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Trinity Church uses Twitter to tell Passion of Christ

Not everything people see on Twitter is gospel - but some of it is.

In an effort to spread its message in the world of social networking, Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church married microblogging and social networking with the Gospel Friday when it told the Passion of Christ, the story of the crucifixion, in posts of 140 characters or fewer.

From noon to 3 p.m., a church worker posted 18 tweets adapted from the Gospel of Mark. The story was largely told through the eyes of six characters: Jesus, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Peter, a serving girl and Pontius Pilate.

One tweet read, "ServingGirl: is so tired. Caiaphas and the priests have been up all night questioning a man who claims to be the Messiah. And I wait on them."

That was soon followed by one from Jesus: "Let the scriptures be fulfilled. It is as the prophets wrote. I am who you say I am."

"What we are trying to do at Trinity Wall Street is to communicate the story of Christ in as many ways as we can," said Linda Hanick, Trinity's vice president of communication and marketing.

While it may be new to Twitter, Trinity, founded in the 17th century, is not new to the Web. The parish near the World Trade Center site has been streaming events, services and concerts on the Internet since the late 1990s, and last year joined Facebook.

Twitter "was kind of the next evolution in communicating the Gospel message," Hanick said.

Twitter makes sense for congregations to spread their word, said the Rev. Charles Henderson, a Presbyterian minister and founder of the First Church of Cyberspace, GodWeb.org. Twitter has 10 million users, according to ComScore, an Internet market research firm.

Trinity's tweets are the first time Henderson has heard of the Passion Play on Twitter, "but it strikes me immediately as a great idea," Henderson said. "The distinguishing factor of Twitter is that it is instantaneous. And if you can reach out to your congregations, no matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu, this is exactly what you are trying to do, facilitate a community."

Two hours before the tweeting began, the Passion Play had roughly 100 followers. By the end, the number had grown to more than 1,700.

LeAnnThomas thanked the church "4 this beautiful version of the passion scriptures."

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