First national ads for Church

To prove that Easter means more than chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and bunny rabbits, the Church of England is launching its first national advertising campaign.

Roadside hoardings, bus stops and church noticeboards, as well as radio ads, will be used for a campaign, which breaks in April and focuses on the Resurrection.

The posters will carry the words “`Surprise!’ said Jesus to his friends three days after they buried him… to be continued in a church near you this Easter”.

The campaign aims to generate interest among people outside the Church rather than committed Christians. It is co-ordinated by the Churches’ Advertising Network (CAN), a group of Christians from all denominations who are seeking to develop the professional use of advertising for the Church. CAN aims to get free or low-cost poster space and radio airtime from media owners.

“This campaign will not please everyone. For some it’s not `churchy’ enough, and some Christians may feel uncomfortable with its brash image,” CAN spokesman the Reverend Robert Ellis says.

“The Church is on a steep learning curve about advertising and our energy at the moment seems to be equally divided between convincing the Church and actually doing the job that needs to be done,” Ellis says.

CAN intends to move on to advertising that deals with issues. A forthcoming campaign on the National Lottery is planned, though insiders say the Church is still deciding its position on the game.

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