Cora Moody plays the organ and carillon at Windham Hill U.C.C. Courtesy of Philip Moody

WINDHAM — When the Windham Hill United Church of Christ was forced to temporarily close in mid-March due to COVID-19, Pastor Sally Colegrove wanted find a way to bring comfort to the community.

“We wanted to let our neighbors and friends know that we want to continue to be a voice of hope here in the community even though we can’t have worship services in the church at the moment,” Colegrove said.

Congregants Claire Olson-Crocker, Cora Moody and Laurel Parker have been performing daily 30-minute concerts on the carillon, the church bells, every day since March 16.

Moody said that Windham Hill has always been like the community’s church, even for those who don’t attend.

“(It’s) the little white church on the hill,” she said.

Moody has been a member of the church since the 1960s and has been playing the carillon there for “forever.” She was also the organist for over 20 years.

She will typically only play the carillon or organ for special occasions like Christmas, but with the pandemic, she volunteered to play the carillon twice a week.

The Windham U.C.C. is closed for in-person services but is ringing the carillon bells daily. Courtesy Philip Moody

“It’s kind of a reassurance or comfort to the people in the neighborhood who can hear it, especially in this time of turmoil,” Moody said.

“You feel so helpless… it’s so small and it’s really nothing (but) if it’s a nice distraction from monotony, I hope that it is really helpful for them,” said Olson-Crocker, who has been a member of the church for about 25 years.

Tammy Mingo Mulholland posted a video of the bells ringing to the Windham community Facebook page. She wrote, “Windham Hill UCC gave me a beautiful surprise on my walk today.”

Kim Carignan, a real estate broker in Windham, responded, “I love the sound of church bells … We need more of this.”

The carillon bells were a gift to Windham Hill U.C.C. in 1964 from Edith Bell, who donated them in honor of her late husband, Fred, said Parker.

Parker has been attending the church for about 27 years and playing the carillon for the last two, but said she’s “never heard the carillon played as much as during this pandemic.”

“It’s a good thing. It’s healing,” Parker added.

“It’s a wonderful gift (the church was) given and it’s nice to be shared,” said Moody.

Colegrove will sometimes stand outside the church during the daily concerts and wave to people walking by. She’s encouraged people to park their cars in the driveway if they don’t live within listening distance.

The players said that they like to play a mix of hymns and other music. Parker, for instance, plays lullabies from old songbooks during her Saturday morning slot.

Leading up to Easter, Moody “played a lot of Jesus Christ Superstar,” the 1970 rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Although the congregation has switched over to virtual services, Colegrove said that “we still are trying to send out a little bit of joy into the community.”

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