As ringers we often take it for granted that we are able to ring tower
bells for church services throughout the year. Many of us are fortunate
in having an agreed time in which to practise our ringing skills too.
During the pandemic, however, all this has changed. There has been a
significant reduction, or even a total pause, in live church services
and a corresponding halt to service ringing. Change can sometimes
promote opportunity though. The present situation, and that going
forward, provides a chance for us to build a stronger relationship with
our church communities: we need to be proactive, make contact and
encourage discussions as to how ringing can be an integral part of the
activities and mission of our churches.
Key contacts within your church
Church Officers such as Churchwardens
Relevent Church Authorities (e.g. PCC) – especially the Secretary and Treasurer
Health and Safety Officer
Larger churches may also have:
A Volunteer Coordinator
A press or media contact
Key things to consider
Work with your Incumbent and relevant church authorities (e.g. PCC) to agree and review risk assessments, including an ongoing Covid-19 risk assessment.
Become familiar with the church viewpoint about the ringing of its bells. Take every opportunity to provide ringing for services either actually or virtually (see Ringing for Services – add link).
Suggest that a ringer should represent the band on the relevant church authority (e.g. PCC). This will help to promote an awareness of the role of the band and address any needs that the band may have. It is a channel that can raise the importance of bells and ringers within both the church and the wider community.
Organise regular catch-ups with your church contacts; any communication and opportunity for planning ringing is always a bonus.
Support the church – although some ringers are churchgoers, there are plenty who ring at practices and on Sundays who do not stay to services. If you normally volunteer as a bell ringer perhaps for the time being you could now help out with another voluntary role? Use the chance to talk about the bells and say: “Normally I’m a bell ringer!” Because we are often ‘out of sight, out of mind’ people are genuinely fascinated by ringers and often ask lots of questions. So whilst completing a new volunteering task you can simultaneously help to raise awareness with purposeful chat.
Invite your clergy and other church volunteers to a virtual ringing practice or an online social event. Get them to have a go too! Continue to include them once more normal activities resume after restrictions are eased.
Work together with other towers, or at Branch/District/Guild/Association level, to engage with Diocesan, Archdeaconry or Deanery officials so that ringing is included as a key part of the church recovery from the pandemic.
Sonia Field writes about working with the church at Harrow Weald during lockdown. An almost silent tower is unlikely to stay silent when ringing resumes, with a band of ringers champing at the bit, ready and waiting ... and a very warm welcome and appreciation from the church.
ringing for a Virtual Service was a great experience for the Lytchett Matravers banc. Our Vicar, Stephen
Partridge, joined in and covered to Plain Hunt. He already adds an old
recording of us ringing before and after our Virtual Service so to
include a short video for the online congregation of us ringing online
was great fun and we received some amazing comments on email and
Engaging your stakeholders
Make a Ringing Room recording
This is a great way of showing your
local community what you're doing when you can't ring your real bells.
You can also add your recording to your local online church service and
put ringing at the heart of your church community.