Church bells ringing in Finland for Aleppo

Helsinki's Kallio Church will ring a funeral melody to raise awareness about the bombing of Aleppo. Photo: Henna Aaltonen
Helsinki's Kallio Church will ring a funeral melody to raise awareness about the bombing of Aleppo. Photo: Henna Aaltonen

LWF supports initiative to protest violations

(LWI) - Church bells across Finland are ringing  to remember victims and protest violence in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo in Syria.

The Evangelical Lutheran Parish in Kallio, Helsinki, started the initiative in which at least 150 churches across Finland and one congregation in London, United Kingdom, will take part. The action will continue for 12 days until United Nations Day on 24 October.

Teemu Laajasalo, vicar of the Kallio congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) said the reason for the unified ringing is to show respect to the victims in Aleppo and draw attention to the situation. “We know that nothing can justify the suffering of children and civilians in Aleppo, yet at the same time we are unable to find a solution (to end the war),” he said.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) supports the initiative and encourages more churches to join in. “So many in our world feel helpless as we see the horrific news from Aleppo—a vibrant city rich in culture and history is being bombed to rubble. The human suffering is unspeakable,” said Ralston Deffenbaugh, LWF Assistant General Secretary for International Affairs.

We know that nothing can justify the suffering of children and civilians in Aleppo, yet at the same time we are unable to find a solution (to end the war).
Teemu Laajasalo, vicar, Kallio Lutheran Parish, Helsinki

Hospitals, health workers and rescuers are being targeted. Basic principles of humanitarian law are being violated with impunity, Deffenbaugh noted. “The church bells are ringing to mourn the victims, to protest the violations, to call out to heaven and earth that the horrors being inflicted on Aleppo come to an end. I hope they will be heard around the world,” he added.

Bishop BjörnVikström of ELCF Borgå Diocese is inviting congregations across the country to join in the daily bell toll at 5 pm.

According to Laajasalo, churches in Finland rarely ring their bells in unison. The last such occasion was the 1986 funeral of the country’s longest-serving president, Urho Kekkonen, who served from 1956-1982. “The Kallio church will have two bells ringing a death knell at intervals of about four minutes, something that is normally done at funerals. The melody may differ in other churches,” he added.

Deffenbaugh said the ELCF congregation initiative was another illustration of the Lutheran communion’s efforts to advocate for victims of the Syrian conflict, which has pushed an estimated 4.6 million people into neighboring countries as refugees, and displaced another 6.6 million internally.

The LWF and its member churches support Syrian refugees in Jordan at the Za’atari camp, in surrounding host communities in Al Mafraq and other cities such as Amman. LWF provides food, relief goods, shelter, water and sanitation, psychosocial care and rehabilitates schools.

Lutheran churches throughout Europe have responded to the Syrian refugee crisis on their doorsteps, with several of them establishing programs to receive refugees into their communities.

 

 

LWF News

21 November 2019
TALLINN, Estonia/GENEVA
25 October 2019
HELSINKI, Finland/GENEVA
11 October 2019
GENEVA, Switzerland