ARCHBISHOP Designate Justin Wellby is joining senior clergy to ‘tweet’ his Christmas day sermon for the first time this year.

The outgoing Bishop of Durham is turning to the social networking site, Twitter, so his message reaches as many people as possible.

He will be joined by the country’s senior bishops from across the Church of England, including current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in a Christmas Tweet campaign and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

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The Right Reverend Justin Welby said: "I fully support this campaign and encourage others across the church to do the same.

“My Christmas Day sermon will be tweeted in a series of snippets, and I hope to be tweeting during the rest of the Christmas period."

Tweets can be expected from carol, crib and midnight services, before carrying on into Christmas morning when the highlights of the sermons at Canterbury Cathedral, York Minster and Durham Cathedral will be tweeted.

The bishop added: “The Church of England provides a Christian presence in every community and we are most used to this meaning physical communities, increasingly that means online communities as well.

“I think this a fantastic opportunity to engage with existing and new communities in a way that is growing in significance and I very excited about being able to reach out to people that might not be able to get to a church and to celebrate the joy and meaning of Christmas with them."

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, churchgoers in the 16,000 parishes of the Church of England are being encouraged to live tweet the joy and meaning of Christmas to the ten million UK Twitter users.

A Twitter spokesperson said: “Twitter brings you closer to the things you are passionate about and for millions of people across the globe that is faith.

“It is fantastic to see the Church of England embracing Twitter and using it to share their Christmas message with new audiences.”

The campaign will use the hash tag ChristmasStartsWithChrist, which goes live on Christmas Eve.

Rev Arun Arora, director of communications at the Archbishops Council, said: “It is the first time that the joy and excitement of Christmas will have been broadcast widely on Twitter.”