Ring at Noon During the Pandemic

The National Bell Festival is pleased to highlight and support a new project by City of Bells, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit committed to coordinating, restoring, and celebrating bronze bell installations. They have coordinated hundreds of bells to ring out in the Twin Cities area and are encouraging other cities and states to join in. BellFest is enthusiastically answering the call in Washington.

Daily bell ringing began on Monday, April 13, 2020, and will continue daily through the pandemic. Churches and institutions with bells are encouraged to ring out in unity at noon for up to 15 minutes. 

Project coordinator Rebecca Jorgenson Sundquist, City of Bells president, described the sacred role bells play in society: “Bells remind us of our shared humanity. Bells remind us that we are not alone. Bells point us to the divine. And bells remind us that we are one community.”

Bell ringing has a long history in America. Kimberly Schafer, founder and partner of Community Bell Advocates in Chicago, writes: 

“Early tower bells served many more functions than calling the faithful to Sunday service. The bells told community members to wake up, to prepare dinner, and tolled for deaths, for example. School bells, from one-room schoolhouses to colleges, directed students to class. Bells in courthouses rang the time and alarms for fire. Other bells rang signals on ships, trains, wagons, and sleighs. Handbells were used by schoolteachers, peddlers, and town criers with the news.

Bells have rung for important events, in joy and in mourning, in our land. Paul Revere rang church bells to signal the invasion of the British military at the beginning of the American Revolution. The bell in the Old State House in Philadelphia, later called the Liberty Bell, announced the public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776. The courthouse bell in Chicago tolled incessantly during the devastating 1871 fire, until the bell melted in the building’s inferno. In modern times, bell ringings commemorate important anniversaries, such as of 9/11 and the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI in 2018.”

Bells form an integral part of our shared community experience and now, as social distancing keeps us apart, the sound of a bell echoing across a neighborhood can bring us all a little closer together in a real, meaningful way. Please consider joining BellFest in ringing at noon with City of Bells.

Cover image: Walker Art Center with Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral carillon in the distance, Minneapolis, Minnesota.