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Archbishops tweet Christmas sermons

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York tweeted their sermons for the first time to "bring the meaning of Christmas to a new digital audience".

Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu - with the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby - delivered their Christmas Day messages simultaneously from their pulpits and over the micro-blogging site.

Their words were "live tweeted" to the UK's 10 million Twitter users as part of a campaign to reach out to social networkers across the country.

The Church of England asked members in its 16,000 parishes to join in by tweeting snippets from services containing the hashtag #ChristmasStartsWithChrist to spread the Christian message.

The Rev Arun Arora, director of communications at the Archbishops' Council, said: "This is a brilliant opportunity for parishes to take the good news of the first Christmas out of churches and into people's lives and homes.

"It is the first time that the joy and excitement of Christmas will have been broadcast widely on Twitter. There are large numbers of social media enthusiasts to be found in pews and pulpits across the country. This is an invitation for them to join together to celebrate the joy of the Christ Child coming into the world, taking the real meaning of Christmas to a new digital audience."

Tweets were fed out from carol, crib and midnight services on Christmas Eve as churches from all denominations were encouraged to broadcast their messages online. A Twitter spokesman said: "It is fantastic to see the Church of England embracing Twitter and using it to share their Christmas message with new audiences."

Dr Williams has previously branded the site a potentially "poisonous" and destructive tool. But he has also spoken of its power when used to do good.

The outgoing Archbishop - who does not own a mobile phone and admits he struggles with "any kind" of technology - addressed the issue earlier this month when he said it was often assumed that clergy were "too unworldly" for social media. But he insisted not all clergy should be assumed to be as "dim" as he is in this area.

Twitter users could track the sermons at Canterbury Cathedral, Durham Cathedral and York Minster by following Dr Williams (@lambethpalace), Dr Sentamu (@johnsentamu) and the Archbishop Designate, Bishop Welby (@bishopofdurham), who already has nearly 15,000 followers.

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