Bell Sunday 12th May 2024

Bell Sunday is an annual opportunity to celebrate the contribution of bell ringers to the life of the church, and to acknowledge the part that bells play in worship and community life all the year round.

This year Bell Sunday falls on 12th May 2024, and it is hoped that many churches will take this opportunity to highlight bell ringing in whatever way is appropriate locally. With co-operation between bell ringers and church leaders, it may be possible to involve the ringers in a service on the day, to include music and readings relevant to ringing, to talk about the distinctive English style of ringing, to hear some bell ringing, to visit the tower, or simply serve bell-shaped biscuits with coffee.

There are resources to assist with the arrangements and more suggestions on how to take an active part in services at

Bell Sunday is always kept on a Sunday close to St Dunstan’s feast day, who is known as the patron saint of bell ringers due to his experimentation in the early forging of bells in the 900s and his encouragement of the use of bells in parish churches. Today, the day is designed to raise awareness of bell ringing, to emphasise the importance of the sound of bells in our communities and how it can help bring church and community together, and to strengthen relationships between church leaders and bell ringers.

It is an initiative of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, the representative body for all who ring bells in the English tradition with rope and wheel. ‘Our vision for the future of ringing, Ringing 2030, includes three strategic pillars,’ explains Vicki Chapman, Deputy President of the Council. ‘The first of these pillars centres on raising awareness of the art of bell ringing and promoting it as a social and voluntary activity, as well as an important aspect of church life. Bell Sunday provides that opportunity to get ringing appreciated and understood by more people, and may even lead to some recruitment.’

It is also being supported and promoted by the Clerical Guild of Ringers, a group of ringing clergy who help to foster good relations between bell ringers and the church. They highlight the alignment of Bell Sunday with the Church of England’s strategic priority to creatively connect communities to the worshipping life of the church as part of the mixed ecology of church. ‘Bells have always been a connection between the church and the world,’ says the Revd Max Drinkwater of the Guild. ‘They are usually rung from inside the church but heard for miles around, often rung at the start or end of an act of worship as people gather or leave and involving large numbers of faithful people who might otherwise not engage with other aspects of church life. Bell Sunday is a chance to acknowledge that contribution to the rich diversity of activities that bring people together in and around the church.’

For those church leaders or members who want to explore the role of bells and bell ringers in the Church of England further, members of the Guild have written a book, The Voice of the Church, published by the Ringing World, which looks at ringing and the church from a historical, sociological and theological perspective. It also offers some practical suggestions on how to nurture good working relationships at a local level.

The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, is also an active bell ringer and member of the Guild of Clerical Ringers. He encourages people to take part in Bell Sunday too, saying, ‘I hope as many towers as possible will join in. With over 6000 rings of bells in the UK, they can be heard in virtually every community in the land.’

Bell Sunday could be a moment to say thank you to an often overlooked group of people, and to celebrate a distinctive and familiar part of English culture. It could also be the start of an ongoing conversation about how bell ringers could help to enrich the ways in which a wide range of people engage in church life. The Central Council would be pleased to hear stories of good Bell Sunday activities: contact .

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