Episcopal churches in Glynn County will join Sunday in a national bell-ringing ceremony at 3 p.m. to commemorate the first landing of slaves on what was then British-occupied North America.
The National Park Service will also hold observances at all its sites as the bells are rung for “joy, sorrow, alarm and celebration … universal concepts in each of our lives,’’ the Park Service said in a release.
Fort Frederica National Monument will hold an observance in partnership with Christ Church, Site Manager Steve Theus said.
Father Tom Purdy said the observance at Christ Church will begin at 2:45 p.m. with some brief remarks and prayer.
“We’ll ask anyone who wants to ring the bell to form a line to take turns ringing the bell,’’ through the four minutes of the observance, he said.
The bell is rung by a rope extending to the belfry at the front doors of the church.
The largest celebration at a National Park will be at Fort Monroe National Monument where the park will join Hampton, Va., and others for a four day observance in addition to the bell-ringing. The first enslaved Africans arrived there in 1619 in what was then Point Comfort ushering in a period of slavery that ended only when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War.
Theus said that slaves likely worked on the grounds of Fort Frederica.
“It was a plantation at one point here,’’ he said.
Georgia’s founder, Gen. James Oglethorpe, banned slavery from the new colony in 1735, two years after he and a group of colonists landed in what was to become Savannah. That ban included the fortified town of Frederica, which Oglethorpe established in 1736, but a royal decree legalized slavery in Georgia in 1751.
The Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, invited all Episcopal churches to participate in what is being called a day of healing.
Each Church will ring their bells one minute for each of the four centuries that have passed since slavery began on what is now American soil.
Many Episcopal churches were active in the civil rights movement, which is commemorated in a stained glass at St. Athanasius Episcopal Church on Albany Street in Brunswick. The stained glass memorializes martyrs of the movement.
St. Athanasius will hold its own bell-ringing observance.
Terry E. Brown, superintendent of Fort Monroe, stressed that Sunday’s event will be somber.
“It is important to underscore the word commemoration because it can easily be confused with celebration. This is not a celebration,’’ he said.