CONNEAUT — Computer wizardry of tomorrow will soon create sacred music of yesterday at the Conneaut First Congregational United Church of Christ.

Chimes that have been silent for nearly 40 years will ring out once again during an 11 a.m. Sunday celebration at the church, Main and Buffalo streets.

The event will be a highlight of the church’s year-long 100th birthday celebration, said Judith Parlongo, chairperson of the centennial committee.

“We will hear bells ringing us to church,” she said.

Fourteen of the church’s original 20 tubular chimes have been overhauled and made ready for Sunday’s official debut. Chime Master Systems of Lancaster installed sophisticated technology that will allow a computer programmed with song selections to active the chimes in the bell tower 75 feet above the sidewalk.

A keyboard can be added that would allow a musician to play the chimes via the computer. Microphones that lead to the church’s public address system will allow the music to be heard clearly inside the building.

Parlongo stressed the computer merely activates the strikers that make contact with the chimes. No canned, artificial or synthesized sounds are created, she said.

The project also included some repairs to the bell tower roof, she said.

Cost of the restoration will approach $50,000, Parlongo said. A grant from the Ashtabula Foundation will pay the bulk of the work, she said. Conneaut’s Eagles Club also made a generous donation, Parlongo said.

The balance of the money came from parishioners and chime-lovers in and out of town, Parlongo said. Response was amazing, considering the fund-raising campaign was authorized in January.

“No one thought we’d get so far so fast,” she said.

The chiming system has been silent since 1969. Initially, the church hoped to make five of the chimes operation, but enthusiastic reaction to the project enabled 14 to be fixed. As a result, a much larger number of songs can be added to the repertoire, Parlongo said.

“Ninety-five percent of all music can be played with 14 chimes,” she said.

The project struck a responsive chord in many people, Parlongo said. “This is something people wanted to hear,” she said.

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