During the season of Advent, television commercials usually advertise Coke, new cars, and the latest gift ideas and where to buy them. You don't often see advertisements for church, though, so the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas, is changing that this Christmas season.
The Cathedral of Hope is airing three TV ads that extend an extravagant welcome to all people in the Dallas region, inviting them to worship during the holidays.
"We're making a special effort this Advent season to reach as many people as we can in the Dallas-Fort Worth community with a special invitation to join us at Cathedral of Hope for our best Christmas ever," said the Rev. Jim Mituski, interim senior minister of Cathedral of Hope.
Each of the spots is 30 seconds long, with one in Spanish to promote the multicultural celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 11. The 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' ad aired on Galavision — a Spanish television network — while the two other commercials for Cathedral of Hope appear on Lifetime and Logo TV, a network with programming aimed at LGBT people.
"These television spots are targeted to a general audience who speak both Spanish and English and who might not know about Cathedral of Hope," Mituski said. "We strive to be a church who welcomes all, no matter who you are or where you are on life's journey — you are welcome at Cathedral of Hope. To make sure people know about this invitation, we need to meet them where they're at — and that means we must be on television."
So far, the ads are producing results. There were 460 people in attendance, which is twice the number of people compared to last year, on Thursday night for the Lady of Guadalupe service — half of whom were Latino.
"We are so grateful for all those who came to our service on a cold night," the Rev. Alberto Magana, pastor of Congregación Latina, which is part of Cathedral of Hope and performs worship services in Spanish. "We praise God and give [God] the credit. We saw all [God's] people gather in a spirit of unity and purpose -- Latino, Anglo, gay, straight, male, female, young, old in one family — even as we hail from diverse backgrounds."
Jerry King, Cathedral of Hope's director of television and media ministries, said this is the first time the church worked to produce its own television advertisements.
"We decided to try something new with advertising this year," said King. "We've not had the opportunity to promote the growing part of congregation -- the Latino members. Our Lady of Guadalupe has always been a large cross-cultural and multi-cultural celebration."
The congregation previously aired its worship services on a local ABC affiliate until three years ago, but selecting the networks for its commercials offers a larger viewership.
King and the Cathedral's television department filmed their own footage for each of the spots, and edited them down to 30 seconds each – all within a 48-hour window, which is a short window to turn around one 30-second commercial, let alone three.
The commercials, which Cathedral of Hope posted online, began airing Monday, Dec. 9. In the upcoming weeks the congregation hopes to learn how the other messages were received as they are ready to welcome new faces at worship services during the Advent season.