The use of bells in churches dates back to 400 AD when a Paulinus of Nola introduced bells as part of church services. In 604 AD, Pope Sabinian officially sanctioned the ringing of church bells specifically during the celebration of the Eucharist and to announce times of daily prayer. By the early Middle Ages, church bells were common in Europe.
As church bells became common elsewhere in the world, their importance grew. Church bells became a form of mass communication to convey religious and secular information. For example, in 18th century America, church bells rang not only as a part of worship, but also to alert communities of important events such as the end of a war, of emergencies such as a fire, or of an important community gathering.
Today, certain Christian denominations use large and small bells as part of their worship and throughout the week. Churches ring bells to:
– Signal that service is about to begin.
– Remind us of God’s daily presence in our lives.
– Announce prayer times during which the faithful are encouraged to unite in prayer.
– Honor a special occasion taking place at the church, such as a wedding or funeral.
– Highlight a specific stage of a church service, such as when the Eucharist is consecrated.
– Welcome Christmas day and Easter day with a “joyful noise” (Psalm 100).
As many of you know, the bells and carillon at Gethsemane were damaged by a lightening strike, but fortunately, thanks in part to Bob Koski and others, we still have the original bell that was salvaged and restored and hangs at the base of the bell tower. It still works.
Now more than ever, we need to be ringing our church bell. We need to be called back to prayer. We need to be reminded of God’s presence in our daily life. And our community needs to know we are here praying and serving during this difficult time. So, I am enlisting all of you, to consider being a bell ringer during the month of May. We would like our bell to be rung for at least 1 minute every day at noon. If you would be willing to ring the bell you would need to do the following:
1. Call the church to sign up for a day (single day) or a day of the week (i.e. every Tuesday).
2. Walk or drive to the church by noon.
3. Wear gloves and social distance. Only be accompanied by people in your own household or stay 6 feet apart if walking with a friend or neighbor. Do not ride in the same car with someone you are not sheltering in place with. Wearing gloves will ensure your safety and the safety of others touching the bell.
4. Ring the bell by pushing the clapper (the tongue of the bell) hard enough for it to strike the outside causing it to ring. Ring it for at least 1 minute. Please consider wearing earplugs. If you do not have some, please call the church.
Also, I hope all of us will set an alarm on our cell phone, watch or clock to go off at noon. Wherever you are at that moment, please stop what you are doing and pray. During this time when we may feel the world is so in need of help and yet, due to social distancing, wonder what we can do, we can pray! Please check our Facebook page as we will have videos, updates and prayer concerns posted to help you with and to be included in your daily prayers.