McDonough mayor urges churches to ring bells Friday
by Jeff Martin, Associated Press
December 19, 2012 12:45 PM | 670 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The city of Canton is joining with other cities around the state requesting that churches ring their bells 26 times Friday at 9:30 a.m., to be followed by a moment of prayerful reflection in memory of the 26 adults and children who lost their lives during the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last week.

Mayor Gene Hobgood said he is joining with other mayors across the state to participate in the plan to honor the victims in Newtown.

Authorities say 20-year-old Adam Lanza blasted his way into Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday in Newtown and gunned down 26 people, including 20 children. He also killed his mother before the school attack, and later killed himself.

The request in Georgia originated from the mayor of McDonough and the Georgia Municipal Association sent out an email asking if other cities would encourage churches to participate.

McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland said Wednesday that the idea appears to be gaining interest across Georgia, partly because the GMA sent an email to its members urging them to consider it.

The mayor's assistant, Leslie Balog, suggested the idea after recalling how church bells in Henry County rang shortly after a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, Copeland said.

After Balog suggested the idea, the mayor called several community leaders in town.

“Nobody hesitated,” Copeland said. “All of us here grieve.”

“The sentiment is so strong for us to move forward with this,” he added.

Workers also hope to ring the clock tower of the 1899 Henry County Courthouse on the town square in McDonough, Copeland said.

In Athens, students will ring the University of Georgia Chapel bell 26 times at 9:30 a.m. Friday in memory of the lost lives, the university announced Wednesday.

In the northwest Georgia city of Rome, Mayor Evie McNiece is encouraging churches there to ring their bells. In metro Atlanta, Lilburn officials made a similar request.

Copeland expects that other Georgia communities will participate, especially since the state's municipal association helped spread the word.

“We just made them aware of what Mayor Copeland was doing and passed along his request that every city consider taking a similar action,” said Bill Thornton, deputy executive director of the Georgia Municipal Association.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has proclaimed Friday a day of mourning. He's asking churches and places of worship in Connecticut to ring bells 26 times at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Some churches outside Connecticut and Georgia have also announced plans to ring their bells Friday morning.

In Port Huron, Mich., Grace Episcopal Church will ring its bells 26 times Friday morning, church Sexton Larry McNamara told the Times-Herald in Port Huron.

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