Church bells will be ringing on Sunday more than usual in communities throughout Missouri.
Several faith groups have called on churches to ring their bells for two minutes at noon to recognize essential workers and memorialize those who have died of COVID-19.
The Rev. Deon Johnson, bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, said that in addition to prayer, ringing bells is one way he hopes people can show their support for people in their own communities.
“I would hope that if you have a pot, a pan, something, that you can stand outside at 12 o’clock and beat on to show your support both for essential workers and to commemorate those who have died,” Johnson said. “I think that would be a wonderful thing.”
Leaders from the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, the Diocese of West Missouri, the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy and the Central States Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are taking part and asking other churches to follow.
Johnson said bells were fitting because of the role they’ve historically played in Christianity.
“It’s a call to worshippers not just to worship, but to signify special events and special times in communal life,” Johnson said. “And so, I had the idea of recognizing those who have lost their lives and the families that mourn them as well as celebrating those unsung heroes.”
The death toll in the nation surpassed 100,000 Wednesday. Johnson said the grim news served as a needed reality check.
“Each one of those lives is a story,” Johnson said, “and each one of those lives matters. So I hope we are able to commemorate them in a sacred and solemn but yet hopeful way.”
In a statement, the Rt. Rev. Martin Field, bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri, said now more than ever it’s important to support essential workers. As the state opens up, he said it’s important for their efforts not to be in vain.
"As we take our first tentative steps away from self-isolation, it is important that we remember those who have suffered, lost their lives and those who have worked ceaselessly to keep our society going,” Field said. “In ringing the church bells, we are expressing our thanks and support to all who have served us so well and our care and our concern for all who have been impacted by the pandemic."
All churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri will be taking part including Christ Church Cathedral. Bells will ring on Sunday starting at noon.