At five o'clock in the evening today - and 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 continued this week. 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 to ring 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 p.m. every day through 24 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,” said Lohikoski.
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 one way in 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 Marianne Ejdersten, director of communication for the World Council of Churches. “The ringing of bells reminds us that peace starts with a single sound that resonates into refrains heard around the world.”
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.