Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thinking encouraged in Canadian churches too

Thinking encouraged, diversity welcomed...that is the language on liberalchurch's logo.

Now, the United Church of Canada is launching an advertising campaign to get Canadian citizens thinking about church too. Along with that is a website where they can then go for a discussion lounge to talk about what they are thinking.

Read this article from the Canadian t.v. website.
A new $10.5 million advertising campaign is being launched by The United Church of Canada in an attempt to spark debate about hot button religious issues like gay marriage and sexual boundaries.

One of the advertisements shows a wedding cake with two groom figurines and asks the question: "Does anyone object?" Another advertisement shows a whipped cream bottle in the fridge along with the question: "How much fun can sex be before it's a sin?"
A third advertisement shows a child at a mall sitting on Jesus' lap instead of Santa Claus with the question: "Would you still take your kids? After all, isn't Christmas supposed to be about Him, not the guy in the red suit? Or can it be about both?"
The project is the largest campaign ever for the church and will include advertisements in magazines, community newspapers and on the Internet.
A website,, has been launched where all of the print advertisements can be viewed. The website also has a discussion lounge where the controversial topics can be discussed.
"We hope is that it will be much more than a website, we hope that it will be a gathering place for people with their faith questions -- the big questions of life as well as the small ones," Right Rev. David Giuliano, moderator of the United Church of Canada, told reporters in Toronto on Monday.
Ad guru Malcolm Roberts, who developed the ad campaign for the United Church, said he wanted people to recognize that the church encourages open, honest dialogue.
"We wanted people to recognize (United Church members) do have humour, they can laugh at themselves," Roberts, the creative director for ad firm Smith Roberts & Co., told CTV Newsnet on Tuesday.
"People can ask them questions about moral, spiritual issues, whatever is on their mind."
While the church is still the largest Protestant denomination in the country, membership has been on the decline with current numbers at about 573,000.
"We are trying to increase the visibility and awareness of The United Church of Canada," Reverend Keith Howard, who is heading the three-year project called Emerging Spirit, told The Globe and Mail.
"We have become aware that particularly for people in the 30- to 45-age group, many of them do not even know that the United Church exists, much less what we stand for."
Howard told The Globe that the church spent more than a year researching why people, specifically in the 30- to 45-age group, have become so turned off by organized religion.
The research found many people view followers of established churches as judgmental, arrogant and unwilling to listen.
"The United Church of Canada must establish its own unique positioning, promote its own values and help people break damaging stereotypes of organized religion," researchers hired by the church stated in a recent report.
As a result, the church is planning seminars to help teach its 3,500 congregations how to welcome newcomers in a more endearing way.
The campaign objective is not to convert people to Christianity but to evoke existing Christians to talk about ethical and religious questions, said Howard.
The website says the campaign was set up "because at The United Church of Canada, we love open-minded discussion on issues that matter to you. And because we believe that it's important to have a place at which you can explore your spirituality and life's big questions on your own terms."
Some of those big questions include, "Why get married, given the low success rate?" and "Does God hate me because I am gay?"
The website also has a "Church Search" feature where visitors can locate a United Church in their area.
The campaign garnered full support of the church's general council meeting last August despite some who said the money could be better spent elsewhere, The Globe reported.
"It was a tough decision for the church because we know we live in a world in need and the United Church has always had a strong commitment to justice and social issues," Howard told The Globe.
"I think, though, in the end the church sees this as an investment in our being able to equip a church that will be able to continue and grow in that kind of work."


Be sure to go to the CTV website, to see the actual advertisements, click here.

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