GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga.,None - The pastor of a Gwinnett County congregation whose antique church bell was stolen said the bell has very little monetary value, but its history can’t be replaced.
Pastor Wayne Stancel said the 100-pound cast-iron bell is a well-known symbol of the Duncan Creek Christian Congregational Church on Braselton Highway. Members of the church said they thought a steel latch would be enough to protect the bell, but when they stopped by earlier this week, the pedestal was bare.
"We would like to have it back for sentimental reasons, and we hate to see it melted for scrap iron," Stancel said.
Founded in the 1850s, the original bell notified the community of the death of a church member.
“So, if someone died at 80, they'd ring the bell 80 times," said Stancel.
It would toll again when members were ready to come out and dig their grave.
Church member Tim Puckett showed Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh where his father, Ernest, was buried. The bell that rang for Puckett’s ancestors cracked and was scrapped after World War II. It was replaced for the church’s 150th anniversary in 2005.
Despite efforts to protect it, the bell was stolen between Monday and Tuesday night. Stancel said he's visited local scrap yards and called antique dealers, hoping to track it down.
"I was told it would bring probably $15 for scrap," he told Kavanaugh.
But for the church, it's generations of memories.
"It's a sad state in our community when something like that happens, so we'd just like to see our bell back, if we could," Stancel said.
Neighboring churches have stepped up and offered to replace it, so Stancel said it's not about the money, but about the history attached to the bell.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Gwinnett County police at 770-513-5000.