For about an hour and a half on Sunday, Jamaica Plain First Church rang the bell about every five seconds to remember the more than 900,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in the United States.
This weekend wasn’t the first time the church has rung its bells to remember the victims of COVID-19 – they actually started last summer. Dennis O’Brien, co-chairman of the church’s board of trustees, said she was originally inspired by the Washington National Cathedral ringing its bells for the same reason. An involved member of the congregation, Jeffrey Ferris, raised it initially, and the church has done so for every major death count milestone since.
“We hope to be able to give a container for people to bring grief to what is happening and remind people that it is still happening,” said Elizabeth Bukey, minister of the church. “Part of our role is just to point out that this is not normal. It’s not OK. They were people’s precious lives.
During the last bells, members of the community gathered to listen, but this week, partly due to the weather, there were no crowds. O’Brien and Ferris made up two-thirds of the ringing team this past weekend. The first time they rang the bells this summer, O’Brien said he counted them all. This time, to make his life easier, they went according to the weather.
He said he counted the first half hour, then did the math to figure out how long they should ring.
“We anticipate that in the spring we will have to go there and do it 1,000 times when we hit 1 million. We really hope we don’t,” O’Brien said. ” It’s dark. At the same time, we are up there doing a job. So we’re kind of like the people behind the scenes making it happen for everyone.
More than 915,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, and Bukey said she hopes the ringing of the bell will create space for people to reflect on the loss and hurt the country has suffered in the past. over the past two years.
“We do this to remember those who have passed away and to bring awareness to our own and others’ consciousness of the grief we face, just the magnitude of the death and loss we have experienced as country,” Bukey said. “We’ve kind of become numb to the number of deaths we’ve had as a country, and it’s hard to know how to deal with that.”
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