Pealing For Peace *Corrected

by Gerry Lynch last modified 13 Feb, 2017 01:31 PM

Bells toll in West Wilts to remember all victims of war. In other news, a petition has been launched.

Church bells have been ringing out in a small Wiltshire village in solidarity with all victims of war in all places from all ages.

The bellringing at St Mary the Virgin in Westwood, near Bradford-on-Avon, was the brainchild of villager Jill Ross.

[This story has been corrected. Read the letter here, or scroll to the bottom]

Jill Ross has also launched a petition calling on Archbishop Justin Welby to urge churches across the country to join the #BellsforAleppo movement and ring their bells in solidarity with the war-ravaged city.

#BellsForAleppo, which began in Finland, has seen hundreds of churches worldwide, including at least 11 in the UK, join in and ring their bells for Aleppo, some weekly at 5pm each Friday.

Jill said, “We can feel so helpless watching the appalling images from Aleppo on our screens. It’s vital we help the people there keep hope alive, so I launched the petition to encourage churches here in the UK to get behind the initiative and send them a message of solidarity.

“The city of Aleppo is a living hell. The east of the city is under constant heavy bombardment from the Syrian regime and Russia. A quarter of a million people, including more than 100,000 children, are trapped here under siege. Hospitals, health workers and rescue teams have all been targeted.

“I teach English to some Syrian women and if you ask them if they like England, they say at once ‘yes, because here my children are safe’.

“One of them has a father who is a doctor who has chosen to stay in Aleppo where he works in a hospital treating the injured. Last week she played me a recording made that morning by her brother, also still in Aleppo, of the bombs falling every few seconds.

“We need to protest against these violations, to mourn the victims, and to call for an immediate end to the atrocities.

“When I read that churches across Finland have started tolling their bells in solidarity with Aleppo, I was moved to suggest a similar bell-ringing in my local church of St Mary the Virgin. I would urge other churches to consider if they might join in.”

Among those backing the initiative is Christian Aid. The charity has contacted Archbishop Justin to let him know of its support for the #BellsForAleppo initiative.

The charity’s Wiltshire coordinator Stephen Dominy said, “We were delighted to hear of Jill’s initiative and would echo her call for other churches to get involved however they can.

“Christian Aid condemns the horrific violence in Aleppo and reaffirms its call for a sustained ceasefire across the entire country.

“There must be an immediate stop to the killing of innocent civilians and the opportunity for people to get the humanitarian aid they so desperately need.”

Jill is also backing Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal, #LighttheWay, urging churches to give, act or pray for the world’s 65million displaced people who have no safe place to call home.

“At Christmas we all treasure the warmth and light of our own homes”, she explained, “Too many people do not have that luxury. I hope that individuals and churches will help give light to those who are suffering as a result of war whether it is by donating to Christian Aid’s Christmas appeal, through prayer, or by calling on the Government to act for peace and to show humanity in its response to refugees – or through sounding out their bells.”

Stephen Dominy concluded, “This Christmas we are appealing to people to ‘Light the Way’, so we can continue to provide critical support to people displaced in parts of the world, and at the same time work with partner organisations to tackle the structural causes of poverty and conflict.”

To sign Jill’s petition click here or to learn about how to support #LighttheWay visit here.

The learn more about the #BellsForAleppo movement, visit its international website bellsforaleppo.org, or follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

This web piece originally said,

"Church bells have been ringing out in a small Wiltshire village in solidarity with the city of Aleppo and those leaving in fear across the world.

"The peal at St Mary the Virgin in Westwood, near Bradford-on-Avon, was the brainchild of villager Jill Ross..."

The bells rang for all victims of war in all places from all ages, not just for Syria. It was not a full peal. We apologise for the errors.

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