ATHEISTS might have got the buses, but Christians are being urged to take over bus stops in the run-up to Christmas.

The plan has been hatched by ChurchAds.net, previously the Church Advertising Network, as part of its campaign under the slogan: “Christmas starts with Christ”.

The group is encouraging con­gregations to pay £105 to display a poster on a bus shelter of their choice. Then, on 22 December, the group suggests hosting a carol-singing session at the stop. With enough backing, it says, the occasion might be “the country’s largest-ever carol-singing event”.

Is this something your church or group could consider?

The poster is a painting by Andrew Gadd of the Holy Family in a modern-day version of the stable, a bus shelter. It was launched two years ago, and was used widely last year. Since then, British humanists have carried out a “There’s probably no God” poster campaign on the sides of buses.

The Christmas posters will be complemented by a selection of four radio commercials, which groups of churches can sponsor jointly for broadcast on local radio.

David Marshall, communications officer for the diocese of Man­chester, is promoting the campaign. He said that the goal was to get the poster on 2000 bus shelters, together with 2500 airings for the radio com­mercials.

Theos, a Christian research organisation said, “only 12 per cent of adults have knowledge of the facts of the Christmas story in detail; so hopefully this retelling of the nati­vity story will communicate the Christmas message.”

ChurchAds.net is an ecumenical network, supported by the Jeru­salem Trust, which uses profes­sionals from the advertising and communications industries.

IN addition, Eccle­s­ia­stical Insurance has linked up with ChurchAds.net to launch a national competition for the best new Christmas carol.

The competition is in response to a negative view of carol-singing, suggested by a YouGov poll com­mis­sioned by Ecclesiastical. Although 41 per cent said that they wanted the tradition of door-to-door carolling to continue, 22 per cent said they wanted it to stop.

Only two per cent said that they planned to go from door to door this Christmas, although a further 17 per cent said that they would take part in some form of carol-singing at a ser­vice or concert.

For the new competition, the carol should be in any musical style, but not last longer than four minutes. The winner will receive a £1000 prize and have the carol performed on his or her doorstep.

More information at www.ChurchAds.net

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