• Alison Hodge
    About 90% of the bells that we ring are under the authority of the Church of England. So how do we, as ringers, keep in regular contact with the Incumbents, Area Deans, Archdeacons etc? What formal and informal mechanisms do we find successful? Conversely, do they know how to contact us as ringers?

    Are there any lessons to learn from the various towers that are not in the Church of England?
  • A J Barnfield
    I imagine that most contact these days will be with a church warden/PCC.
  • John Harrison
    we have formal and informal contacts with both wardens and clergy, initiated by either side as required.
    At the moment the church building is closed for renovation and the Rector is encouraging us to ring for as many things as we can, just to emphasise that the church is alive and kicking despite the contractor's fencing.
  • Phillip George
    We are lucky in our village tower because we are part of the church diary. We are always talking with the wardens and rector. We look for any reason to ring and are often asked by the rector to ring for other things. Over the years we have made the effort to be "front of house", always letting everyone know what we are doing. Our close involvement with the church is an advantage but I think it is likely to be more difficult in other towers where ringers might have less contact, or for towers with no local/regular band because they are less likely to have the type of relationship which we enjoy.
    Church officers/clergy/PCC members generally have no idea what is even in the tower let alone how the excercise works, and we as ringers have to be continually educating them in this respect. In our parish the ringers don't have and dont need to have any contact with area deans or archdeacons, we have a very flat reporting line which is excellent!
    Some Ideas
    1. Ringers appoint a main contact between ringers and church (Incumbent/wadens as relevant). This could be the T/C but needn't be.
    2. Contact to regularly update church with ringing schedules/tower maintenance/training etc.
    3. Contact to regularly communicate with community if possible with details about ringing times/extra ringing and why etc and always give contact details.
    4. Actively use social media. We have Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/website accounts.
    4. Develop trust between church / community and ringers so that gradually people begin to understand a little about the activity and reasons for it, be they for church or secular. This has worked well for us. I am retired (advantage) and during my interaction with local people, many non-church will ask about ringing and say how much they enjoy hearing the bells. Use this feedback to pass on to church and ringers.
    5. Summary - the tower must understand what it needs to do and make the effort; then communicate, communicate and finally communicate again!
    Hope this might help. Always happy to answer questions on our experiences.
  • Phillip Orme
    Designated contact people is essential - At Cambridge GSM the Society of Cambridge Youths have multiple links; the secretary liaises with regards to day-to-day activities, peals/weddings/special services etc. whilst our immediate past-master, who is on the PCC, ensures there is a flow of info between the church management and the ringing officers. The church also try to ensure who ever takes the early morning service then makes an appearance in the ringing chamber for pre-ringing prayers for the 10am morning service. We also have the University Guild who also have their ringing activities at GSM and the SCY Officers ensure communication between them and the church is maintained. As Phillip G above says "communicate, communicate and finally communicate again!" is the mantra
  • John de Overa
    Our TC was chosen by the ringers and approved by the Incumbent and is on the PCC, his mum is Churchwarden, I'm appointed by incumbent as steeplekeeper for the tower, bells & clock and I am on the church maintenance team. The 2018 rehang project was formally approved by the PCC and then delegated to ringers, the PCC treasurer managed the finances. We are on the church calendar and we are a balcony ring so we all say Hi to someone on the PCC every Sunday on the way in.

    As other's have said, integrate yourself into the life of the church and talk to them regularly - it's not that hard.
  • Giles Blundell
    Above the individual church level, surely *how* things should work is obvious: in broad terms (sometimes broader than others) ringers have a territorial structure of Diocesan/County/etc Associations that mirrors the church's diocesan structure. Broadly (still), one Association should be able to talk to one or a handful of dioceses , while a diocese should be able to talk to one or a handful of Associations.

    Is there a consensus that this model isn't working?
  • Tristan Lockheart

    Not having any experience at association level, I would not wish to comment on whether that part of the system still works. But for most ringers, the most influential force in their ringing activities must be the benefice/parish level. They are the one who call the shots, and interpret diocesean rules and advice as they see fit.

    This is where the problems lie, because the concept of local bands is in decline, or local bands are more transient. @Phillip George's tower seems to be a case study of "how to do it" for a local band, but you're not going to get that same relationship if you are covering multiple towers, or if there is only ad-hoc ringing from bands from other areas or non-territorial bands.

    In this case, who is the main contact to be?

    • A ringer who happens to live locally? They don't have as much of an incentive to keep relations particularly strong as they are not necessarily maintaining opportunities for themself if there is no band to ring with, and they are just one person.
    • A member of the church team, either formally or informally? They don't necessarily have the contacts with the ringers or an understanding of our culture or practices.
    • A member of the cluster or area band? Are they keen to do it or is it that they're the only one who is willing to do it and someone is needed to keep the bells ringable and make sure the church continues to allow ringing for the cluster or area band?

    Giles, the traditional model only works if most towers have a tower band. But if we were to do a census of all towers nationally, how many would have a tower band who practice regularly with all bells and ring for Sunday services? And if there was data from 1990, what would be the difference in numbers?

    I would be interested to hear from others of examples of best practice where there is no local band (either with no local ringers or with clustering/area arrangements).
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