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United Methodist billboard ‘gift’ kicks off holiday season

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Courtesy of Igniting Ministry

"The Gift" television ads will be shown on the 30-by-40-foot screen at Times Square during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Nov. 14, 2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — The United Methodist Church is kicking off its holiday advertising campaign with a giant billboard screen above New York City’s Times Square.

“The Gift,” a message about sharing one’s gifts with others, is expected to reach an estimated 2 million people flowing daily through Times Square. The 30-second spots will be shown on the 30-by-40-foot screen eight times a day for a two-week period, including during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

“The holiday season is a time when many people are feeling alone or are perhaps seeking some deeper meaning and purpose in their lives,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “One of the gifts that the United Methodist Church has to offer is the sureness of hope that we are neither abandoned by God or by the faith community. Our doors are open for anyone who is seeking a deeper understanding of their place in the world to come and participate in that search in relationship with others.”

In addition to advertising on one of the world’s most famous outdoor video screens this holiday season, the denomination will air two television commercials on 18 cable networks Dec. 5 through Christmas Eve. The second spot, titled, “I Believe,” is about how the church embraces diversity.

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The Rev. Larry Hollon
This year’s $1.8 million Christmas season campaign will be the longest, most in-depth ever, according to Stephen Drachler, director of public information at United Methodist Communications.

The ads are part of the United Methodist Church’s media campaign, “Open hearts. Open doors. Open minds. The People of The United Methodist Church” Now in its fifth year, the campaign uses television, radio, movie theaters, outdoor advertising, and direct mail to share messages of love and hope with people seeking a spiritual home. The goal is to invite people, particularly those between 25 and 54 years old, to enter into connection with the Christian community as they seek meaning and purpose in their lives.

United Methodist Communications, based in Nashville, launched the effort in 2001 to raise awareness of the denomination through a series of national cable television commercials. The campaign also includes radio spots and non-broadcast ads, matching grants, training resources and a Web presence. The 2004 General Conference, the church’s top legislative body, approved another $25 million for the program and renewed it for four more years.

The United Methodist Church has nearly 11 million members in the United States, Africa, Asia and Europe.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

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"The Gift"

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