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Bell at Florida's oldest Protestant church is being restored after 178 years

The lead pastor says they plan on having the bell back in place by Jan. 3, 2021 to celebrate the church's 200th anniversary.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — St. Augustine is the oldest city in America. When you walk around the downtown area, you are walking through history.

Trinity Parish, the Protestant church on King St. and St. George St., is the oldest Protestant church in Florida founded 199 years ago. Its church bell was installed after it was founded in 1842. 

The bell is 178 years old and is in need of some restoration. Father Matt Marino says they haven't rung the bell in at least 50 years. 

On Wednesday, crews removed the bell to ship it by truck to Cincinnati, where it will be restored. 

Marino explains when the bell was first bought, the church went for the less expensive option. 

“It sounds fine and dandy when you ring it because they bought a really really good bell, but they were pinching pennies," Marino said, "so they bought a great bell from the best bell manufacturer and the cheapest wheel to spin the bell made out of wood."

He says someone tried to ring the bell and the wheel crumbled. Marino says that part is made out of wood and was eaten by termites. 

He explains when the church originally bought the parts, if the church had spent about $3 more they wouldn’t need to fix it. Now, the process is going to cost about $35,000. 

They hope to have it back in place by Jan. 3 to celebrate the church turning 200 years old. Marino says once it is fixed, they will start ringing the bell again. 

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