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'The jokes are on us': Churchyard transformed into comedy paradise

by Kelly Valencia

Jokes and inspiring quotes have taken over a churchyard in Derbyshire. 

St. Peter's Belper has put up 35 posters on its lime trees displaying jokes and funny pictures to bring some cheer to the many local people who walk through the churchyard each day. 

Speaking to Premier,  Rev Tony and Helen Ward, who are part of the church leadership team, said they came up with the idea while praying. 

"I just felt God say to me really put jokes on the trees. And I just thought, well, that's ridiculous," Rev Helen said. "But you know, sometimes when you have something like that you have to kind of run with it. So, I talked about it with Tony and [he said]: 'I think it could be a really good idea'," she continued. 

As you walk towards the church there's a sign explaining how they are helping to beat the winter gloom: "these trees have seen many griefs and joys, and we hope that you will enjoy what we've put up on them. You might laugh, you might groan, but we hope this will encourage you."

The idea has been welcomed by local people. Rev Tony and Helen Ward said they've received many phone calls from people applauding their idea and have loved watching how people are engaging with it.

"They stop and someone says: "I don't get that one or that one!" and then suddenly, you see the penny drop, that's great." Rev Tony said. 

"I've really enjoyed mums going around with their children and explaining the jokes. We've got some jokes that the children have submitted. One of those jokes is from Logan, aged nine:  'Why was the snowman looking through a bag of carrots?'… because he was picking his nose," Rev. Tony and Helen said, laughing. 

But the posters not only contain jokes; they also include memorable quotes, Bible verses, cartoons, helpline numbers and QR codes.

"One of my favourite quotes is from Maya Angelou. She says: 'It's not what people say. It's not what people do. But it's how people make you feel that makes the difference'," Rev Helen said. 

"It has got some Bible verses too. So, we've got that lovely verse in Matthew's Gospel, 11:28. And then there's Romans 8:38 - 39" Rev Tony said. "Is one of those things trying to strike a positive and uplifting message in this gloomy time," he continued. 

The posters will be on display until 5th February.

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