Easter Sunday Ringing Guidance

Many incumbents are asking if some bells can be rung as part of their church or cathedral’s Easter celebrations, and bellringers are also keen to play part. The Central Council believes that bells are an important part of the act of worship, particularly on Easter Sunday. Unlike at Christmas, UK and Irish Governments have not introduced any relaxations of the rules on meeting indoors for Easter. Those rules are readily available and well understood.

The CC has established guidance on reducing the risk of ringing both to ourselves and each other, and most recently published our latest thinking on virus transmission and ventilation in ringing chambers, with chancel crossings at one end of the risk scale and small airless rooms at the other. The CC recommend considering all these factors when decided how many bells can be rung and for how long, in consultation with your incumbent, churchwardens or Cathedral Chapters.

One or more bells ringing on Easter Sunday will surely be appreciated by our churches and communities.

[ republished from the CCCBR website 19 Mar 2021 ]

CC Update 29 March 2021

Clarification has been sought on guidance for ringing for Easter Day services as some have seen that ‘group bell ringing’ is listed alongside ‘amateur choir practice’ in a list of things not currently permitted in a Place of Worship.

That wording ‘group bell ringing’ was a term first coined by MHCLG when we were trying to separate service ringing from the more recreational forms of ringing such as practices, so as not to get all ringing put into the same basket. We didn’t want to have bell ringing prohibited as it initially was, and following discussion between the House of Bishops Recovery Group and MHCLG the term ‘group bell ringing’ was used to mean ringing outside a worship setting. It didn’t receive a formal definition in any Statutory Instrument, just as terms like mingle retained a degree of ambiguity and opportunity for interpretation. It’s use alongside ‘amateur choir practice’ emphasises that distance from the worship setting.

Following many calls from ringers and their incumbents to find a way to enable ringing on Easter Sunday, arguably the most important service of the year, we developed the guidance published on 19th March. This does not give carte blanche to ‘ring normally’ like we were able to at Christmas, but would at least enable any band to make a sensible decision on how many bells to ring. The House of Bishops Recovery Group has re-read that CC guidance for Easter ringing and agreed that it is as permissive as we can be and are comfortable with it. They point out that at the end of the Places of Worship Guidance that some are quoting is the Key Principle that it’s the ‘Venue Manager’, i.e. the person responsible for the church, who has discretion in this matter.

The concession that is actually being made is enabling ringers to meet together to ring and not be defined as ‘mingling’. Generally the Recovery Group is still of the view that even socially distanced ringing is mingling, especially in a closed ringing chamber, but are being pragmatic given how much of a call there is for bells on Easter Sunday. Choirs are also being granted dispensation to sing at Easter, as a temporary measure and with 2m distancing. The RSCM has also said that “the responsibility rests at local level, with cathedral chapters and PCCs, incumbents, and churchwardens.”

Of course the law and guidance can alternatively be read so as not to allow ringing on Easter Sunday, and some may wish to follow that.

Simon Linford - CCCBR President

[republished from the CCCBR Facebook page 29 March 2021 ]

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