The Parish Council of First Parish UCC, Westwood invites the churches of our Conference to join them in remembering the 200,000+ Americans who have died from Covid-19. The First Parish bell will toll 20 times at 10 AM over 10 consecutive days beginning this Sunday, September 27.
The ringing of church bells is part of an ancient tradition to mark the passing of a member of the community and is an appropriate witness in this time of unutterable losses.
According to The Church Bells of England, "The ringing of a church bell in the English tradition to announce a death is called a death knell. The pattern of striking in earlier times depended on the person who had died; for example in the counties of Kent and Surrey in England it was customary to ring three times three strokes for a man, and three times two for a woman, with a varying usage for children. The age of the deceased was then rung out. In small settlements this could effectively identify who had just died."**
At First Parish, the ringing of the bells is to express the church's care for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones and fellow citizens. We hope that when members of our community hear the bells they will know that their lost family, friends and neighbors are not forgotten. Rev. Nancy Taylor, in a recent Old South Church video, reminded us that our bells are the church's "outside voice". Let them toll signaling the dignity of each life lost and calling the church to prayer on behalf of all those who have suffered because of this terrible pandemic.
Interim Co-Pastors, First Parish of Westwood United Church, MA
**H B Walters, The Church Bells of England, published 1912 and republished 1977 by Oxford University Press. pp156-160