The wooden steeple on the First Church Winthrop United Methodist is being replaced with a new fiberglass steeple while the church bell inside the steeple will have a new home on the front lawn of the church that is located on Winthrop Street.
The church, which is depicted on the Town of Winthrop seal, was built in 1929, but it has existed since 1817. There are more than 200 current members.
â€œWeâ€™ll start installing the new steeple next week,â€ said Ruth Hopkins, coordinator of the steeple replacement project. â€œThe old steeple had been here since it opened in 1929.â€
Hopkins said the old steeple was deemed unsafe because the wood had rotted. The insurance company told church officials that the steeple had to be replaced.
Two cellular phone companies, Sprint and Verizon, will place their antenna dishes inside the new steeple. A third cellular phone company will place its antenna dish inside the steeple in January. The companies made donations to the church for use of the steeple.
Stephen Stoddard Sr., an active member who organizes bi-monthly dinners for the membership, said that the churchâ€™s bell was made by William Hooper â€œand Mr. Hooper once worked for Paul Revere.â€
Alecia Reeves-Freeman, pastor of the church, called the installation of the new steeple â€œa dawn of a new day for First Church.â€
Freeman said church members were proactive in getting the project launched and carried out to its completion.
â€œWith the excellent team we have here, there should ne a new awakening to the community that we are here for a long time,â€ said Reeves-Freeman. â€œThe church bell on the front lawn should be a legacy of our faith for the previous members who actually worshiped here and hope for the future generations that will worship here.â€
Freeman said she is optimistic about the churchâ€™s future.
â€œThe future is very bright,â€ said Reeves-Freeman. â€œWe had some difficult years like anyone else, but it looks very bright in terms of the church being a continuous presence in Winthrop. Our congregation has grown and we have members who volunteer at the food pantry and the senior center.â€
Stephen Stoddard Jr. has been a member of the church for 40 years.
â€œItâ€™s a new era for the church,â€ said Stoddard. â€œItâ€™s a little bit sad. I remember as a kid pulling the church bell and ringing it every Sunday morning with my grandfather. Iâ€™ve very excited for the church, though, because it does allow them to keep the building open and help with the bills and it will look much better and there will be less maintenance. First Church has been a vital part of the church for more than 200 years. Iâ€™d like to see it be a vital part of the church for the next 200 years.â€