Unconventional conventions

Starting yesterday two #bellringing organsations were presenting a series of talks designed to help the recovery of #bellringing after the pandemic.  Talks would be delivered via Zoom and take place over this weekend, every evening next week and next weekend.  Topics being covered included:

  • Building better relations with church;
  • Question & Answer session;
  • How to re-establish ringing;
  • Getting bells and towers in order;
  • Managing expectations;
  • Holding a successful practice;
  • Developing a ringing cluster;
  • Virtual beer tasting, and
  • Ringing schools in town and country

As a member of the steering group, I will be attending all of them, which meant another very busy week ahead.  The first session was presented by Rev Max Drinkwater, a member of the Guild of Clerical Ringers and Rev Tony Ellis, the Guild President.  They described their role as having “a foot in both camps”.  Following a brief history of how the Guild joined the Central Council only last year, before moving on to various questions such as “why do people ring bells” and how the Guild can support ringing and make it easier for ringers to access the church authorities.

They recognised the contribution that ringers help the church, including pointing out when the church spire needed work doing to it. They were working on a document as an example of good practice for clergy and ringers to have a good and harmonious relationship.

It was noted that the church was rediscovering what it meant by “the church” itself and anyone that has a role to play in the community based in a church building is part of “the church”.  One controversial question was whether a tower captain should have to attend services.  It was recognised this would differ between churches and be part of a conversation about expectations and direction of travel, to understand if you felt that #bellringing was part of your personal worship or vocation. If they insisted you should attend church services, perhaps you should insist they visit the tower.

In one area they had arranged with their Diocesan Bishop for a #bellrinigng clergy to do a talk about bells and #bellringing to a group of non-ringing clergy.  This would be something to investigate.

I think the key take aways for me were 1. being proactive in having a conversation.  Don’t wait for the church to come to you, go to them and make the conversation happen.  It might not be with the clergy, but another member of the team who is responsible for outreach, or the communications officer. A way to get to the Diocesan Bishop might be through their Chaplain, who looks after their diary and responsible for putting important things in front of the Bishop. 2. Don’t underestimate the importance that bellringers have in the church family.

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