Holy Smoke

A church in Maryland is crediting a controversial ad campaign from The Richards Group in Dallas with building its congregation.
The work has also drawn some not-so-unexpected criticism from religious circles.
The ads for the Episcopal New Church Center in Walkersville, Md., were aimed at Gen-X-ers turned off by some perceptions of organized religion, according to the shop. After debuting some of the hard-hitting posters (with lines like “Those pews make my butt hurt”), the church reported membership had grown to 100 members three months after its opening.
The campaign also drew eight formal protests because of its nontraditional approach.
A depiction of Jesus Christ with copy reading, “Of course, people with pierced body parts are welcome in church,” was one that Richards expected would offend, according to copywriter Ron Henderson. “But our client isn’t after ‘dead wood,’ ” he said. “He’s more concerned with those who possess a nonchurch attitude.”
Henderson noted that the church has also received more than 50 phone calls praising the work. –Glen Fest