Saving the bell

Written on 03/08/2024
Ronald DeVito '25

Freshman preserves historical church bell

Freshman Benjamin Mick led the way in rescuing the bell that was used at Eltingville Lutheran Church prior to its demolishing. (Photo Credit: SILive)

Freshman Benjamin Mick rescues bell that was an integral part to the now-demolished Eltingville Lutheran Church.

Most people in high school would agree that lifting 405 pounds in high school, much less a 500-pound church bell, can be an arduous mission for some. And while freshman Benjamin Mick wasn’t lifting most of our seniors’ PRs, he had what seemed to be a daunting task requiring more than physical strength.

For approximately 100 years, Eltingville Lutheran Church was an integral part of that local community on the island. The church was founded by Norwegians on Staten Island’s South Shore during the 20th century, with a school serving Pre-K through eighth grades opening in September 1962. 

The church and school closed in 2019 and was recently demolished to make way for 20 townhouses. But before its demolition, Mick, whose family attended Eltingville Lutheran Church for a number of years, wanted to save a piece of a century’s worth of church and community history. 

"They were not doing anything like saving any parts of the church or anything like that," Mick said. "I was looking for an Eagle [Scout] project to do and my scout leader said it would be an innovative idea to save it."

The church that bell that formerly was part of Eltingville Lutheran Church now sits rescued and refurbished at Christ Lutheran Church in Great Kills. (Photo Credit: SILive)

After selecting this as his role, thanks to the encouragement of his father, Kevin, and his late mother, Lorraine, Mick took on the multi-step challenge of saving the bell. The first step was going through the paperwork process with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). 

As the process moved forward, more in the community invested in Mick and his cause. He acquired the help of several companies, including Lowe’s and Home Depot, as well as other corporate companies, who contributed a mast amount of money and supplies to help complete the project. With their help, as well as donations from friends and family, the project only cost Mick around $600 to complete. 

The worry was getting the bell, which was cast in 1857, out safely without harming himself or the priceless artifact. And in Mick’s mind, he wondered if it was going to be an uphill battle dealing with the demolishers. 

"My dad was saying that it is a liability if something happens while we are at their construction site," Mick said. 

Freshman Benjamin Mick's mission to save the Eltingville Lutheran Church bell, which he did as part of an Eagle Scout project, helped to bring communities together in support for his goal. (Photo Credit: SILive)

But to his relief, it turned out he wasn’t alone. His desire and the passion behind this idea, which brought the community together, ended up paying off. Even the construction company brought in to demolish the church ended up playing a role in saving such a historical local piece. 

"They worked very, very closely with us to help us get the bell," Mick said. "So, it was helpful for them to come and let us know the codes for the gates and everything. So, you could go in and look at the dimensions of the bell. So, you can really plan what we are going to be and what we are going to do to put the put the bell in enclosure."

Once this was completed, Mick had to write a report on how the project turned out. And soon enough, he was an Eagle Scout. 

And just as the BSA was created to bring community, and showcase values like leadership, determination, fearlessness, and valor, Mick embraced those characteristics and led his way to success against all odds. 

"It seemed like something that would be impossible but seeing it [play out] made me realize that it is really happening."


The Lion is Monsignor Farrell's student digital newspaper. To read more articles from The Lion, click here.