Frank Field, minister for welfare reform, joined ringers at St Mary Abbots Church in Kensington, west London, for a bell-ringing lesson to kick off the campaign. Many church bells are rung regularly, there are more than 1,000 churches in the UK which have no bell-ringers.
The initiative, entitled Celebration 2000, wants the millennium to be marked by the pealing of church bells in every church in the country at noon for five minutes on 1 January 2000 as part of a 15-minute service of prayer and dedication.
Celebration 2000, which aims to celebrate the religious and spiritual dimensions of the millennium, was set up by the Open Churches Trust and has the support of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.
The Open Churches Trust was founded three years ago by Lord Lloyd Webber to promote the opening of Grade I-listed churches which are locked between services due to burglary, arson and vandalism.
Leading article, page 15
Airship's Kaiser bell fails to toll
This bell from the bridge of a downed First World War Zeppelin went on sale at an antiques auction yesterday, but failed to reach its reserve price.
The 6in high silver plated Kaiser bell was put up for auction by the grandson of George Bloy, the Grimsby scrap metal merchant awarded salvage rights to the wrecked airship which crashed in the Humber 80 years ago. Auctioneers, Dickinson Davy & Markham, of Brigg, Humberside, had hoped the bell would fetch more than pounds 1,000.