'City of Churches' needs bell ringers

'City of Churches' needs bell ringers

Adelaide's churches are one of its tourism draws: They need to make some noise on Sundays
Adelaide
St. Francis Xavier Cathedral -- one of many in the South Australian capital.

Just about every visitor to Australia knows that Sydney has its beaches, Melbourne its laneways and on just about every corner in Adelaide there’s a church or cathedral.

Adelaide, of course, is the city that was built without convicts.

Free settlers came to Adelaide in an era of idealism, where religious freedom and tolerance held sway.

So much so, original plans for Adelaide included so many cathedrals that they forgot to make room for jails. One was soon built when the need became apparent.

Beautiful churches and cathedrals, but where are the congregations?

There are 43 bells that ring through the “City of Churches.” Problem is, there are only 20 people who ring them.

“Every Sunday, we have to do a circuit of all the churches just to get the bells rung,” Matthew Sorrel of Adelaide bell ringers told ABC.

Religion’s become a little less cool in Adelaide. A quarter of the city's 1.1 million residents express no religious affiliation at all, according to a census conducted in 2006. Around 16 percent of Aussies are Christians who regularly attend services.

Does that face ring a bell?

But folk still like to roll up to a church or cathedral to get married. And they still enjoy the romance of those bells ringing through the streets of Adelaide.

So the bell ringers are on a mission. They want to more than triple their numbers and have 70 bell ringers within a few years. They’re currently recruiting youths to take the bells into the next generation.

Saskia Noorduijin told ABC: “If you like making noise, it’s perfect.”

For a list of notable churches and cathedrals to tour in Adelaide, check here

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