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Live for peace billboards capture media attention

   
 


Billboards and posters similar to this one now being promoted to congregations to consider for Valentines day, showed up in 42 locations in Calgary from Nov. 23 through the Christmas season. To learn more about the Calgary campaign, visit www.liveforpeace.org

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January 8, 2010
-Deborah Froese

WINNIPEG, Manitoba— Six Calgary Mennonite churches countered the assault of consumer-driven ads over the 2009 holiday season with their Live for Peace campaign offering simple messages on billboards and C-Train posters. Slogans such as “Give your conscience a workout” and “Imagine life without war” caught the attention of CBC , CTV and CTS – a local Christian television outlet.

CBC Radio One repeatedly ran audio clips on their Sunday, Dec. 20 news casts and CTV ran a video on their Saturday, Dec. 19 evening news cast. The news clips can be accessed at www.liveforpeace.org.

The campaign rose as a response to the Peace in the Public Square initiative approved by Mennonite Church Canada delegates at the 2009 Assembly in Saskatoon.

Walter Wiebe, Moderator for Mennonite Church Alberta (MCA), said the Calgary campaign  had two primary purposes: to encourage MCA people to become more public about sharing their distinctive beliefs, and to make Calgarians aware that the Mennonite Church does exist in Calgary and to expose them to one unique facet of the beliefs of Mennonite Church Alberta.

The season approaching Christmas seemed like an appropriate time to launch the initiative. In an interview with CBC Radio One, campaign spokesperson and pastor of Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary, Doug Klassen, explained why. “Many Christmas cards say ‘peace on earth,’ …but what does it mean for there to be peace on earth? What role can I play in that? Maybe we befriend a neighbour who just doesn’t have anybody this time of year and we know they’re lonely. Maybe it’s restoring relationships in the home, spending more time together as a family, getting together with co-workers who don’t have places to go over the holidays.”

"In some ways we're selling a different way of living," Klassen offered in his interview with CTV. "I am hoping people can look at the world and see how we consume and how we live and how we treat each other in a different way… Rather than it just being a cliché, we wanted people to start thinking about what they could do to make peace in the world."

The ads – and the media coverage – directed people to Mennonite Church Canada’s liveforpeace.org website, which at the time of this writing had received an average of 60 unique visitors per day since the site was launched on Nov. 23. The website shares stories and information about non-violent peace building, as well as  links to the websites of the six sponsoring congregations – Calgary First MC, Trinity MC, Foothills MC, Calgary Chinese MC, and Bergthal MC.

Pattison Outdoor Advertising, who produced and erected the ads, extended the run of the C-train Posters through the Christmas holidays and into early January.