At 11:20 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 25, the mission statement of the Diocese of Nashville, “Living and Proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, Welcoming All,” could be seen across Briley Parkway as the new Diocese Digital Billboard for the Catholic Pastoral Center was illuminated for the first time.
“We want this sign to proclaim our mission statement to the world around us,” said Bishop J. Mark Spalding, during the dedication ceremony. “May they know Christ through all that we do, and may this sign invite them to come to know us and see Christ in what we do.
“As we gather here today, we’re thankful for the generosity of so many people, and the good work of each one of us gathered here,” he said. “May the generosity and the blessings of this diocese build up the Church of Middle Tennessee, this Diocese of Nashville.
“At the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus sends the disciples out and their message went forward into the world that he had been raised and that you are baptized in Christ himself,” he added. “May the Good News of Jesus Christ be proclaimed to one and all starting right here, right now.”
‘Manifestation of the word welcome’
The billboard is the latest tool of communication and evangelization implemented by the diocese.
“This billboard is a manifestation of the word ‘welcome’ in our mission,” said Gia Riney, chief marketing officer for the diocese. “It amplifies our ability to talk to not just Catholics in the metropolitan Nashville area, but also other Christians and faithful residents, plus visitors and travelers coming through the region.”
Banners, which are on an eight-second rotation, range from promoting ministries of the diocese to letting passers-by know of upcoming events at the Catholic Pastoral Center and local churches, reaching passengers in more than 93,000 vehicles every day. Banners use full-color motion graphics intended to attract drivers’ attention without interfering with their safe driving habits, Riney said.
“Hundreds of thousands of people each year will see the Word of God on our sign, learn about our ministries, and get up-to-the-minute details on events in this very building,” Riney said.
And to reach an even larger audience, about 30 percent of the banners will be seen in Spanish, Riney said.
“The Nashville area is growing rapidly. An important part of that growth is the burgeoning Spanish-speaking community along with other communities that are coming to Nashville seeking the amazing opportunities the city offers for workers and their families,” Riney said. “We want to make sure that our message, the Good News of Jesus Christ, is being communicated not only in English, but also in Spanish.
“Additionally, our Hispanic Ministry is based here in the (Catholic Pastoral Center) with Sagrado Corazon Church and other offices onsite,” she added. “A large number of Hispanic Catholics attend church services and other events here. We want to make sure all Catholics feel welcome.”
The billboard will also serve as a way to communicate new information from the Vatican.
“If Pope Francis says something fantastic, that’s something we can put up there as quick, easy content to spread the Good News,” added Bill Staley, diocesan director of new media evangelization.
‘This was the right time’
The new sign is something that has been in the plans for many years, ever since the diocese first bought the building in August of 2014. But it had to wait for the right time, said Brian Cooper, chancellor and chief operating officer of the diocese.
“When we came … we did not have a sign,” Cooper said. “It said ‘Catholic Center coming soon.’”
Then, as preparations began for Bishop Spalding’s ordination and installation on Feb. 2, 2018, the first upgrade was made.
“Out of good stewardship, we put up a banner … that looked like a sign and … it served four years,” Cooper said. “During that time, the diocese has transformed itself in terms of people, in terms of the (Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries). The trust and the gifts that now flow into the diocese allow us to do greater things … and the sign itself is a sign of our evolution and growth.”
The timing was right in terms of recent decreases in the cost of technology and materials, too. The billboard uses the latest LED and display technology and full motion video, Cooper said, and what would have cost between $300,000 to $400,000 four years ago has dropped to approximately $135,000 today.
“Its $135,000 price tag can be viewed as a one-time investment in out-of-home advertising by the Diocese of Nashville for a billboard that can be utilized by local churches, ministries, and Catholic entities,” Riney added. “Consultative services, like design and copywriting, are offered by the diocese to our Catholic schools, churches, and service groups at no cost.”
“In like everything we do, it’s purposeful and it exhibits good stewardship in that it’s practical,” Cooper said. “Everything has its moment in time and … after four years, after all the things we’ve accomplished, and with the old sign physically wearing out, this was the right time.
“It’s exciting times to be a Catholic in the city of Nashville and in the Diocese of Nashville.”
‘Wonderful in your works’
As Bishop Spalding concluded his remarks during the dedication ceremony, he offered up a prayer.
“Blessed are you Lord, our God and worthy of all praise. For you have provided for the perfecting of your creation through human labor and intelligence, and you show your power and goodness in the inventions of the human race,” he prayed. “Grant that all those who will see this sign improve their lives, and may they recognize that you are wonderful in your works and may learn to carry out your will more readily.”
The billboard was purchased through Complete Signs and installed by Nashville Sign Company on Friday, Feb. 11.