POSTERS

Many of the posters below have been shown outside St Aidan's United Reformed Church, Hexham, at various times between January 2008, when Tony rather reluctantly took over the job of display board manager, and June 2010. Graphics and wording are original unless otherwise acknowledged.

This web page has developed into a joint effort between Tony and Chris Avis of Southernhay URC, Exeter, whom he thanks both for encouragement and for his own contributions. We shall continue to add posters as ideas strike us - watch this space!

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Tony would like also to thank Olive Ford and Sheila Dobbins at St Aidan's for assistance with these (and other) posters, and to members of our family, parts of whom appear in some of them.

Tony writes:
If you think you might make use of any of these, feel free to download them*. I'm doing this under the Copyleft protocol. You may download, copy and distribute them gratis but may not make any charge other than expenses e.g. postage or printing. Distributed copies must operate under the same protocol. I'd be grateful if you would acknowledge their source as St Aidan's URC, Hexham for mine and Southernhay URC, Exeter for Chris's.

*If you have problems downloading, or would prefer one or more in higher resolution (approx 918 x 1298) or as four A4 quarters making up an A2 poster, e-mail me at email address and I'll send as e-mail attachments.

Click on one of the small pictures below to see a bigger version and comments:


Chris Avis' posters

Answers Suspicious Good Question Prayer Welcome Many kinds of people Religion less of a theory, more of a love affair Wrapped up in themselves You are body, mind, spirit Scary
Answers Suspic- ious Good Question Prayer Welcome Many kinds Love affair Wrapped up You Scary
What is a Christian? Christian atheists Certainties and doubts Friends with death Knowledge and wisdom Beloving & believing God verb not noun some of you black and some of you gay Wesley's election advice Biblical literalism a fatally weak reed
What Atheists Certain- ties Death Wisdom Believ- ing God Black Gay Election Advice Religious Authority
myth of redemptive violence
Violence Myth

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My posters

Faith Hope Charity line between good and evil giving and receiving truth of a religion Richard Dawkins quotation The God you don't believe in The only true growth Religion, love and hate
Faith Hope Charity Line Receive Truth Exactly! Belief Peace & Justice Religion
Those who cannot forgive Home is the world No-one wins a war We laughed
Forgive World War Remem- brance

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Seasonal posters (mainly by Chris)

Christmas Eve service candle a lovely thing wrappings of Christmas Christmas is a state of mind Christmas, a hope for humanity Baby for life Holy Week 1 Holy Week 2 Holy Week 3 Holy Week 4 Holy Week 5
Christ - mas Eve Candle Christ- mas 1 Christ- mas 2 Christ- mas 3 Christ- mas 4 Holy Week1 Holy Week2 Holy Week3 Holy Week4 Holy Week5
Easter message Easter message 2 Easter message 3 Easter message 4 Pentecost
Easter Easter2 Easter3 Easter4 Pente- cost

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Answers - questions probe deeper than answers Chris Avis designed the colourful graphics and after some e-mail discussion we agreed on the 'punchline'.

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Suspicious of the answers? This is a version of the previous one with space that can either be left blank or filled with your own choice of 'answers' like "God is dead" or "There's no such thing as Society" or "Me! Me! Me!".

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Never surrender a qoood question My interpretation of this quotation by Mark Oakley is that most churches are very ready with answers (eg Alpha) and not prepared to 'live with the questions', the most important of which have no answers other than (unrecognized) human constructions. Chris Avis

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Prayer - heart better than words Chris Avis designed this one, quoting from a forthcoming booklet Thoughts and Prayers, currently being compiled by Free To Believe. This may prove a rich source for more posters!

Ghandi's idea cries out against our common overemphasis on words at the expense of insights and experience not expressible verbally. It appeals too for more spirituality, denied as illusion by some outside the churches and debased in facile emotionalism by some within.

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Welcome - is this the church for you? Most churches claim in all sincerity to offer a welcome to all, though sadly many are still constrained by the 'small print' exclusions of their current understandings of Christianity. While such churches obviously will not feel able to display this notice, I hope that those with a growing awareness of the gospel's message of unconditional love for all may find this poster a productive means of attracting at least the curiosity of those understandably suspicious and wary of the Christian faith.

Chris Avis

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God made so many different kinds of people - why would he allow only one way to serve him? (Martin Buber) World uncertainties and fears continue to grow, causing many members of most faiths to retreat even further into self-deluding havens of dogmatic and exclusive 'truth' . The wise words and irrefutable logic of Martin Buber's statement must be heeded now by all religions more than ever if they wish to remain relevant and life enhancing.

Chris Avis

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Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair (G K Chesterton). The unconditional love requirement at the heart of all the great faiths is often a major deterrent to full commitment and a strong temptation to more comfortable interpretations by many followers. To "love wastefully" (Bishop Jack Spong) runs counter to human nature, but is the only valid demonstration of a religious faith. Chris Avis

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There is no smaller package in the world than of someone all wrapped up in themselves (William Sloane Coffin Jr) Sadly, this statement can apply just as much to some religious practices as to people. Chris Avis

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You are body, mind, spirit. Recently I was sent a copy of a flier produced by Ian Gregory, who used to edit The Congregationalist and is now involved with PCN activity in the Newcastle area. Apparently they have distributed 5000 "to help counter an epidemic of depression!" and advertise local PCN meetings. Ian kindly gave his enthusiastic permission for me to plagiarise his central message from the flier and adapt it into a poster, with words of my own at the bottom. This one would perhaps be more appropriate in a church foyer than outside. Chris Avis

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I don't have a plan This phrase was spotted on an Australian church's website by my local minister who wondered if it might make a good poster. I used an i-phone image to display the message in order to make the display more eye-catching, especially for younger people (perhaps!). Chris Avis

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What is a Christian? The first two statements will come as no surprise to some and 'shock-horror' to others, who might well be in no doubt about the answer to the question posed, namely "A true believer, of course!" Really? Chris Avis

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Some of the best Christian are atheists The premise behind this (intentionally) startling statement is that the way we live matters far more than what we 'believe'. Is a lifetime of striving to give unconditional love ultimately condemned simply because it was lived by an atheist? Does possessing the 'right' creedal beliefs guarantee a happy ending for a Christian? If so, stuff Christianity! Chris Avis

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Certainty can imprison, doubt can liberate Liberal Christians usually see their more conservative cousins as being trapped by certainties, but progressive Christian theology can imprison also. Without built-in spaces for doubt, all humanly created religions eventually will die. Chris Avis

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When we make friends with death we are shown how to live How much of our precious time on this earth is spent with death-related issues, especially 'judgement' and what comes after (or not)? Often hindered rather than helped by religion, learning to live comfortably with our mortality is a long lesson, but always one worth the effort. Chris Avis

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To know that you do not know is the beginning of wisdom A reminder to all who claim to possess the ultimate truth of anything. Ideas within science and religion that were once derided as heresies are now the accepted norm. Facts are not necessarily final. Chris Avis

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Beloving beats believing every time This aphorism and the one below are allied with action: the importance of 'doing' Christianity rather than just espousing particular beliefs and creedal statements. Chris Avis

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God is not a noun to be defined but a verb to be lived This aphorism and the one above are allied with action: the importance of 'doing' Christianity rather than just espousing particular beliefs and creedal statements. Chris Avis

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I have made some of you black and some of you gay Another reminder for still too many that the human race is a rainbow entity. Chris Avis

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Advice for those who have votes in the coming election Too late for the 2015 election, but there will be others. Wesley gave this advice for the general election of 1774.

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Bibllical authority is a fatally weak reed on which to base a claim of religious authority No comment on this one - the text speaks for itself. Chris Avis

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The myth of redemptive violence... Walter Wink There is an urgent need for Walter Wink's stark statement because those in possession of the greatest power are still among those at the greatest distance from the Golden Rule. Chris Avis

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Faith is commitment against the odds not belief against the evidence Apologies for the anomaly: The old hymn begins My faith, it is an oaken staff.... I'm afraid we only had ash in the woodpile.

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Hope is not a desperate optimism, but a desire to work with that of God in everyone. I'm indebted to the Quakers for their unforgettable phrase "to search for that of God in everyone". I can't include everyone on the poster, but you will find symbols of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Paganism, Humanism and Buddhism.

I'm afraid the British Humanist Association logo is of rather poor quality; I e-mailed them to see if they could let me have an image at higher resolution but they didn't reply. If anyone can forward me one, I'd be grateful (about 600 pixels horizontal would be fine).

I'm happy to try to make the world a better place with anyone, whether they believe in the Virgin Birth or that the non-existence of God has been proved - as long as they don't insist that I believe either proposition.

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Charity is to treat others as they wish they would treat you...even when they don't. I designed this poster just before Holy Week in 2008, when the illustration was particularly apt. I've not yet thought of a picture suitable for other times of the year - or do I need to?

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The line between good and evil... Google and other search engines failed to provide a definitive source for this, so this is just a majority vote - or they had all copied each other!

I had to give some thought to the colours: black and white would rightly be seen as racist while red and blue could be deemed political, so I settled for base metal, or dross, and gold (and please don't quote The Merchant of Venice at me!).

Remember this one when you're inclined to be judgmental (that applies to me too).

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You wish to receive love, affection, compassion, tolerance? Give some...and you will! This is not an exact quote but in February 2008, Alison Moodie took the service at St Aidan's and made very clear to us how giving and receiving must be a two-way process.

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The truth of a religion lies not in how far its stories are verified history, but in what they inspire its followers to do. Logos here show the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, World ORT, Mercy Ships, Christian CND, Christian Aid and the Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council. All work in the secular world but their founders were motivated by their religion.

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If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than any theologian of any religion has ever proposed. (Richard Dawkins - atheist) Exactly! I found this quotation in the newsletter of Free to Believe, the 'open and progressive network' of the United Reformed Church. It was included in a sermon, broadcast by the BBC, by Revd Martin Camroux. The response "Exactly!" was his during the sermon, but he didn't feel his name needed to appear on the poster.

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Tell me about the God you don't believe in, and I probably don't believe in that God either. (Marcus Borg, theologian) This was also mentioned in the newsletter of Free to Believe, but I decided to do a little searching on the Internet too. I'm not sure whether I found the definitive version - I think the late Dr Borg used the quote on several occasions, with slightly different wording each time!

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The only true growth A logo based on 'peace growing from the roots of justice' was suggested by a group organizing a peace and justice service in Hexham Abbey, on 10th January 2012, and I designed it for the publicity and service material we used. Wondering if it might make a more general poster, I sent it to Chris, who added the caption and the watering can, so this is a genuine joint effort.

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The task of any religion is to teach us whom we're required to love, not whom we're entitled to hate (Rabbi Harold Kushner). I'm indebted to the Ekklesia e-zine for this quotation. Illustrated is an array, far from exhaustive, of people to whom at various times hate has been directed and even encouraged. Yes, including the man in the "flat 'at" - in England in Edwardian times (and even in the 1980s?).

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Those who cannot forgive become prisoners of other people's sins. This came from a wonderful book, referenced on the poster, which I thoroughly recommend. Publication details are: Axis of Peace: Christian faith in times of violence and war by S Wesley Ariarajah; WCC Publications 2004 ISBN 2-8254- 1394-1. I reviewed it when it first came out - see page 4 of Peacelinks April-May 2005. It appears to be available still.

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Charity begins at home? Yes.. but home is the world. I designed this in a state of some anger at the wave of populism sweeping the country in Summer 2013, particularly directed against foreign aid. When the photo was taken, from Apollo 8 by William Anders, on Christmas Eve 1968, it created a feeling of togetherness among people from all parts of the world, seeing ourselves as a unity. We need to reclaim that view.

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No-one wins a war, one side loses more, that's all. Not quite true, of course. Arms manufacturers, glory-hungry politicians and some parts of the media* do well enough - but the rest of humanity has to pay for their greed and vanity. We must make the Peace so just and equitable that people will not want War. That is the duty of all of us, which we'll need to remember in 2014 and even more so in 2018, when we may be swamped by waves of triumphalism and misplaced patriotism.
* see, for example, The First Casualty by Phillip Knightley.

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We laughed Laughing may not seem an obvious response to a First World War battle, but perhaps the whole poem makes things clearer:

The Next War

Out there, we've walked quite friendly up to Death,-
Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We've sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn't writhe.
He's spat at us with bullets and he's coughed
Shrapnel. We chorussed when he sang aloft,
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.

Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier's paid to kick against His powers.
We laughed, knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.

Wilfred Owen 1893-1918


Owen has been a paradoxical figure, both during his life and perhaps even more after his death. Even friends considered his early poetry mediocre and only when embroiled in the bloody business of fighting, and under the influence of Siegfried Sassoon, did he adopt the instantly recognizable directness and passion we see in his war poems. He was not a pacifist - in his sonnet ON SEEING A PIECE OF OUR HEAVY ARTILLERY BROUGHT INTO ACTION appear the lines Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm, And beat it down before its sins grow worse. But he hated the Great War and rejected its usual justification - in DULCE ET DECORUM EST he describes as 'the old lie' the dogma that 'it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country' . Yet he served with distinction, from his sense of duty to his men, even returning to the front after a severe bout of shell-shock.

Not immediately popular after the war, for perhaps obvious reasons and because little of his work had been published by then, he is now seen as one of the great war poets, by some as the greatest. Benjamin Britten used several poems in his War Requiem, which was my own introduction to Owen. When I read the verses Britten used, I still hear the music and the voices of Pears and Fischer-Dieskau.

Owen appeals, again paradoxically, to two groups of people especially:

* Those with pacifist or at least anti-militarist leanings see in his poems, graphically and shockingly described, horrors like those against which they are still fighting and protesting.

* As was made clear in a broadcast around Remembrance Day 2007, serving soldiers admire his work and see him as 'their' poet too. This is because Owen, from his own terrifying personal experience, 'told it as it was', with no sentimentality or jingoism.

Perhaps only those with a romantic view of war, who see anyone who dons a uniform as automatically a hero, will not take the message. Owen's view of the common soldier in WW1 was not as heroic by right but, as in ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH, primarily a victim.

In THE NEXT WAR, and particulary in the last lines, was he genuinely optimistic? ironic? cynical even? - certainly in STRANGE MEETING he talks about a future in which nations trek from progress.

We shall never know. Wilfred Owen died in action on 4th November 1918, just one week before the armistice. Our duty is to make his hopes, as expressed in this poster, come true.

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Christmas Eve service This isn't a 'message' poster, of course, but we have used it at St Aidan's, with appreciation. If your service starts at a different time, let me know and I'll e-mail an amended version!

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A Christmas candle is a lovely thing For me, a candle flame at Christmas says far more than moving stars, virgin births and deafening heavenly choruses. It symbolises the light within everyone, only made visible when we give ourselves away with unconditional love. The quotation encapsulates this idea beautifully. Chris Avis

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See through the wrappings... I am indebted to a quotation from E. B. White for the inspiration behind this poster: “To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year”, which I rephrased in a more positive way. The artwork content suggested itself rather loudly! Chris Avis

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See through the wrappings... Calvin Coolidge was the 30th USA President, elected in 1924. The full version of his shortened quote that I have used here reads "Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas." The aim of this poster is to emphasise the true heart of the Christmas message by quite deliberately omitting any of the seasonal Christian images which, though rightly treasured within our Christmas tradition, can also be misleading distractions. Chris Avis

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See through the wrappings... As with my previous Christmas posters, the aim here is to present an eye-catching Christmas message without churchy Christmas images and Nativity literalism. The predominant commercial aspects of Christmas are familiar to all, and here I have tried to juxtapose the 'real' essence of the season to good visual effect. Chris Avis

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This baby is for life - colour This baby is for life - monochrome The wording here was prompted by the familiar Christmas aphorism about pets given as Christmas presents. The tree symbol seemed a good way of representing the whole of 'life' compared to the sprig of holly as just a tiny part of a full tree. Chris Avis

(Chris felt the second poster would be clearer for monochrome use, but if you'd like a full-colour version send me an e-mail. T.C.)

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The first shall be last and the last shall be first The following five posters are designed to be displayed in sequence through Holy Week, starting on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Day. The story of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey can be seen as a deliberate political counter to the Roman processions of dominating power, recalling for me that telling phrase "The first shall be last..." This poster aims to portray the ultimate requirement of all those in worldly power (good and evil alike) to answer to the Prince of Peace. Chris Avis

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Perhaps Easter should be less about divinity and the afterlife and more about humanity and the present life Intended for display from the Mon to Weds of Holy Week (though equally useable over the whole Easter period), this poster makes a more general observation about Passiontide, so often centred by the churches on life after death (ours) enabled by belief in a blood sacrifice (Christ's), rather than living to the full the vital life we have now by venturing ever deeper into our humanity. Chris Avis

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Supper time - bread enough for all? Never pass over the needy Obviously relating to Maundy Thursday, this poster uses the food element of the 'Last Supper' imagery to highlight the desperate hunger of so much of our world and the continuing absence of sufficient distributive justice to satisfy it. Although the 'Passover' setting for this meal is historically debatable, I used the dreadful pun deliberately to emphasise the important strapline. Chris Avis

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As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being The bloody torment of Good Friday has been graphically depicted through the centuries, and many Christians believe that the more they can agonise over Christ's suffering, the more will their sins be forgiven. But for me, this Carl Jung quote sums up the whole life and death of Jesus, recalling as it does the words put on to his lips by the writer of John's gospel: "I am the light of the world". Easter demonstrates that the darkness of suffering can never extinguish the light. [My apologies for the heavy demand this will put on your black cartridge!] Chris Avis

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Now the green blade rises, love is come again	John Crum's lovely Easter hymn inspired this final poster, emphasising a rising rather than a resuscitation; a love which is ever being renewed and coming again.
These five Holy Week posters try to convey relevant Easter messages to passers-by without the use of 'theospeak' that many find bewildering and offputting.
I hope you belong to a church that will be happy to display at least some of them on future occasions. Chris Avis

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Easter's transforming message: Rise from spiritual death to life. This came out of a suggestion by Chris Avis, who pointed out that I hadn't done a poster for Easter. Some e-mail correspondence followed, from which this wording emerged. The butterfly is a symbol of Easter, with its rebirth to freedom from a seemingly dead chrysalis. Whatever may or may not have happened in gardens and upper rooms nearly 2000 years ago, the message of Easter is still potent for our spiritually moribund times.

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Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there. During e-mail correspondence with Chris Avis (see above), he sent me this quotation to consider. I couldn't conceive a poster using that wording at the time, so Chris has designed one instead. Very different in style from mine - excellent! - the more choice and variety the better!

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Easter is a sign of new beginnings renewed possibilities and raised hopes of a way of living
never defeated by death. By using a Roman instrument of torture and execution as its 'logo', I think the church promotes an unintended negative emphasis on death, rather than on the far greater importance of living life in all its fullness. My statement on this poster deliberately avoids traditional Easter church language like "resurrection", "atonement" and "sin", emphasising instead the ever continuing presence of life and hope in the midst of death, which is what my faith means to me. Chris Avis

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Easter, the eternal fresh start. This poster is designed to convey the heart of the Easter message, which does not require the constructions of any religion to empower it. When we fail, there are always chances to try again. Chris Avis

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Pentecost - One God, many voices Another eye-catching poster from Chris Avis!

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