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Commercial offers message of hope, comfort

3/19/2003 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - As the world waits for war in Iraq, the United Methodist Church is prepared to launch a new cable television advertising campaign offering a message of hope, healing and comfort.

"In times of conflict and fear, we have one constant - the presence of a God who is available to every person no matter where they live in the world," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top staff executive of United Methodist Communications, in announcing the denomination's advertising plans.

"As this war is waged in Iraq and in the hearts and minds of people throughout the world, the people of the United Methodist Church will offer messages to those seeking resolution, healing, and comfort," Hollon said.

The 30-second United Methodist commercial opens with a spinning roll of duct tape on screen and, as the roll comes to a rest, with the following voiceover:

"Two months ago, it was just duct tape. And someday, hopefully, soon,
it will just be duct tape again. Along with the world, the people of the
United Methodist Church are praying - for understanding, for healing,
for peace. May God bless us all during this time"

The message is expected to air on CNN, FOX News, CNN Headline News and MSNBC. Hollon said the commercial is projected to begin airing Friday night, March 21, or Saturday morning, March 22, or when the cable networks resume commercial breaks after continuous war coverage.

President George Bush has set a deadline of 8 p.m. Eastern time, March 19, for dictator Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face a U.S.-led invasion.

The wartime commercial comes as the denomination prepares to begin its regularly scheduled national Lenten advertising campaign. The advertising effort is part of the church's national Igniting Ministry program, a four-year, $20 million campaign that has been viewed by more than 65 million U.S. television viewers.

Hollon said the decision to move forward with the commercial mirrors the approach the church took to communicating with the nation and the world following the 9-11 tragedies in 2001.

"Our commercials after 9-11 offered a voice of prayer, comfort and reassurance to a hurting nation," Hollon said. "They were a catalyst for healing. More than ever, the church can be a catalyst for peace and healing in the world today."

Depending upon circumstances, Hollon said additional commercials may be developed and aired during the remainder of the Lenten season. Lent ends April 19, the day before Easter Sunday.

When the commercial begins airing, it will be available to the news media on the denomination's Web site, www.umc.org. Downloadable images from the commercial will be available at www.IgnitingMinistry.org.

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