These Vermonters Came Together To Help Their Neighbors During The Pandemic. But When Can They Stop?

At the United Church of Thetford, congregation members are not ready to give up their practice of ringing the church bells every evening, something they started doing during the pandemic. For many, it just feels too soon. (Elodie Reed/VPR)

When Erika Hoffman-Kiess first heard about people applauding for frontline workers in big cities, she didn’t think that would work so well in her town of Thetford, Vt.

“There are some places in Vermont where you can go outside your door and bang a pot and pan and nothing’s going to happen because nobody hears you,” she said. “But we do have a lot of churches.”

And those churches have bells.

At the height of the pandemic last year, bells rang out from five churches and school buildings in Thetford every evening at 7 p.m., including where Hoffman-Kiess worships — the United Church of Thetford.

“It seemed like a way to just let people know that we were thinking about them, and that we were thanking them,” she said.

While the evening bells at other churches stopped ringing months ago — at the end of last summer or, at one church, when the rope for the bell broke — the group at the United Church of Thetford has kept at it.

Every night for over a year, someone from the congregation has climbed the narrow staircase at the front of the church to ring the structure’s 150-year-old bell.

Click here for the full story from Vermont Public Radio.