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Burin churches ringing bells for essential workers


Nicholas Mercer

The Central Voice

Burin, N.L. — Ethel Paul’s husband Don grabbed the rope and pulled.

It was 7 p.m. on March 29 in the small Burin peninsula community of Collin’s Cove and the church bell at Zion United Church rang with each tug of the rope from Don and Ethel.

It was one of four churches that make up the local United Church pastoral charge ringing their bells as part of a provincial act to make noise in support of essential workers in their fight against the COVID-19 virus.

Ethel listened to each ring and she thought of it bouncing off the nearby hills and out through the bay. She could feel the weight of the situation the province finds itself lifting a little with each ring.

“Just to hear (the bells) ring ... it is uplifting,” said Ethel, a member of the Burin United Church pastoral charge. “It can make a difference.”

The act resonated with the public and there was a suggestion the ringing of the bells should be a regular thing.

The United Church agreed and it made a plan to make it happen. This plan included incorporating all of the denominations that have churches on the peninsula into a weekly event called Burin Peninsula Bells of Hope & Thanksgiving.

“(The sound) means different things to different people,” said Vic Lundrigan, a member of the church. “It is comforting.”

More than a dozen churches from Terrenceville to Lamaline have committed to sounding their bells and organizers have asked members of the public to contribute to their symphony of noise throughout this month.

Friday evening (April 3) will be the sixth consecutive night that seven-year-old Andrew Billard will pull a part of his drum set onto the deck of his Burin home. He’ll set up a snare drum and a cymbal at 7 p.m. each night and bang away for the next 10 minutes while his parents turn on the Christmas lights.

“We have a couple of neighbours who are nurses and when they heard Andrew's drums they were out on their steps waving and smiling,” said Andrew’s mother, Shauna Edwards-Billard. “So, we thought we would just keep it going.”

Andrew and his parents were inspired to help out any way they could after seeing the call for sound over the weekend.

“(Andrew) is getting lots of comments on Facebook from nurses in the area thanking him and he loves that he is making them happy,” said Shauna.

The isolation measures put in place by the provincial government has meant a change in the way people live their lives. People are spending less time in social situations and more times waving at their neighbours from across the garden. The bells are a way to help everyone realize they aren’t alone, especially nurses, doctors and others at the frontline.

“(Essential workers) need to know that the community is behind them and they are not alone,” said Ethel.

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