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Who is your virtual neighbour? Social networkers given guidance to stop, think and act for change this Lent

Saturday 2nd February 2008

This Lent, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, are calling for 'good neighbours' - online and offline - to try out daily suggestions to help create a safer and more pleasant environment in the real world.







The innovative campaign will use popular social networking websites and blogs to share actions to make the world a better place in small and simple ways. These range from leaving a thank-you note for your postie to going a whole day without gossiping.

Last year, more than 130,000 people joined in with Love Life Live Lent, launched by the Church of England to inspire, by text message, simple acts of service that spread happiness in our communities.

This year, daily suggestions are available not only through two colourful booklets produced by Church House Publishing, but also through social networking sites including Facebook, MySpaceand photo-sharing website Flickr. A group of prominent bloggers has also been enlisted to help spread the word through cyberspace. They include 'blogging bishop', the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, and Dave Walker, creator of the popular CartoonChurch website and blog.

Church leaders hope that the online social network group will help develop a community of 'Love Life Live Lenters' sharing their experience of following the daily suggestions. In return, Facebook will reward those completing three or more actions a week with the elements to 'build a neighbourhood' or 'grow a garden' on their profile.

The latest project is the Church of England's second initiative involving Facebook. Last Christmas, more than 2,500 users of the social networking site downloaded a special 'application' - sponsored by the Church of England - to send virtual Christmas cards to their friends.

There is also a Love Life Live Lent dedicated resource website, www.livelent.net, that features Bible study notes for adults, children's activities, and material for use in collective worship in schools, and a podcast available at www.chpublishing.co.uk featuring an interview with one of the original team behind the project, Canon Peter Howell-Jones, the Diocese of Birmingham's Director for Mission.

Most of the actions Love Life Live Lent can be performed individually, while others require a group working together. They include:

  • Spending a day trying to exist on just £1.40 – more than half the world's population have only that amount to spend each day
  • Cooking or eating cuisine you haven't tried before
  • Finding out about volunteering in a prison or supporting prisoners' families
  • Discovering the names of your closest neighbours.

The Archbishops are commending the campaign, acknowledging in their joint foreword to the booklets: "For most of us, life is busy and pressured. It can be difficult to take time out to be with family and friends or to help to make our communities, local or global, clean and secure places of generosity. But Jesus calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves."

The full colour pocket-sized booklet comes in two versions – one for adults and 'youth', and one for children – each packed with 50 suggested actions to encourage people to be good neighbours. The actions start next Sunday, 3rd February, and finish on Easter Sunday, 23rd March.

Love Life Live Lent started life in the Diocese of Birmingham in 2006, inspired by a local pilgrimage. The booklet was such a hit that the original print run had to be increased repeatedly, and 70,000 copies were distributed through churches, schools and community centres.

Love Life Live Lent is available as a full-colour booklet for just £1 (adult & youth version ISBN 0978 07151 4143 4, children's version 0978 07151 4147 2) or buy 10 for £8 (adult & youth version 0978 07151 4148 9, children's version 0978 07151 4150 2), or a value pack of 50 for £35 (adult & youth version 0978 07151 4149 6, children's version 0978 07151 4151 9) from Christian bookshops or by mail order via www.livelent.net.

Notes

The links below take you to the relevant section of each social networking site:

www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2242474934

www.myspace.com/lovelifelivelent

www.flickr.com/groups/lovelifelivelent/

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