The Central Council has submitted a response to the Church of England’s consultation on ‘GS2222’ – its review of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011. This response has been made on behalf of bellringers generally, although individual ringers had been encouraged to respond as well. The full text of the response can be found here.
After setting out the historical context of bells and bellringing and explaining the role of bells in calling people to worship but also the wider aspects of ‘the Exercise’, the response considers the increasing significance of bellringing in the community which has been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic, and also bells as musical instruments with loud voices rather than historical artefacts. This context is important in understanding the need to remove bells from closing churches in order that their own mission can be fulfilled.
The majority of the CCCBR’s responses to the specific consultation questions focus on two aspects of the review.
Firstly, we are keen to see parish churches thrive and continue to be used so that bellringing can play a part in that worship, and bellringing can continue to play its part in the wider mission of the church. Of course this is partly driven by bellringers’ enjoyment of bellringing, but that works both ways – bells are the voice of the church whether they are ringing for a service or not, and bellringing can play a part in strengthening congregations and keeping churches open.
Secondly, recognising the fact that some churches will be closed, we set out the importance of early consideration of the bells in the closure/disposal process. The bellringing community will always be able to find a home for good rings of bells, whether in other Church of England churches, churches in other countries, secular settings, ringing centres or schools. The CCCBR is actively discussing this issue anyway with the Church Buildings Council and Historic England, and there is unity of opinion that the future of bells needs early consideration.