deacon and trustee Wayne Stancel is disappointed and saddened that someone would resort to stealing a church bell as a way to make money.
“It’s a sad commentary for our society,” he said. “People just don’t have respect for anything.”
On Jan. 24, Stancel discovered that a 100-pound iron bell commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Dacula-area church had been stolen out of the gazebo in which it was housed. Even though the gazebo has security lighting and is located in plain view of passing traffic on Braselton Highway, the thief or thieves still managed to remove the bell from its pedestal and drive away without being seen.
When Duncan Creek Congregational Church was first established in 1885, church members used the bell as a form of communication, Stancel explained. When someone died, the church bell would be rung to indicate the person’s age, then after a brief pause, would be rung again to indicate what time church members should congregate to dig the grave. The bell was also used to notify members of work sessions and other tasks.
The original bell cracked and was sold for scrap iron prior to World War II. In 2005, church members purchased a new bell and placed it on a pedestal constructed in part from a portion of the original church’s foundation.
“It’s a real nice thing and we were proud of it,” Stancel said.
Now, church members hope they can find the bell before it is destroyed. Stancel and other church members have contacted local scrap dealers to alert them of the theft in the hopes they will call if someone attempts to sell the bell.
According to Stancel, the bell would cost approximately $300 to replace, but is only worth $10-15 as scrap metal. However, the cost is not Stancel’s primary concern.
“It’s not so much the money, but what it meant to the congregation,” he said.
Anyone with information regarding the bell theft should contact Gwinnett County Police at 770-513-5000.