Governor Dannel P. Malloy has called for a moment of silence on Friday morning, December 21st, at 9:30 am -- seven days after violence erupted at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He has requested churches and other civic organizations who can to ring their bells 26 times.
UCC churches have stepped forward with a resounding "Yes." As of 4:30 pm, 124 congregations had responded to a quick email asking them to verify they would. Some will gather for silent prayer; every single church that did not have bells to ring has such a plan. At the United Church of Rowayton UCC, they have no bell, but pastor the Rev. John Livingston plans to stand on the church balcony and ring a handbell.
Many churches plan to ring for all of the dead, including the two members of the Lanza family. In Cheshire, the bell will toll 31 times, adding to those remembered the community of Newtown, all people and communities marred by violence, and the conversations needed to prevent future tragedies.
by Connie Larkman
United Church News
CLEVELAND (12/20/2012) -- The United Church of Christ is joining the governor of Connecticut and a group of interfaith religious leaders calling for a moment of silence and remembrance Friday morning, Dec. 21, in honor of the souls who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy last week.
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, citing the outpouring of love and compassion from every state and around the world, is asking places of worship and government buildings to ring their bells tomorrow morning at 9:30 am in their respective time zones, to remember the "twenty beautiful school children and six dedicated educators taken from their families and their loved ones."
The UCC national officers are urging churches to ring their bells 28 times, once for each person who lost their life last Friday, Dec. 14 in Newtown, Connecticut.
"Too often we focus on what divides us as people, instead of what binds us together as human beings," wrote Governor Malloy, in a letter released yesterday. "The sense of community that has emerged in the wake of this tragedy should not be lost."
Immediately after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the UCC national officers issued a reflection and prayer, calling for an end to gun violence. "We must renew our efforts to control guns and thereby prevent violent tragedies such as this. We must learn how to place our trust in God, not in arms. We must turn swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks," the statement reads. In the wake of this mass murder, our denomination is just one of many lifting up a collective moral voice urging Congress and the President to continue to act to end the national epidemic of gun violence.
In a message offered to the people of Connecticut yesterday, Interim Conference Minister the Rev. Charles L. Wildman wrote, "Now is the perfect time to proclaim our faith in the God who seeks life and wholeness for all people... Proclaim God's reign of goodness and mercy up to the very doorstep of death and destruction."
"And after this season of holiness reluctantly cedes to winter's ways, let us gather in our communities, our states, and our national capitol, to determine how we can build a society fit for all God's children."
Tomorrow, an interfaith group of religious leaders will gather at Washington National Cathedral during the moment of remembrance, for the tolling of the Cathedral’s Bourdon Bell (funeral bell). This group is calling upon churches and houses of worship around the country to ring bells at 9:30 a.m. EST in honor of each life that was taken in last week’s tragedy.
"As people of faith, we have the moral obligation to stand for and with the victims of gun violence and to work to end it," said the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral. "Let us pray not only for the victims and those affected by the tragedy but also for ourselves, that we may have courage to act, so that the murderous violence done on Friday may never be repeated."
"We must come together as people of faith, representing the range of religious traditions throughout our country, in a collective call to action to end this crisis," said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. "The time to end senseless gun violence is now, and as religious leaders, the responsibility to provide moral leadership is ours."
Connie Larkman is Managing Editor and News Director for the United Church of Christ.