the role of Area III Chair, Paul would work to bring together many different members of the Area III family in order to accomplish the tasks at hand. After serving in the local church for many years, Paul has had a great deal of experience guiding, directing, encouraging and motivating people who are offering their time as volunteers. If elected, he would bring to the position not only the lessons learned from those experiences, but also enthusiasm, commitment, patience and consistency along with a desire for continued excellence in all the activities sponsored by Area III.

jerry hillJerry Hill
Jerry Hill is the handbell director at First Baptist Church Alexandria, Virginia where he oversees the handbell ministry and directs the Adoration Ringers and children handbell choirs. Jerry earned his master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has taught in both private and public schools for over 25 years as well as served on the staff of several churches. In 2009, Jerry represented the National Association for Music Education on a cultural exchange program to China. He has been a workshop presenter at state, regional, and national conferences. His choirs have performed several times on national television, recently featured on the CBS Evening News; regional conferences, performing for the President of the United States and the Metropolitan Opera Guild; and performed at the National Cathedral and Lincoln Center. Jerry coordinates the ringing of the National Anthem for Area 3 for the Nationals Major League Baseball Team with over 500 ringing participants. He is the current Metro DC State Chair.

Area 3 has been a leader in the handbell art form creating new opportunities and educating directors and ringers for several decades. Today’s society offers a unique challenge for organizations to connect to local choirs in meaningful ways building lasting relationships. We must seek to open new doors of opportunities, especially with our youth to engage them in a life-long commitment to ringing. We must educate the public of the beauty and wonder of this instrument we hold in our hands. We must serve with love and devotion to an art form full of ministry opportunities.

Candidates for Board-at-Large (VOTE FOR THREE)

Edward Asten
Edward Asten is the founder and director of The Chapel Ringers handbell choir at Joint-base Myer-Henderson Hall, in Arlington, Virginia. He has directed the group for the past twenty-five years, and has performed handbell clinics and workshops in the Northern Virginia area.

After spending the last twenty-eight years in the Army, Edward recently retired from The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, as a percussionist. With this band, he performed over 10,000 commitments, to include Full Honor Arrivals at The White House, the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, the pre-game ceremony for Super Bowl thirty-nine, performances with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, as well as many other performances and ceremonies in and around the National Capital Area, especially full honor funerals in Arlington National Cemetery.

Edward holds the Bachelor of Music degree in percussion performance, from East Carolina University, Master of Music degree in percussion performance, from Wichita State University, and hours towards the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in percussion performance, from the University of North Texas.

After retiring from the Army, Mr. Asten has joined The Cooperman Drum Company as a clinician. Additionally, Edward has become a realtor with Keller Williams Capital Properties, in Fairfax, VA, where he resides with his wife Margaret (also a vocalist and realtor), and son Andrew.

marilyn converseMarilyn Converse
Marilyn Converse serves as the handbell director at Trinity Lutheran Church in North Bethesda, Maryland, a position she has held since founding the choir in 1984. She is a current Board-At-Large member of Area 3 and has also served as the Maryland District Representative. She has both chaired and served on the Area 3 spring festivals repertoire committee. Her interest in bells began in childhood when listening to the carillon near her town and in watching the rope being pulled for the single tower bell at her church. While living in Pittsburgh, she fell in love with the sound of the handbell choir there and quickly became a member. When she and her family moved to Maryland and joined a church that didn’t have a handbell choir, she took the steps necessary to convince the church to purchase bells and then started their handbell program. Over the years, she has directed as many as three choirs and has involved over 120 children, youth, and adults in their handbell ministry.

Marilyn holds undergraduate degrees in biology and psychology from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa. and a graduate degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh. She worked as a physical therapist for over 10 years in Pittsburgh. She currently works part-time as manager of a small school store. She lives in Rockville, Md. with her husband, Bob. They have three grown daughters.

Marilyn says she is grateful for everything which has led her to handbells, as this musical art has added immeasurable joy and passion to her life, and hopefully to the lives of all those who listen. Her knowledge of all things handbells has come from attending the wonderful ringer and director events organized by Area 3, National Seminars, International Seminars, reading Overtones magazine, and networking with others. She is running for re-election to the Board because she would like to give back to the Area 3 membership for all they have done for her over the years. She would also like to continue being a part of the wonderful work the board has been and will continue to do in getting unused handbell sets back into circulation, and to further the exposure of handbells in educational institutions and to the general public.

Steven Holton
Steven Holton is a native of Norcross, GA who received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech before relocating to the Washington D.C. area to work for the federal government. He now works as a patent analyst for Landon IP working on technology related to computer technology and business methods.

Steven was introduced to handbells when he was in elementary school, watching his mother ring with the church handbell choir. Once he entered middle school, he began ringing in the church handbell choir and playing drums and percussion in the middle school band. Now he rings (and sometimes directs) with the church handbell choirs at Westminster Presbyterian church in Alexandria, VA. He also rings and serves as Vice-President of Virginia Bronze handbell ensemble in Alexandria. Steven has served as an Elder, a Deacon, and on the nominating committee of his church. He has attended DB East (3 times) and DB West (1 time) and had a wonderful time at the National Seminar in Atlanta in 2014.

melissa nobileMelissa Nobile
Melissa Nobile has been ringing and involved with handbells for longer than she cares to admit. She is currently the director at Warrenton United Methodist Church in Warrenton, Va and at Leeds Episcopal Church in Markham, VA. Melissa rings at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Delaplane, VA.

When she isn’t ringing or directing, Melissa volunteers her time at a Prayer Shawl group, the VMI Parents Council, and wherever else she might be needed.

Melissa and her husband, Marc (also a ringer), have two children – Matt, a 2nd Lieutenant with the US Army, and Emma, a Junior at VMI and soon to be Ensign with the US Navy.

sarah sheffieldSarah Sheffield
Sarah Sheffield’s start into handbells began like so many folks out there. In 1994 her church purchased a set of handbells. Since she could read music, she was on the short list of recruits. Thankfully she caved in and joined because she has been playing bells ever since. In addition to ringing with the Adult Bells at church, she had the privilege of directing the Youth Bells and Children’s Bells. Sarah was born and raised near Charlotte, NC, and still lives in the area. She still is a member at the church where she began ringing bells (Weddington UMC).

Sarah has a Music Education degree from Wingate University, where her principal instrument was French Horn and secondary instrument was flute. She currently rings with two community handbell groups: Queen City Ringers (Brian Childers, director) since 2002 and is currently President; Charlotte Bronze (Tim Waugh, director) since 2011. To pay for her handbell addiction, Sarah works for an Insurance Agency as Office Manager / Personal Lines Manger. She is married to Milton, who is a fellow ringer. Handbell highlights include: 3 performances at Disney World with the Weddington UMC Youth Handbell Ensemble; participation in Distinctly Bronze East since 2002 and Distinctly Bronze West since 2014; performing the National Anthem at the Washington Nationals Stadium; and performing onstage with the Raleigh Ringers as part of Virtuoso 2013 and 2015.

Why do I want to be a part of the Area 3 Board? The handbell community on all levels has had a huge impact on my life. It has pushed me to be a better ringer and nurtured my love for handbells. I want to help the new ringers, growing ringers, and seasoned veterans grow in our art form like those before me helped me. It would be a privilege for me to serve you as an Area 3 Board Member.

Thank you in advance for helping to further the work of Area 3 by participating in this important election for your Board members.

Nominating Committee,
Marilyn Converse, Nominating Committee Chair
Nancy Cappel
Fran Underwood