Maine’s oldest Episcopal church seeks to save historic bell tower

By Shireen Korkzan
Posted May 2, 2023

[Episcopal News Service] Christ Church in Gardiner, Maine, is the oldest church in the Diocese of Maine. It was built in 1820, the same year Maine became a state. Three years after celebrating its bicentennial in 2020, Christ Church is now trying to raise $1 million in less than two years to save its disintegrating bell tower.

As the community of Christ Church, we have a responsibility to preserve this landmark, not only for our worship, but because of its significance as a community space for Gardiner-area residents,” says Christ Church’s donation page on its website.

Christ Church is known as a gathering space for the Gardiner community. Its bell tower houses an original bell from the Paul Revere and Son Foundry that for the last couple of centuries has been used as a call to worship, as well as to notify the community of fires, floods and, in the early 1800s, temperance meetings. Paul Revere was an industrialist and patriot best known for his 1775 Midnight Ride, when he rode on horseback to alert American colonial militia in Massachusetts that British soldiers were on their way to raid military supplies. The ride occurred just before the start of the Revolutionary War.

According to the Rev. Kerry Mansir, Christ Church’s rector, acute water damage has created hazardous cracks in the walls around the historic bell, but repairs need to start in the next two years, otherwise the bell tower will become too perilous to fix.

We just feel this responsibility as caretakers of this building now to do everything we can to keep, to restore it and have it be a historic landmark for a couple hundred more years, we hope,” Mansir told ABC affiliate WMTW.

Christ Church has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, but to keep that status, repairers will have to restore the bell tower to its original structure, “brick by brick.”

Christ Church is also hosting a Kentucky Derby charity event on May 6 to collect funds for bell tower repair. Various local businesses and organizations are sponsoring the fundraiser, which includes a charity auction.

“There is a piece of this, too, that recognizes the work of the church is ministry, and it’s hard to grasp raising this much money when there are so many needs in our community otherwise. But we do feel a responsibility to this building, to preserving what is a gift to us,” Mansir told NBC affiliate News Center Maine WCSH.

-Shireen Korkzan is a reporter and assistant editor for Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at