Stoneleigh Park, located in the heart of England, is the venue for CRE Midlands – 4 and 5 March 2020.
Six miles south of Coventry, between the M6, M40 and M42, Hall 2 is Stoneleigh’s biggest and best-equipped venue, offering thousands of free parking places alongside the hall – ideal for exhibitors as well as visitors.
CRE Midlands will attract key local church leaders, influencers and purchasers from major towns and cities like Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Rugby, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Oxford, Cheltenham, Northampton, Milton Keynes, Derby and Nottingham.
‘It’s our first exhibition in the area for five years and while some will go to Surrey for CRE National 2019 (15-17 Oct, Sandown Park) the vast majority will not expect to travel more than 50 miles to a venue,’ explained CRE event director Brett Pitchfork. ‘For them, it’s Stoneleigh only!’
If the exhibition’s visitor profile is similar to CRE North, 50 per cent of an expected 2500+ attendees will be at their first-ever CRE – giving exhibitors access to a fresh and engaged audience.
‘Stand prices are the same as CRE North 2019, making the exhibition as affordable as possible – and there’s a special reason to respond quickly with a 10 per cent early bird discount available on all bookings,’ said CRE sales director Carol Malpass. ‘CRE North sold out with several months to go and with many strategic locations already taken at Stoneleigh, we urge prospective exhibitors to be in touch as soon as possible.’
• For more information and to book a stand at CRE Midlands 2020 click here
Visitors to CRE North posted prayers for Brexit the day after Prime Minister Teresa May saw her latest Brexit Agreement with Brussels defeated in Parliament. The Brexit Prayer Wall was CRE’s response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for five days of prayer in the approach to Brexit. Dana, a former MEP, was among the many who posted prayers.
The prayers were part of a prayer ministry initiative at CRE North, with its own stand, and a dedicated team, Colin and Sandra Findlay. Says Colin: ‘To be involved in prayer ministry is such an honour for us, and we really noticed the benefit of meeting again many of the exhibitors, and picking up on some of their worries and concerns. It was such a blessing to have our own area, where we could take people to pray with – that was invaluable to us.’
The Brexit prayers are listed below, warts and all, just as they were written.
• Please bring the power or reason to all involved in the negotiations for Brexit.
• Please bring your light and truth into our country and into decisions made. May they be godly decisions honouring to You.
• We lay before You the life of our nation and long for your gentle rule to be established here.
• Where there is division we call upon you for unity, where there is hate please bring love, where there is selfishness, bring selflessness, where there is greed, bring generosity, where there is hopelessness bring hope, where there are lies, bring your truth, and where there is darkness bring Your light Almighty God.
• Deuteronomy 4:7 ‘For what great nation is there who has a God so near to them as the Lord our God is to us in all things for which we call upon Him?’ Lord may we as a nation call upon you.
• We pray that you would grant truth and compassion to the media as they report on Brexit.
• Father God we call out for Your Holy Spirit to work and dwell in our land and in our leaders.
• In this time of change and trauma lead us by your Holy Spirit, we pray. Give wisdom to our politicians and leaders.
• Lord thank you that you know what is going to happen. May Your church be a light of peace and reconciliation in Jesus’ name.
• We pray for God fearing, righteous leaders.
• Lord grant our leaders wisdom and wide vision. Defeat the darkness of division and xenophobia. Bring peace, hope and love.
• Lord so many people feel fearful of what the future holds would you help Your Church to be a community where all feel welcome, heard and loved.
• Lord we know that Brexit will cause some disruption and realignment here and in Europe, we pray for this to be achieved with understanding, patience and with a sense of common purpose.
• We pray that God’s wisdom and strength will guide us and His Holy Spirit fill the nation.
• Lord please bring Brexit to pass and grant greater freedom to Your Church.
• Show your church the truth about Brexit.
• Job 12:13 ‘True wisdom and power are found in you God.’ Please bring your wisdom and power to those serving in our government.
• Please bless all those who work in government.
• Lord may Your Will be done in our country.
• Dear Lord, please have Your way.
• Lord, speak to your church in the UK – so they cry out for mercy and grace for the UK.
• Dear God in whom we find true love, mercy and compassion would you help us as we take our next steps in the Brexit decisions. May we strive to love each other, to embrace our differences and show respectful kindness to all.
• We pray that God will have His way and bring peace and security to our country and that democracy is respected and businesses can have surety in how to proceed.
• Dear Lord, please guide all involved in making the right decisions, not just for Britain but for all nations. In Jesus’ name.
• We pray for unity.
• 1 Chronicles 29:12 ‘Power and might are in Your hands, Lord. It is at Your discretion people are made great and given strength.’
• Wisdom, hope, peace, God’s fingerprints in it.
• Lord please grant Teresa May humility and clarity of vision.
• Loving God you were wounded and broken for us. Help us to bind up the wounds in our nation and bring us your peace and wholeness.
• God heal our land.
• Turn the will of the people to Your Will. may Your way rule, govern and protect this land.
• Daniel 9:4 ‘O Lord, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey His commands, we have sinned and done wrong, we have been wicked and have rebelled, we have turned away from your commands and laws.’ Forgive us Lord.
• May your will be done O Lord in our land.
• Lord we pray for wisdom for our government.
• Micah 2:13 ‘The Lord breaker goes before me.’ Let our country ‘break’ through this confusing situation and move according to Your Will O God.
• We pray for healing on all sides as we break off from the European Union.
• Dear God grant humility and strength for all working in Parliament as they represent their communities.
• Lord Jesus please be with our ministers in Parliament at this time when our country is in such need of your wisdom. We pray for the outcome you would have.
• Let’s be free and trust God.
• Father God grant wisdom and vision for the Prime Minister and Party leaders as they negotiate the political future of our nation.
• We pray for our leaders, that they will lead wisely, listen attentively, exercise grace and know peace in their deliberations. Guide them as they make decisions about future relationships with Europe.
• Lord, we pray that your will be done and that your kingdom becomes evident during these trials over Brexit. Let people know You are in charge.
• Lord – 1 Timothy 2:2 – Lord we pray for leaders, for blessings on all, those with whom we agree and those with whom we don’t.
• Lord, please break us from the idolatry of nations, end the sin of injustice and turn our eyes and hearts to you.
• Lord we pray for wisdom as to how the borders are to be reclaimed and re-established.
• Please bring us through the chaos of Brexit. May Your Name be honoured once again in this land. Your will for us to be done.
• Please Lord, help our way forward to Brexit.
• Gambling with millions of people’s lives and livelihoods is a sin. Tearing down bridges and building barriers is a sin. Brexit is a sin. Good Lord, bring repentance and deliverance for Brexit.
A circular cage will be in use at CRE North – not to restrain over-enthusiastic visitors but to demonstrate just how easy it is to use a sports setting for outreach.
‘It’s just one of the resources we are introducing to churches at Event City,’ said Richard Witham, national sports mission leader for Scripture Union. The cage can be used to enable two teams of two to play football, cricket or hockey in short matches – drawing a crowd and the opportunity to connect with the local community.
And with the cricket world cup coming to England later in the year, SU are promoting Sticks for Stumps – a whole raft of related resources aimed at helping churches create occasions to present the Christian message.
‘From cricket on the beach to a school assembly, the material is there to be used,’ said one-time rugby player Richard, who knows how sport can bring together groups of any age. ‘It isn’t difficult to create a faith-sharing opportunity when sport is involved. The resources we have are tried and tested for churches, schools and community groups. They are also great for Messy Church – or Sweaty Church – when all ages can share a sporting activity but also pause for prayer or a short talk.’
Scripture Union will be involved in a seminar at CRE North, Your church and sports ministry, (4pm Wed 13 March) when a number of Christian organisations, involved in various sporting ministries, will present a range of opportunities now available.
• Scripture Union on are stand A 36 at CRE North
Bean bags, biscuits and books, books, books are one man’s vision for the perfect ‘quiet spot’ in every church.
Dave Gatward, managing director of Kevin Mayhew Publishing, said: ‘I want to start a revolution in which churches choose a place where everyone, whatever their age, reads together, where an 89-year-old sits down and enjoys a book with a child of three.’
The company imprint, Palm Tree, is to launch new books in an ever-expanding range for children with the first in the series available at CRE North next week. The first ones include Bible Birds and Beasties, What Happens when You Die, Grandpa? and Dedication Prayers, along with The Classic Children’s Bible.
‘We will publish new books in the series at least twice a year in an ever-expanding range,’ continued Dave, who wants churches to start a children’s library ‘filled with amazing books that they will want to read again and again, and thus learn more about just how much God loves them. Books are the best gifts – they never run out of batteries.’
He also aims to see churches hold prize-givings, celebrating children’s achievements by the presentation of books ‘they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.’
Palm Tree plan to release a book with the Christmas story in September, and Dave hopes others in the range will be used to mark dedications and Christenings.
‘Don’t let the family walk away with nothing,’ he said. ‘Give them a book. Write in it some lovely things from the church and keep in touch. Visitors to our stand at CRE North will be able to get a special pre-order offer complete with samples of the first set of titles. This has me tingling with excitement. I have absolute faith in the transformative power Palm Tree books will have in churches and families.
‘These are books chosen with care and love. I want churches to fall in love with them and to be desperate to find out what’s coming next. And I want children to have books to love, books to be read to and from, books at church and books at home.’
• Kevin Mayhew are on stand C29 at CRE North
It’s simple, communal and creates a high nutrition resource to feed some of the poorest children in the world.
And now you can find out how it all works by booking your place to join a Hand to Hand food packing demonstration at CRE North next week (13/14 Mar).
The activity entails a team of 10 CRE visitors filling bags with dried rice, soya and lentils along with a sachet of micronutrients. These bags are then weighed, sealed, labelled and boxed. Each pack contains six meals (one each for six children) and every box of food helps feed a family of six for a month.
‘Food packing is very simple and creates an end-resource sent by Feed The Hungry UK to some of the poorest children in the world,’ explained Gwyn Williams, the charity’s operations director. ‘It’s also a great way to involve your local community in a worthwhile activity.’
There will be several opportunities to join a Hand to Hand food packing team at CRE North. It will require one hour of your time and you will join a team of nine others.
Wed 13 Mar
11am to 12pm
2pm to 3pm
6pm to 7pm
Thur 14 Mar
11am to 12pm
1pm to 2pm
Stuart Bell, leader of the Ground Level Network and Senior Pastor of Alive Church, Lincoln, said: ‘I am delighted to commend Hand to Hand food packing to churches as it enables people to come together to pack food in a fun and enjoyable way, but also think about how it can be used as an opportunity to connect with their local community.’
• Feed The Hungry – Hand to Hand are on stand P63 at CRE North
Conserving the history of a church is a key to safeguarding its future.
So says Jenny Banks of CRE North exhibitor Fine Art Restoration. She should know. Unique conservation projects take her Carlisle-based company all over the country – from the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of Wight.
‘It is fascinating to visit churches, country estates and historic properties,’ said Jenny, who recently worked on a project for Stratfield Saye, the elegant estate of the Duke of Wellington. She was asked to assess an oil painting depicting a hatchment in the church on the estate grounds. Hatchments traditionally represent the heraldic achievements of a person once deceased, and are displayed in their home, church or family chapel. Fine Art Restoration’s trained art handlers collected the artwork, bringing the necessary equipment to navigate its challenging position at the top of a staircase over the church vestibule.
Above: The hatchments before after conservation work.
‘The conservation work was substantial and involved removing varnish, repairing tears and relining the canvas,’ explained Jenny. ‘We also filled losses, matched pigment for retouching and restored the artwork’s deep reds and shining golds to their original grandeur. We also replaced the stretcher bars, restored the frame and re-varnished the painting to provide a lasting protective finish.’
The managers of Stratfield Saye were delighted with the results.
‘It was a privilege to be invited back to assess a further two artworks displayed in the church as part of our ongoing conservation commitment,’ says Jenny. ‘Artworks displayed in churches are more exposed to environmental and incidental damage, being situated in older historic buildings and also being busy places of worship. Our team of experienced conservators assess artworks, furniture and specialist items within churches and create condition and conservation reports – vital for the long-term maintenance of treasured church contents.
‘Carefully conserving the history of a church is a key to successfully safeguarding its future.’
• Fine Art Restoration are on stand P16 at CRE North
From the retired golfer to a young sailor, churches should find out who plays sport in their congregations – and help them reach out to fellow sports people.
‘More than ten million people play competitive sport each week across the UK and that is a huge mission field,’ said Margy Dry, events co-ordinator for CRE North exhibitor Christians in Sport. ‘We exist to reach the world of sport for Christ and help Christians reach those in their local area with the good news. People who are keen on sport can be missionaries in the gym, on the running track – wherever they are.’
The organisation helps equip Christian sportspeople to share the gospel with teammates.
‘We seek to partner with and encourage churches,’ explained Margy. ‘Our priority is to see sportspeople maturing in Christ in their local church and being supported to shine for him in their local sports clubs and teams.’
Training sessions help members live out and share the gospel and there’s advice on hosting quizzes, tournaments and big-screen events to invite teammates to.
‘Our staff can also provide full support and speakers are available upon request for both training and guest events,’ said Margy, adding ‘We realise that no two churches are the same, but we would love to help you think through what sports mission might look like in your context. Chat to our representative at CRE North for advice and information.’
• Christians In Sport are on stand A36 at CRE North
Only half of the children growing up in Christian homes keep their faith as adults – but a new initiative aims to change all that.
‘It isn’t always easy for parents to nurture faith in their offspring, so the Kitchen Table Project chips in with considerable help and understanding,’ explains project manager Becky Benharder. ‘It brings together a growing movement of mums, dads and carers who want to inspire a faith that lasts in their children.’
The Care for the Family stand at CRE North (C39) will have helpful literature and resources, including Raising Faith, a new book by Andy Frost, director of Share Jesus International and Katherine Hill, UK director for Care for the Family. It is packed with practical tips and stories to encourage sharing faith at home.
Church leaders can also find ways to set up groups of parents nurturing faith in their homes. These include sermon outlines to encourage congregations to work together to see their children grow up in the faith.
‘You will find a starting point with our Inspire Session – a 90-minute small group discussion that helps parents start talking about how important it is to introduce their children to God,’ says Becky. ‘The session comes with a leader’s guide, a pack of discussion cards and a short 10-minute video to help start the conversation.
‘One church has bought copies of the book to give to every parent in the congregation. That is how serious they felt about the subject.’
• Care for the Family are on stand C39 at CRE North
A wall of prayer is CRE’s response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for five days of prayer as we approach Brexit.
Visitors to CRE North will be invited to post their prayers on the wall (stand P66) following Bridging the Brexit Divide, a plenary led by Andy Flannagan of Christians in Politics (12pm, Wed 13 Mar), the day after Prime Minister Teresa May brings her latest Brexit Agreement with Brussels before Parliament. On the first day of CRE North, MPs may also be asked to vote on whether or not to leave the EU without a deal.
‘It is very easy to feel paralysed by both the complexity and toxicity of the issues surrounding Brexit,’ said Andy. ‘We may feel as if we are sliding towards chaos but we follow a God who since the dawn of time has brought order from chaos. It shouldn’t scare us. If you think we are in chaotic times, try living in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar!’
Order emerges from chaos through restored relationships, believes Andy.
‘The cross sits at the centre of history because it makes possible the reconciliation between us and God and between us and those who may not feel like “us” anymore,’ he said. ‘There is currently a real danger of a cultural divide becoming a chasm. We need to build relationships across divides.’
Being on our knees won’t just change the Brexit situation, it will change us – ‘and that might give us just a chance to be peacemakers and bridge-builders.’
Those taking part in Bridging the Brexit Divide include Cllr Tanya Burch from Salford, Methodist minister Rev Ian Rutherford from Manchester and Irish singer and former MEP for Connacht-Ulster, Dana.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has welcomed the initiative at Event City.
‘CRE is an event that brings together churches from many different traditions and persuasions,’ he said. ‘It is an ideal place for positive discussion and agenda setting. My prayer is that we all find wisdom, courage, integrity and compassion for our political leaders and MPs, for reconciliation and a fresh and uniting vision for everyone.’
• Bridging the Brexit Divide is a plenary led by Andy Flannagan of Christians in Politics (12pm, Wed 13 Mar)
• The Brexit Prayer Wall will be on the CRE Prayer Team stand P66
It may be a glaring error that slipped under the righteous radar, but it’s left many wondering whether it was divinely inspired. A typo ‘got past the eagle eye’ of Archdeacon Colin Williams, officiating at a wedding at St Laurence C of E in Ludlow, Shropshire, in 2014.
The service sheet should have read ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’. Instead, it read ‘… deliver us from email’.
‘The bride and groom came up with a draft for the service which seemed good but, in one instance, wasn’t,’ said Colin, currently Archdeacon of the Anglican Diocese in Europe. ‘The sheet had been printed before I spotted the error, so before we came to the Lord’s Prayer, I suggested people recite it in the way they remembered it from school! It didn’t seem to worry the young couple, anyway.’
Now it’s been voted the nation’s favourite parish magazine and service sheet typo by readers of Ship of Fools, the long-established magazine of Christian unrest, Facebook group Church Service Sheet Typos and visitors to the CRE website.
Archdeacon Colin (pictured above), currently based in Frankfurt, Germany, thinks the typo has touched a nerve. ‘The truth is we are beset by electronic communications,’ he said. ‘There’s no escape. Smart phones buzz in our pockets every five minutes.’ He retires at the end of this month – ‘and finally, this could be my five minutes of fame!’
Local publications are a special focus at the exhibition and the event’s organisers are celebrating the unsung work of parish magazine and service sheet editors through the vote which featured ten genuine contributions collected over the years.
‘… But deliver us from email’ garnered 21 per cent of the vote. In second and third place, with 18 and 14 per cent respectively, were:
For 20 years, Anne Coomes of Parish Pump has resourced church magazine editors of all mainline denominations. She will deliver a seminar at CRE North (5pm, Wed 13 Mar), showing editors how to make the most of their much-loved publications.
‘Church magazines still play a critical role in community life,’ said Anne, from Macclesfield. ‘However, every editor can recall that awful moment when they’ve made a mistake and there’s nothing they can do about it. I once ran a headline that should have read: “Make flowers that look like satin.” Instead it said: “Make flowers that look like satan.” Not one of my more glorious moments!’
CRE managing director Steve Goddard said: ‘Since computer software offered us generative text and spellcheckers, the number of typos has actually increased. It is dangerous to become too dependent on technology, though I have to say that many concur with the sentiment expressed by the winning typo.’
See all 10 typos voted for in the poll.
Cartoon by Taffy Davies