OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- They rang every Sunday for close to 90 years.
They witnessed the growth of a city and survived within a few yards of a terrorist bomb attack.
On a Saturday afternoon the bells of Oklahoma CIty's First United Methodist Church came down.
"This is the first church in Oklahoma City," says deacon Don Kuntze. "It's quite a landmark."
Kuntze and Melvin Ervin are church deacons who have a long history with the bells in the church steeple.
They were on hand to see all 11, weighing anywhere from 500 pounds to 1 ton, unbolted from their anchors.
"Those are the original bells," says Ervin. "First time removal for them."
Kuntze explains, "We're going to repair and replace the flooring and the rafters. They're water damaged from all the years, and there is hidden damage we didn't notice."
Time and exposure did their fair share of damage to the wooden beams holding the bells in place, but Kuntze says closer inspection revealed evidence of the April 19th explosion too.
Safety concerns meant silencing them several years ago.
Ervin says, "I think it's been five to seven years at least."
With the hope of repairing and ringing them again, a crane lifted each bells and beam through the top of the belfry, up and out like a fleeting spirit.
But with a promise from some of the same people who saw their history that they will ring again.
"Yes," says Kuntze. "It's going to be a big celebration when they come back."
"We'll have some kind of party," agrees Ervin, "when we ring them again."
The First Church bells will get a cleaning and go into storage while the belfry floor is reinforced and a new steel framework is put in place.
Church officials are patient.
They waited 3 years after the Oklahoma City Bombing to get back into their damaged church building.
If you want to see a birds eye view of the bells being lifted by the crane click here.