MOUNT AIRY, Md. - It's been dotting the Maryland map since 1884 -- 129 years of family, prayer and faith.
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The Howard Chapel - Ridgeville United Methodist Church is now one building but for more than a century it was two, the other location in downtown Mount Airy.
It closed in 1993 consolidating into its current building, but now it is time to expand once again.
A wing the church's chairman of trustees wants to build with the congregation's heritage as the foundation; a second steeple to house the more than 100 year old bell from its other location.
"That would bring two bells together, make us you know one church and really feel like it," said Don Brightwell.
But two weeks ago that bell was stolen.
Brightwell had been storing it since he saved it back in 1993, the two hundred pound relic was to be the symbol that brought two congregations together.
"It has meaning because it's a tangible expression of their love for God."
Reverend Laura Schultz leads this congregation, while the bell is just a material thing it represents much more and is pleading with whoever took it to return it.
"Please return the bell. I mean this is just something that is really important to us...and for whatever reason they have it, it's not as important. This is part of Maryland history, this is part of Mount Airy history....this is part of our family’s history...so please return it," Schultz pleaded.
And if you do, the church says it will take it back no questions asked; no charges filed.
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