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Church bell-ringers urged to ring out a ‘code-red warning’ on eve of COP26

22 October 2021

John Sutton/Geograph/Commons

St Mary the Virgin, Saffron Walden

St Mary the Virgin, Saffron Walden

A CAMPAIGN is growing for church bells to ring out a “code-red warning to humanity” on the eve of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow later this month.

“It’s what church bells have traditionally been used for, and the warning couldn’t be more urgent,” said the man behind the idea, Edward Gildea, the Eco Church team leader at St Mary’s, Saffron Walden, in Essex, and a climate-campaign organiser for Christian Aid. “The current threat is greater than the threat of invasion by the Armada, Napoleon, and Hitler rolled into one, as it is a global threat on a vast, possibly uncontrollable scale, in which the prime enemy is ourselves.”

He has contacted every diocese and every cathedral dean, asking them to join a 30-minute peal on 30 October. He has also set up a Facebook page: facebook.com/groups/ringoutforclimate.

His call has been backed by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, whose president, Simon Linford, said: “Many bell-ringers are planning to join in with ‘Ring out for Climate’, lending their powerful voice in support of efforts to halt climate change.”

“If sea levels rise further, we’ll have to make room for the congregation up here”The idea is endorsed by the Association of English Cathedrals. Its chairman, the Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said: “We join everyone across the world wanting action and commitment to safeguarding the integrity of the whole creation. Faith demands it of us.”

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, said: “I am happy to endorse a nationwide ‘Ring out for Climate Change’ as a symbol of warning, but also of hope, that this conference will lead to action for us all, like Jesus, to tread more gently on our single island planet home and care more for those already adversely affected by climate change.”

The Bishop of St Germans, the Rt Revd Hugh Nelson, said that he would be delighted if church bells rang across the Truro diocese. “COP26 is a critical moment for the whole of creation, with decisions to be made that will affect whether people and nature have a chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change; decisions that will have the greatest impact on the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world.”

The former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, called on as many young people as possible to urge their bell-ringers to join in. “The future of the earth is at stake,” he said. “God bless your great initiative.”

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