At 10.50am on Easter Sunday, something not seen since 2019 broke the silence inside the Church of the Savior in Mattituck.

The church bell in the tower began to ring. It rang seven times, stopped, and then rang three more times. The bell is a call to prayer, a practice that dates back to the origins of the church in the early 1870s.

“It was fantastic to hear,” said Stewart Whalen, who sits on the church parish — sort of a board of directors — and said it instilled in him a sense of faith and connection to generations of Episcopalians , they heard the bell every Sunday morning when they took their seats on the bench.

“When I hear it, I have a different emotion,” he said as he sat in church on Monday. “I felt connected to the past, but also optimistic about the future. It was a mystical connection. I suddenly felt connected to someone who had been here before.”

The story of the church tower dates back to around 1880, when a group of Mattituck Anglicans – some of whose names are etched on the stained glass windows – formed a congregation a few years ago.

Originally, the bell was mounted on the steeple in front of the church and was free to swing, operated by the bell ringer pulling a long knotted rope.

By 1931, the congregation had grand plans to renovate the building. But deteriorating economic conditions locally and nationally have stymied those plans. Instead, the bell was removed from the spire and stored outside the church until a new bell tower was built on the west side of the building in 1957. Moving it was no easy feat: the solid bronze bell weighs 600 pounds.

In many ways, a church bell is more than just a church bell. This is especially true for this one.

“Many parishioners expressed a feeling that even though there is no reason in the modern world to ring church bells, it is a good and appropriate thing to honor a rich past in which church bells struck time, marking funeral, celebrated wedding and announced three daily prayers,” Mr Whalen wrote in an email to the Suffolk Times.

At some point in the mid-1960s, the chiming of the bell was automated—the bell ringer would no longer pull the cord to strike the heavy bell. This new system worked for decades, but the moving parts eventually failed and the chimes fell silent again.

A new system was installed and the revamped bells rang again until 2019 when COVID-19 reduced church attendance and the bells were shut off for the third time.

Last year, parishioners explored ways to remove the bell, sandblast it to restore its former luster, and put it back on top of the tower. Engineers from a foundry in Baltimore — the same foundry that forged the clock in 1880 — inspected the clock and determined that the support structure holding it in place was in good condition. No need for expensive sandblasting.

So, a full 10 minutes before 11am on April 9th, when the church bells rang again and the parishioners inside took their seats for Easter services, everything felt good. The bell was rung again on Monday to mark the time, while Mr Whalen gave reporters a tour of the church. He smiled, glad to hear the bell ring.

“So when you walk down Love Lane, or past the Presbyterian church and churchyard, or past the North Fork Community Theater on Sound Avenue, you are surrounded by our rich Southold Township history,” Mr. Whalen said in his email It reads, “Listen to the whole point in that moment, and you’ll hear a call that brings back memories of our long past and optimism about our future.”

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