Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bells? We don't want no stinking bells!

COUNCILLORS will decide whether bells can ring out from an Oxford church for the first time in at least four decades after a cacophony of complaints from neighbours.

Russian Orthodox church St Nicholas the Wonderworker has applied to Oxford City Council for permission to install and ring new bells.

While originally a church, the Ferry Road building’s last use was as a sign factory and the ringing of bells was not allowed when planning permission was granted to turn it back into a place of woship in 2010.

But after being given a gift of bells made in Russia, the church now wants to have its planning permission changed – attracting more than 20 objections to Oxford City Council.

They have accused the church of bringing conflict into the local area and say the changes would “distress” the residents.

Ferry Road resident Ian Plummer said: “Bells by design are loud and carry long distances.

“The tolling of bells is not part of the general character of the area. The majority of the Russian Orthodox congregation do not live locally, including the priest, and hence it is incongruous that the local residents should be expected to suffer an additional frippery.”
Read the rest here.


Ingemar said...

I'm afraid I'll have to side with the locals on this one. The parish could just to what the nearby Serbs do here, and have a bell recording meant for indoor use only.

Anonymous said...

A bell recording for indoor use only??? What childishness!! I say ring the bells and forget the neighbors!


gabriel said...

While I would generally hope people would be happy to hear bells ring, de gustibus &c., &c., and in fairness to the neighbours, this wasn't part of the original deal, so this has an aspect of switching horses on a buyer.

Of course, if the parish were able to recruit Metropolitan Kallistos' soothing tones to explain the merits of the ringing of bells to the neighbours, I am sure all would be put entirely at peace with this addition.

Anonymous said...

The Church accepted the no-bell stipulation when it was founded. Like all citizens, its members are free to request a hearing for a change to that stipulation. And other citizens are free to speak out in favor of the status quo.

The underlying issue is that 20 or so residents do not perceive GOD as part of the "general character of the area." But Christianity and its customs are a foundational aspect of Oxford. Bells ring not only to summon local faithful to the temple, but to sing the praise of God and to remind the un-faithful that Christ is in our midst, beseeching us to come and follow Him.

Bells are an important aspect of Russian Orthodox Culture - so, in a truly multi-cultural society, they should be welcomed as a sign of "diversity" and "inclusiveness," the two great commandments of the present age.

There is a Methodist Church a couple blocks from our monastery. I am not Methodist. But I certainly have no problem with the sound of bells or carillon that floats from their tower over our grounds periodically. I enjoy it, actually.

We ring a bell (we have only one, and not a very good one) before the midday and evening services at the monastery. We do not ring it for the morning service, out of consideration for our neighbors (who are not very far away, given that we are inside the city). A little "give and take" goes a long way among those of good will. Maybe St Nicholas' Church and the local heathen could try something like that?

Igumen Gregory said...

Gee i wonder if they would hold that same view if the Muslims had a moque there and aired the 5 time a day call to prayer? Makes you wonder!

Deacon Down Under said...

Church bells were common throughout England and Australia from every Anglican church, calling the faithful to prayer and to church, with the first service at 8 a.m. I hope St Nicholas win their appeal and the right to sanctify Sunday with the sound of bells. To reject it, for those who want to lie in bed is blatant discrimination against believers.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The obvious solution is for the neighbors to become Orthodox in good standing and attend their local parish.

Anonymous said...

It was a specific condition of the planning permission just two years ago that there would be no bell ringing. This church is in a densely populated area and for many years the building had been a workshop. It stands cheek by jowl with the houses and has no garden or space around it.

It does seem rather provocative that at such an early stage of the life of this parish, there should be an application to vary the conditions of the planning permission.

Another very real problem in Oxford is that some Muslims want to cry the Adhan from their mosques and so far the City Council has refused. If they give in to the Russian Orthodox, they cannot refuse the Muslims. And in fact there is a large mosque being built in the near vicinity of this Moscow Patriarchate church.

There have also been reported problems with worshippers parking cars in the narrow streets causing serious inconvenience to local residents.

A Parish needs to be seen to be a good neighbour and to act with appropriate discretion, and I am troubled that this has not happened here.

Anonymous said...

The City Council did in fact grant permission on 1 February for the bells to be rung, on very strict conditions. It is clear that the Parish has a long way to go to reassure all local residents especially those living next to the church. The debate has certainly shown that the parish has no real relationship with the local community. Perhaps that's not unconnected to the fact that six years ago it split off from the main Orthodox community in Oxford who for the last 40 years have a purpose built church in the University quarter.

Deacon Down Under said...

Why did this parish split off from the "main Orthodox church" in Oxford? What jurisdiction were they?