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All tweeted on the ground

14 December 2012


Tablet talk: the Pope presses a button on Wednesday to launch his Twitter account. Comment, page 12

Tablet talk: the Pope presses a button on Wednesday to launch his Twitter account. Comment, page 12

THE Archbishop of Canterbury will tweet a version of his Christmas Day sermon for the first time ever this year, broadcasting to the ten million people who use the social-media site that "Christmas starts with Christ."

He will be joined by his successor- designate, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, and, it is hoped, thousands of other clergy and congregations.

The Christmas Tweet campaign, devised by Church House, Westminster, urges people to condense the content of Christmas sermons into messages of 140 characters ending with the hashtag #ChristmasStartsWithChrist. If enough people use the hashtag, it will "trend" - appearing to millions of users of the site. Last year, #Christmas was the sixth biggest trend, behind the pop stars Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and the Jonas Brothers, football, and the National Basketball Association.

"This is a brilliant opportunity for parishes to take the good news of the first Christmas out of churches and into people's lives and homes," said the Director of Communications for the Archbishops' Council, the Revd Arun Arora. "There are large numbers of social-media enthusiasts to be found in pews and pulpits across the country. This is an invitation for them to join together to celebrate the joy of the Christ child coming into the world, taking the real meaning of Christmas to a new digital audience."

The Vicar of St Francis's, Luton, the Revd James Ogley, said on Tuesday that there was "something of an art" to condensing the content of a sermon into messages of 140 characters.

"You get the sound-bites, which, in a sense, is appropriate for the medium," he said. "We live in a sound-bite society to an extent, and Twitter feeds into that, or feeds off it, more accurately. So you get little nuggets. You may miss the two minutes of exegesis that got to the point, but you get the point." He is planning to draft the key points of his sermon into tweets that his wife can send out during the sermon.

"I hope it might lead to a greater appreciation of the significance of the season," he said. "Even if the hashtag is all that people see in their timeline, that is most important thing. . . It's about the big picture of Christmas and Christ."

Comment: The Pope on Twitter

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