Russell Priest launches quirky videos to pull in parishioners
An actor turned priest has come up with a unique way to attract attention to his tiny church in Russell, Ontario. Reverend Lee Lambert has taken to social media to put the fear of God into people this Halloween period, in a fun way.
This motorcycle ridin', leather wearin' priest isn't your typical man of the cloth. In fact, his first calling was to the stage, not the altar.
Lambert played a soldier in the 1990 movie Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. It was largely shot in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park. After dabbling in acting, Lee Lambert became Reverend Lambert in 2001 and took over the services at St. Mary's Anglican Church in Russell 7 years ago.
“The acting comes into it,” explains Lambert, “You have to engage people, interest them.”
This 140 year old church plays prominently in Lambert's latest production on YouTube. It’s a clever twist on your typical horror movie, just in time for Hallowe'en.
“I wanted to snap people around,” he says, “They believe they're watching one thing, a trailer for a horror movie and it turns out to be ad for our church.”
It’s an unusual approach in tough times as numbers dwindle in all denominations.
Lambert has taken to social media to try to connect with people, particularly that younger crowd that is more focused on phones than faith.
“They are very short videos that they might go, “Hey, that's cool, wonder where that is?” St Mary's Anglican in Russell. So maybe they'll show up.Some of this is breaking down feelings that people might have about church that it's boring, judgmental, staid and old-fashioned.”
“I like they're not your classic, come to church kind of thing,” says Charlotte Brooks, a parishioner who runs the Clothing Cupboard in town that offers used clothes to people in need, an outreach program of the church, “It’s offbeat, a sense of humor that other people can connect with.”
And connect they have. When Glen and Connie Woodcock were "church shopping" (and yes, that is a term), they settled on St. Mary's in part because of Lambert's quirky approach.
“I don't think there's anything wrong with humor in church, nothing at all,” says Gary.
“Why you can't have fun and be spiritual at the same time, I don’t' know,” adds his wife Connie, “We have fun here.”
Stay tuned for Lambert's next production: a strange little spoof on baptism.