NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The sounds of hope and inspiration will ring out across the city on Easter Sunday.

Several houses of worship in New Brunswick will be taking part in a special bell-ringing event at noon.

The event, organized by Mayor Jim Cahill and his staff, comes not only at a time when many residents will be observing the holiest day of the Christian calendar, but when the world finds itself in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Because exercising social distancing is the best way to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, congregations have not been able to join together for services. Many religious leaders here and beyond have looked to technology – streaming services, teleconferencing technology, etc. - to reach their members.

If the pews cannot be filled with parishioners, at least the skies can be filled with song for one minute starting at 12 p.m.

Cahill said in an interview on WCTC 1450-AM that the event was organized “to let people know they are there for us and to let people know we are in their prayers, not only as a community but the world at large.”

It’s also a way to sound a song of gratitude to the men and women who have been on the front lines of the war against COVID-19.

Rev. Nancy Nardi, pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church on Somerset Street – just down the block from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – is hoping that the health care heroes there and at Saint Peter’s University Hospital will be able to hear the bells as they go about tending to their patients.

“There's a bunch of little churches like ours all along that strip and I think to be able to ring those bells out and let those workers hear that as a reminder that we are thinking about them, that we're praying about them and we're trying to support them in, really, any way that we possibly can because they're really putting their lives out for us,” she said. “They have got a gift. They've got a gift of care and a gift of healing and they're putting their lives out there.”

Sunday’s event is especially emotional for Nardi, whose sister in law is working overtime shifts at Hackensack University Medical Center.

“So, we hear about it,” she said. “Anything we can do, if that's something we can do in town to ring those bells and just let that ring out clear as a sign to them that we are behind them.”