Church bells to ring 19 times Thursday to recognize challenges of COVID-19

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On Thursday, Rome’s church bells will chime.

At noon on that day the church bells in Rome will be heard sounding 19 times to recognize the toll and the challenges that the coronavirus has imposed on the world.            

In a recent conversation among local church leaders, a way was being sought to to honor the National Day of Prayer which is the first Thursday of every May, says Pastor Sam Pendergrast of the First Presbyterian Church, 108 W. Court St.

Typically the local observance of the National Day of Prayer would be to gather for a prayer breakfast, however those types of events are no longer possible, he added.

With that in mind, at noon on Thursday, participating churches in Rome will ring their bells 19 times to draw attention to the impact the virus has had on the community and the world.

Pendergrast said that while his church has a carillon - an automatic mechanism which typically plays bell melodies - he will be climbing into his church’s bell loft and ring a bell by hand that dates to 1851 that is still in the church.

“I am going to do it the old fashioned way,” he said.

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