Posted 15 October 2016
At five o’clock in the evening every day in Finland, church bells are ringing across the country, symbolizing people’s sadness and solidarity with the people of Aleppo, Syria.
The war-torn city of Aleppo has been embroiled in violence as air attacks have continued. Scores of civilians have perished while marketplaces and medical facilities have been reduced to rubble.
Reacting to this situation, a member of the Kallio Parish in Helsinki had the idea of ringing the church bells to commemorate the victims in Aleppo, explained Lari Lohikoski, director of digital communication in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
That parish asked others to join, setting a time of 5 pm every day through to 24th October, United Nations Day.
Now more than 120 parishes across Finland are ringing their bells, said Lohikoski, and more are joining every day. “This has grown into a national phenomenon,” he added.
Newspapers are publishing stories, and the hashtag #alepponkellot (#BellsForAleppo) has been one of the most trending ones in Finnish twitter.
“Now the parishes want to make this an international phenomenon, and would like to see churches in other countries join them in this campaign,” said Lohikoski.
Ringing bells together is a moving way to be present in spirit and prayer for the people of Aleppo, who are facing a humanitarian crisis as war continues around them, said the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches.
The WCC underscored its long-held belief that all governments have an obligation to protect the lives and dignity of their citizens, and to protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Tveit said: “This escalation of extreme violence against the population of Aleppo is ethically unconscionable and condemnable especially when so many innocent and vulnerable people are targeted in this way.”
In April, 2013, Syrian Archbishops (Metropolitans) His Eminence Boulos (Yazigi), from the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, and His Eminence Mor Youhanna Gregorios (Ibrahim), from the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, were abducted in Aleppo.
“We keep Metropolitans of Aleppo, His Eminence Boulos (Yazigi), from the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, and His Eminence Mor Youhanna Gregorios (Ibrahim) from the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, in our thoughts and prayers,” Tveit said.
He concluded: “As the Bells for Aleppo campaign grows, may our collective calls for peace grow in volume as well.”
The ACT Alliance in collaboration with the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches have produced a short video with the church bells calling for peace and prayers. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvpZhjCcdr0&sns=fb) [WCC News]