From a lively opening featuring Eurovision winner Dana, to a solemn ending – when former special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Terry Waite, spoke of his five years’ imprisonment – the Christian Resources Exhibition’s return to (CRE) Sandown Park, Surrey, ‘touched all the emotions.’
A total of 4,061 people (excluding exhibitors and their staff) visited the show during its three days and some 200 exhibitors were so enthusiastic that more than 30 have already booked stands for next year.
CRE’s new owner, Steve Goddard, had been its public relations consultant for many years. He and his wife Allison took ownership of the event late last year. They appointed Brett Pitchfork, who had managed the exhibition in the early 2000s, as event director. Based in St Helens on Merseyside, Steve was delighted with response to the first CRE under his control.
‘Many local church leaders, lay and ordained, rely on it for fresh ideas for ministry, mission and maintenance,’ he said. ‘Taking the event back to Sandown Park, after two years at ExCeL in London, proved an emotional homecoming.’
Some 200 exhibitors displayed everything from pulpits to puppets, sound systems to stained glass, charities to children’s work. A 55-strong choir from Notre Dame School in nearby Cobham (pictured) sang a reworded version of Dana’s Eurovision-winning song, All Kinds of Everything, ending it with ‘for your church and you’. Visibly moved, Dana told the girls: ‘I am so glad you were not singing in Eurovision – I would have faced stiff competition!’
Terry Waite’s visit was made more emotional by the presence of 59-year-old Andrew Coleman, son of the late Canon John Coleman, whose freedom Terry had negotiated in Iran, prior to his own capture in the Lebanon.
‘It was wonderful to meet Terry again after all he did for my parents,’ said Mr Coleman.
Other guests included musicians Bryn Haworth and Jonathan Veira. Some 40 seminars covered subjects like evangelism, social media, sound systems and church building projects. Among the speakers were George Verwer, veteran of world mission, who founded Operation Mobilisation and Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance.
While one in four of the visitors to CRE came from Surrey, and more than one in ten from London, others came from all over the UK including Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands. Three people travelled to Sandown Park from Japan. Most traditional denominations were represented on the visitors list with 43 per cent belonging to Anglican churches and 16 per cent to Baptist churches.
‘Response was so positive that we have re-booked Sandown Park for the same week in 2018,’ said Brett Pitchfork. ‘CRE will run for three days again, from Oct 16 to 18. We are also considering more regional exhibitions, too.’
Photo: Laurence Cremetti
It will be Dana’s turn to be serenaded when Cobham’s Notre Dame School: Bordeaux and Lestonnac Choirs (pictured) sing a new version of her famous Eurovision-winning song ‘All Kinds of Everything’ at Sandown Park next week (9.45am, Tue 17 Oct).
The 50-strong, all-girls choir will be in full voice at the opening of the Christian Resources Exhibition. Their fun version of Dana’s most famous song will feature organisations, suppliers and charities at what is often dubbed the ‘ideal church show.’
‘The pupils are learning a whole new ecclesiastical vocabulary that includes “chasubles” and “thuribles” – all part of a well-rounded education!’ said exhibition owner Steve Goddard.
‘I am happy and honoured to cut the ribbon on this wonderful exhibition,’ said Dana, Ireland’s first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. As an 18-year-old schoolgirl in 1970 she was the last of 12 performers to sing before an estimated viewing audience of 200 million.
‘It is a special pleasure to welcome Dana back to CRE,’ said Steve Goddard. ‘And I’m especially delighted she will be with us for all three days when she will sing, be interviewed about her distinguished career in music and politics and take part in Worship Alive, a special conference for musicians and sound technicians in local churches. She will also speak and sing at Notre Dame on Wednesday morning.’
Almost 200 organisations at CRE 2017 will display everything from pulpits to puppets, computers to clergy clothing. Some 40 seminars will cover a range of practical subjects like cyber security and sound systems.
Notre Dame School: Bordeaux and Lestonnac Choirs
Notre Dame School in Cobham is committed to offering an excellent all-round academic education for every individual, whether they be two or 18. With a rich 400 year history and an international living tradition, Notre Dame welcomes families of all faiths. We have a truly committed and dedicated staff, who encourage each child to achieve their full potential.
We aim to offer a holistic and personalised education, in a secure and stimulating environment where pupils are encouraged and challenged academically, socially, creatively and in sports, music and drama. Our students are encouraged to treat themselves and each other as valued individuals and to have a responsible and independent attitude towards work and society and contribute willingly to the wider community.
We are a school that offers a Christian education, so the principles of welcome, nurture and compassion are evident as you walk through the door. As a Catholic school we are distinctive in our care and love for each individual. This is part of our mission as a faith school where all are welcome, and this ethos stretches worldwide, seeking to bring stability and compassion into an uncertain world.
The Prep Music Department at Notre Dame School offers an inclusive, well rounded musical education which educates the whole child. Music is always a practical activity and all skills, knowledge and appreciation are learned through the musical activities of performing, composing and listening. Singing is a natural and fundamental activity accessible to all. Musical experience in the Prep School is both grounded and spiritual, both individual and communal, and both personally tailored and all embracing.
The Lestonnac and Bordeaux Choirs are part of our Junior Music department (ages 7 to 11) and regularly perform in school masses, concerts and services as well as in festivals, care homes and charity concerts.
The Christmas card you give to the milkman, accountant, binman or school teacher needs to feature more than dancing penguins.
So says Anne Horrobin, director of CRE exhibitor Just Cards Direct. ‘Christmas is a time when we can share our faith more easily but for many of us, buying Christmas cards means a scramble for the last remaining pack of cards on the supermarket shelf.’
Just Cards Direct will be at CRE 2017 to present a range of cards expressing the true meaning of the season with a verse to encourage and prompt interest in the Christian faith.
‘Time and time again I hear people say how it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find Christmas cards on the high street reflecting the true meaning of Christmas,’ continues Anne. ‘We aim to provide cards that are impactful in both design and message.’
With matching coasters, mugs and magnets to accompany the designs there are gift sets available, too.
• Just Cards Direct on stand FC5 at CRE 2017
Could you church cope with the results of an ‘act of God’ – or being sued by a member of the general public?
‘Churches must consider risks each day and face up to the worst thing that could happen,’ maintains Emma Christian of Bridges Insurance Brokers, who have insured churches for more than 30 years.
In one case, a woman slipped over a sunken paving slab in a church car park, injuring her face.
‘She received over £13,000 in compensation,’ recalls Emma. ‘Thankfully, the church was covered sufficiently. The insurance provider paid out what would have been a significant amount for the church.’
Storm damage is another area that shouldn’t be neglected.
‘On one stormy day in December, high winds and rain completely destroyed the flat roof of another church,’ recalls Emma. ‘The roof needed to be replaced and water had come into the building. The total cost of the claim was almost £70,000.’
The leader of yet another church turned up to find a leaking water tank upstairs had caused water to soak through the ceiling into the floor below.
‘It was the end of August and no-one had visited the church for a few days,’ recounts Emma. ‘The insurers estimated the damage would cost in the region of £30,000 to repair. We never know what is around the corner but we can take steps to make these events less likely to happen.’
• Bridges Insurance Brokers will be on stand S148 at CRE 2017
More than 700,000 children are regularly hearing Bible stories at school – and you can become part of Open the Book’s next chapter at CRE 2017.
Using props and costumes to re-enact Bible stories during assemblies, some 14,800 volunteers from a variety of local churches currently access about 2600 primary schools. As a result, children are hearing Bible stories, many for the first time.
Major people and events are presented – Noah, Daniel and the life of Jesus, for example. The project comes at no charge to schools and often involves children and staff. Part of Bible Society, Open the Book’s vision is to bring the Bible to life to every child in every one of the 18,280 schools in England and Wales – reaching 4.5 million pupils.
As an independent charity in its infancy, the organisation took part in its first-ever CRE in 2012.
‘We had a smallish stand but were five deep in visitors for most of the day,’ recalls Val Ralston, Open the Book’s promotion and training officer. ‘My colleague and I were on the verge of losing our voices. Our chairman had to wave at us from afar!’
‘The exhibition provides a great platform to spread Bible storytelling into new parts of the country,’ explains Julie Jefferies, Open the Book’s development and training manager. ‘We meet storytellers, find out local news and receive helpful feedback. Good news travels fast and Open the Book is exactly the type of news people like to pass on. Consequently, the more people who take part, the more people they tell. It’s like passing on a tasty recipe – it’s easy to prepare, cooks quickly, tastes delicious and everyone likes it!’
• Open the Book is on stand S24 at CRE 2017
Photo: Linda Russell, Lynn Castillo and Wendy Bird, part of the Open the Book team from St Bartholomew’s, Wednesbury, performing The Wise Men’s Visit at St John’s C of E, Wednesbury.
Bible stories bursting into life at a touch on the iPad – that’s what visitors can expect to see at next week’s CRE 2017.
‘A shift is vital in the way children and young people are taught,’ said Museum of the Bible’s Mark Markiewicz. ‘At a time when most two-year-olds can access information on smart phones and tablets, we need to totally re-think our methods of communication. I am delighted that Museum of the Bible is playing a significant part in re-shaping religious education in the 21st Century – and you can find out how at CRE 2017.’
Harnessing the latest technology, and developed especially by Museum of the Bible, visitors will see biblical stories dynamically presented as never before.
‘Using Augmented Reality, brings the text book pages to life,’ said Julia Diamond-Conway of fellow exhibitor RE Today Services. ‘Level upon level of hidden information can be investigated by the student. Augmented Reality allows such a deep exploration of words and pictures and the investment in these new resources contributes towards putting RE at the forefront of innovative teaching methods.’
Julia will also lead a seminar at CRE – Religious Education and Technology (3pm, Tue 17 Oct).
Positively recycled is how Charlotte describes her life since coming into contact with CRE exhibitor Nicodemus.
‘I had an awful childhood, became homeless with a 13-month-old baby and felt beyond lost and alone,’ she recalls. ‘Then I met some people from Nicodemus, received a mentor who became a God-send and over time, just an incredible friend.’
Today, Charlotte is involved in Nicodemus’ youth leadership programme and creates presentations for schools and networking meetings.
‘My hope is to one day work for Nicodemus full time and use my own experiences to help others like me,’ she says. ‘I have been positively recycled and Nicodemus has done incredible things for me. I am excited about my future!”
Homeless and temporarily losing custody of her daughter, Rhiannon also came into contact with Nicodemus.
That was 18 months ago. Growing in confidence, she has started using her own personal experiences to write and deliver a course on domestic violence for other young adults. What’s more, with help from her mentor, she is now working on moving from supported living to her own accommodation. A passionate ambassador for Nicodemus, Rhiannon recently said: ‘I am limitless with this kind of support.’
Founded by Alastair and Debbie Welford, Nicodemus began with the the couple’s passion to rescue, restore and rebuild the most marginalised, overlooked and abandoned young people – empowering and equipping them to become change agents within their communities.
They embarked on a youth leadership and community action programme with the street children and young people of Latin America. There are now 60 young adults being supported through their youth leadership programme in Guatemala.
In 2013, they realised that there were many young adults in the UK with a similar profile to those in Guatemala. They were just ‘more hidden away’.
‘Young people face challenging circumstances growing up in poverty,’ explains Debbie Welford, who with Alastair will lead a seminar at CRE entitled ‘How your church can meet the needs of broken and marginalised people’ (11am, Thu 19 Oct).
‘We identify the need and work in partnership with others to bring solutions and an outcome that leaves a lasting legacy. We aim to equip young people to develop life skills, build up trust, stabilise and gently progress them to take leadership and ownership of their own lives. We love to partner with churches so pop by our stand at Sandown Park. Charlotte will be there and we’d love to meet you!’
• Nicodemus are on stand C14 in the Youth Zone at CRE 2017
The essential tools to build your church using social media will be outlined at CRE 2017.
‘Those who reject Christianity are highly unlikely to be reached by the traditional church,’ explains Laura Treneer of Christian Publishing and Outreach (CPO), who will lead the seminar with Rev Dan Beesley of St Mary’s, Princes Risborough (12 noon, Tue 17 Oct). ‘However, the same people are likely to spend, on average, 20 hours a week on the internet. This presents us with an amazing opportunity, if we know how to use it wisely.’
Combining missional vision with practical advice, the seminar covers information contained in Laura’s recently-published book Church Online: Social Media (BRF). You will understand why social media matters and how it works for churches, hear practical examples and inspiring stories from a panel of contributors and take away building blocks to develop your own local church digital strategy.
‘The seminar and book are aimed at church teams who want to reach their communities effectively,’ says Laura, recently appointed as the new chief executive of CPO. ‘The book is a perfect resource for church leaders and volunteers short on time who need fast, relevant advice. Whether you’re looking for a crash course, brief refresher or reference toolkit, you’ll find what you need in it. And, of course, you can pick up a copy after the seminar at CRE.’
Laura’s understanding of churches is helped in part by her husband’s role for the past 10 years as senior pastor of a Baptist church in Brighton.
‘CPO is a charity, and for 60 years has been serving the church in its communications,’ she says. ‘I believe it has a strategic role to play as a resource, not just for churches, but for charities, bookshops and suppliers.’
• Laura Treneer and Rev Dan Beesley’s seminar, Building your church through social media, takes place at 12 noon, Tue 17 Oct. CPO are on stand S27 at CRE 2017
Before he started visiting prisons, legendary slide guitarist Bryn Haworth had no idea about the church behind locked doors.
‘It started in 1990 with a “nagging” Bible verse,’ recalls Bryn, guest on Cindy’s Sofa at CRE 2017 (1pm, Thu 19 Oct). ‘Matthew 25:36 says “When I was in prison you visited me.” I discovered brothers and sisters there just like us. They had simply got into trouble and were more in need of help.’
That first exploratory visit developed into the Music in Ministry Trust with Bryn and his wife Sally reaching dozens of prisons across the UK.
‘The big difference is that prisoners are starved of resources – books, song books, music equipment, people to talk to and pray with them,’ says Bryn. ‘It has been shown that prisoners who maintain healthy contact with the outside world are six times less likely to reoffend. And prisoners specially respond to the blues!’
As well as doing concerts, Bryn, a singer-songwriter with a distinguished history as a recording and live artist, takes Sunday services and leads workshops – liaising with prison chaplaincy departments. He and Sally have seen many prisoners ‘saved, healed and released in creative gifts.’ On release from prison, their lives have turned around for good.
‘We know some wonderful prison chaplains, with workloads beyond their capacity, managing to cope only with the help of a few volunteers,’ he says. He has recorded two albums specially for prisoners – Time Out and Inside Out – and has just released a compilation Water from the Rock.
‘Our vision for the future is to let the church “outside” know about the church behind bars and what an extraordinary ministry it is,’ explains Bryn who still does regular concerts and will sing a couple of songs during Cindy’s Sofa (1pm, Thu 19 Oct). ‘If you would love to get stuck in where you’re needed, talk to me at CRE!’
• Music in Ministry Trust is Display Panel (DP) 6 at CRE 2017
At 78, Richard Ferguson can still recite the whole of Mark’s Gospel by heart – though he might need ‘a bit of prompting’ these days.
The retired rural clergyman took nine months to write his own translation of Mark from the original Greek, published in a 190-page book Rock and Breakers. Available at Richard’s Making Sense of the Gospels stand FC9 at CRE 2017, the book includes his translation, comments to help the reader and two CDs containing his own reading of the gospel.
At the time, as area dean of Morpeth, he performed live recitals of the entire gospel in churches, halls and community centres throughout Northumberland. It took him two hours to recite the entire gospel with a short break in the middle. By his own admission his memory is not what it was – but he doesn’t need much prompting.
Now retired from his final job as vicar of Kirkwhelpington, Kirkheaton and Cambo united benefice, he has produced another five books to aid those who have never read the gospels or who find them difficult to grasp. His subsequent books include:
Footsteps – following on from the original book, this is written to help those who know nothing about Jesus Christ.
The Great Gospel – an introduction to Matthew’s gospel, helpful to anyone reading it for the first time.
Listen to the Gospels – explaining why the four gospels are so different and why it is important to understand the differences.
A Reading of John – a new translation of the gospel with each chapter followed by explanations on why the text was written.
The Journey of Prayer – a short booklet to help those who have never prayed or whose prayer life is experiencing difficulties.
‘They will all be available at CRE and I look forward to meeting people there,’ said the man whose burning vision is simply to help those who struggle with reading the Bible.
• Making Sense of the Gospels is stand FC9 at CRE 2017