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Now that the national death toll from COVID-19 has reached the 100,000 mark, including 81 dead in Maine as of Wednesday afternoon, many are reflecting on those somber numbers.
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In Bangor, parishioners at All Souls Congregational Church shared their feelings during virtual meetings with their deacons. The congregation came up with a way to remember those lost, those affected and those helping during the pandemic.
Each Wednesday at 12:19 p.m. for the foreseeable future, All Souls will ring its church bells to honor the dead, the ill, the dislocated and the first responders. The noon hour has no significance, but the 19 symbolizes COVID-19.
The inaugural ringing was Wednesday.
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“The idea is to commemorate that loss of life, and to send out a prayer for everyone,” said Doug Kavanaugh, a senior deacon at All Souls. “We hope that it is a message of hope and love, and a recognition of the fact that we are all affected by this. Every nation, race and religion are all forever changed by this.”
Kavanaugh said he hopes other churches in the region will join in on the 12:19 p.m. Wednesday bell-ringing. St. John’s Catholic Church on York Street has already agreed to ring its bells at the appointed time.
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“There are also churches that don’t have the ability to ring their bells that have voiced their support,” Kavanaugh said. “Hopefully, over time, others will join with us.”
Churches from various denominations from all over the world have been ringing their bells to symbolically honor the victims of the pandemic, from those in New York and Illinois to Catholic churches in Italy — often with the idea that the ringing will serve as a message of hope and a plea for compassion.
“We will do our best if we all treat each other with love, respect and compassion,” said Kavanaugh. “That’s how we’ll get through this — by being kind and loving to one another.”