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Blessed assurance: Laurie’s campaign for good financial stewardship

No widow ever thinks her husband was over-insured!

That’s the view of Laurie Mellor, who recently presented a cheque for £395,000 to a widow on the unexpected death of her 51-year-old husband.

‘Nobody ever wakes up one morning and thinks, “It’s such a nice day I’ll take out some life assurance”. Generally, it needs an adviser to explain the benefits of what is essentially an altruistic act,’ he explains. ‘Whilst no amount of money can ever compensate for the loss of a loved one, the money enabled the lady in question to pay off her mortgage. She then invested the balance to produce a monthly income, making her secure for life.’

Laurie is founder of independent financial advisers The Mellor Practice, exhibitors at CRE 2017. Though he has had more than 30 years’ experience in insurance, a death claim reminds him of the value of his role.

‘I recognise that not all Christians are comfortable with the notion of life assurance,’ he reflects. ‘Sometimes it is right to “just trust the Lord”. However, if we have the means to pay the premiums, good stewardship may well dictate that we make provision via a suitable life policy.’

Laurie also has two books to his name: The Sick Rose: England’s Spiritual Crisis (2010) and Sales Success in Tough Times: How to Thrive, Not Just Survive (2003).

And going back even further, some will also remember him as bass player in 1980’s evangelistic band, Rev Counta and the Speedoze!

The Mellor Practice are on Stand S50 at CRE2017

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The hidden cost of ministry in ’target culture’ times

Research by St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy in 2013 discovered that two in every three ordained clergy frequently consider giving up the ministry because of stress.

At the same time, a government survey suggested vicars enjoy more job satisfaction than any other profession.

‘They can’t both be right!’ says Jeremy Moodey, chief executive of CRE 2017 exhibitor Sons & Friends of the Clergy, a 362-year-old charity providing support to Anglican clergy and their dependants.

‘What is clear is that many face financial hardship, especially if they have families. The National Minimum Stipend of £23,800 is significantly less than the average full-time salary in the UK of £27,600. They also face increased stress, especially given the emergence in the church of what some call a “target” culture (managerialism).’

Clergy wellbeing was debated in the General Synod in York recently. Canon Simon Butler of St Mary’s Battersea proposed a national clergy covenant, modelled on the armed forces version, setting a benchmark for clergy care and support.

‘The General Synod responded in typical fashion,’ says Jeremy. ‘It set up a working group to report back in two years’ time!’

No recent research has been conducted about clergy indebtedness but a 2001 survey suggested that one in ten had debts in excess of £10,000. Just under one in five with a non-earning spouse and dependent children, struggled to pay household bills if relying solely on the stipend.

‘In the past 16 years these figures will certainly have got worse,’ stresses Jeremy, ‘especially with the greater availability of debt and only modest growth in stipends. But many clergy are reluctant to admit they have a problem. Clergy marriage breakdown is a major issue, but one that the Church is reluctant to address.’

The thrust of the General Synod debate suggests church authorities are not doing enough to help their clergy. Jeremy will lead a seminar about the subject at CRE 2017 (12pm, Thu 19 Oct). Established in 1655, Sons & Friends of the Clergy is one of the oldest Anglican clergy support charities, and now certainly the biggest. The charity provides financial grants and other support to serving and retired clergy, ordinands and clergy families, where there is particular hardship or need, whether financial or health-related.

Sons & Friends of the Clergy are on Stand 125 at CRE 2017.

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At last! Jonathan Veira to perform at CRE

At home singing opera at Glyndebourne and Gospel at Gold Hill Baptist, Jonathan Veira’s considerable vocal and comic talents make him a hugely popular performer.

He has performed across the globe in a variety of musical styles from Mozart to John Adams. In addition to operatic roles, Jonathan regularly broadcasts on BBC radio and TV He has recorded numerous cds and contributed to TV programmes across many genres, including light entertainment and religious broadcasting, particularly BBC TV’s Songs of Praise.

His Christian faith has been an essential part of his life and work and he has recorded a number of albums with something to suit all tastes, from traditional hymns and carols to blues and gospel.

‘It will be great to be at CRE2017 with my old friend Cindy Kent MBE (who will host Cindy’s Bar) and “All Kinds of Everything” legend Dana,’ said Jonathan. ‘It’s intriguing to wander round the exhibition, checking out the extraordinary range of resources available to the church today. Every need is met – from chairs and candles, to hymn books and, this year, me! I look forward to performing a short programme of what I can offer to the modern church – and renewing many friendships.’

Jonathan will be a guest on Cindy’s Sofa at lunchtime on Wed 18 Oct, before performing at 3pm on the same afternoon. His books and CDs will also be available.

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Hope comes to life with Compassion Experience

See hope come to life in a purpose-built slum – that’s the thinking behind the Compassion Experience, a major front-of-house feature at CRE2017.

Originally constructed in the USA and inspired by an initiative of Compassion International, the Compassion Experience made its UK debut recently at Edgeborough School in Farnham when nearly 250 children and over 70 adults past through its doors.

Housing interactive, tactile, audio and visual stories of Sameson, the Experience follows the lives of a boy from Ethiopia and Shamim, a girl from Uganda. Both Sameson and Shamim grew up experiencing the vulnerability, restrictions and dangers that poverty brings in their respective cultures and contexts.

Beth O’Reilly, a Year 3 teacher at Edgeborough, said: ‘We aim to cultivate our children’s global perspectives and to teach them about life outside of Farnham. We want to encourage our children to recognise that not all young people have the same opportunities that we have.  By involving alternative educational tools such as the Compassion Experience, we hope to provide the children we teach with an experience that will not only be memorable, but also effective in helping them to develop attributes such as compassion and to contemplate how they might make a difference in the world.’

Compassion is an international child development charity with more than 60 years’ experience working with some of the world’s poorest children. At present more than 1.8 million children attend Compassion’s church-based projects in 25 of the world’s poorest countries.

‘We brought the Compassion Experience to the UK to bring the developing world to our doorsteps,’ said Justin Dowds, CEO of Compassion UK. ‘When people think of poverty, they often think of the lack of material things, but actually poverty is the lack of freedom to make meaningful choices. Poverty narrows children’s horizons and undermines their ambitions. Through our holistic child development program Compassion stirs hope in children. You can witness that hope coming to life through the Compassion Experience.’

‘The Compassion Experience will enable visitors to CRE to experience another world without leaving their own,’ explains Compassion UK’s Caroline Cameron. ‘We hope hundreds of visitors will consider bringing the trailer to their local churches and schools. Most importantly the presentation will offer a message of hope for children sponsored through our world-class child development programe.’

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Cut the clutter! Put it on an app

Mobile apps can simplify church communications and help you reach and engage new members.

So says James Dickson, founder of CRE exhibitor Piota (Put it on the App), makers of high quality, affordable mobile apps for churches, schools, charities and local community organisations.

‘Keeping your congregation engaged and in touch is not easy,’ said James, who worked in finance for 20 years before setting up Piota. ‘They want to hear from you but their inboxes are crowded. Add to that a young adult demographic that doesn’t do email, a website which broadcasts information but can’t personalise it and ever-decreasing attention spans. Even the most inspiring or urgent material goes unread.’

If you are struggling to cover everyone through a mix of emails, texts, Facebook feeds and website announcements, you already know the problem!

‘You need a high-quality mobile app versatile enough to double up as both a messaging centre and information hub for your congregation, volunteers and wider church family,’ contends James.

‘Our church app, which we will demonstrate at CRE, is your one-stop shop. It speeds up communications in rich formats, directly to everyone with the app or specific sub-groups. It’s a quick reference source with immediate access to everything people need to know, from meeting timings to last week’s sermon, to how to donate. It is affordable and should even pay for itself in cost and time savings.’

* Piota will be on stand S57 at CRE2017

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Rachel and team consider ‘revival’ among young people

TED-style talks on school missions, worship for all ages and intentional discipleship are among a host of subjects covered in the Youth Zone at CRE2017.

Open all day for three days, the zone will feature a range of speakers including:

Rachel Gardner (pictured above), Relationships Lead at Youthscape and president of the Girls Brigade, who will share from her long experience in engaging with young people in tough-to-talk-about topics.

Tom Butler, Head of Missions at the Message Trust, who will outline his work with young people in mission. Tom has 10 years’ experience as a youth pastor and is developing the trust’s mission teams, reaching and discipling young people.

Youth for Christ’s Laura Hancock, who will explore current youth culture in relation to the local church.

CRE’s Youth Zone comes at a time when new figures show one young person in six self identifies as a practising Christian. The statistics show that 13 per cent of 11 to 18-year-olds say they are regular churchgoers and more than one in five (21 per cent) describe themselves as active followers of Jesus.

The study, commissioned by the HOPE Revolution partnership and carried out by ComRes, suggests that a commitment to Christianity is much higher among young people than previously thought. Another study, Youth for Christ’s Gen Z: Rethinking Culture research, showed similar results, suggesting that a surprisingly high number of young people still describe themselves as Christian.

‘We will look in depth at the results of our survey and take time to explore what it means for local churches in their attempts to engage with current youth culture,’ said YFC’s Laura Hancock, who will also lead the zone. ‘We will consider how best to take the good news of Jesus to a fresh generation of young people.’

Youth Zone exhibitors include:

Bible Education Services
Sandyholme
The Treasure Box People
Discover Archery
iSingPOP
Pulse Ministries
Hope Now
Nicodemus
Youth For Christ

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‘Card-carrying’ gospel duo set for Cindy’s Bar

From Croydon to Esher, via Germany, Italy, Poland, Jamaica and the USA – that’s the journey of Clif and Marie Reid, special guests at CRE 2017.

Surrounded by church choirs from birth, the duo started singing and playing at an early age in south London. Their love for music was further influenced by Thomas Whitfield, The Winans, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams and the Clarke Sisters. Accomplished and exuberant vocalists in their own right, Clif is now a sought-after keyboard player. They have also produced their own album, If Only, offering upbeat urban Gospel.

Married in 1998, they have also launched My Truth, a conversational card game for married couples. Marie invented the game after writing subject headings on paper, screwing them up and challenging Clif to share his views on the subjects in question.

‘I was amazed and surprised at some of the insights Clif shared,’ admitted Marie. ‘Even after 17 years of marriage, I really saw his heart on issues more deeply. If this ‘game’ could bring out new insights for us I figured it could do the same for other couples.’

‘Answering the questions really made me dig deep,’ admitted Clif. ‘Marie and I have a strong marriage but this game made it stronger.’

The couple will sing each lunchtime in Cindy’s Bar, a dedicated venue offering entertainment and conversation, hosted by Rev Cindy Kent MBE.

‘CRE is a fantastic place to meet people and discover new ideas and resources,’ said Marie. ‘Seeing so many organisations in one place, focused on strengthening and supporting the church, is truly inspiring. We are honoured to share our music and card game, to help touch and heal hearts and relationships.’

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All kinds of everything… for all types of church

Irish singer Dana opened CRE in 1993 (see picture) and, we’re delighted she will do the same again – cutting the tape on an exhibition that offers all kinds of everything for all types of churches.

Dana will be with us for three days, where she will be interviewed by Rev Cindy Kent MBE about her wide-ranging career in music and politics and take part in various special events.

As Ireland’s first winner of the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest, the school girl from Derry became an overnight singing star, with a number one record throughout Europe. Years of recording success followed with chart-topping albums and singles and she hosted her own hit series, A Day Out with Dana (BBC), andWake Up Sunday (BBC).

In the midst of a successful mainstream career, Dana started to speak publicly about her faith. She and husband Damien began writing songs together, including Totus Tuus – inspired by the motto of the Late Pope John Paul II.

In 1987, Dana was invited to lead 86,000 young people in singing Totus Tuus for Pope John Paul II in the New Orleans’s Super Dome. Around this time, she was also invited to sing at three of Dr. Billy Graham’s Crusades, two in the US, and one in London’s Wembley Stadium in the UK.

During the 1990s, she entered the world of politics, securing a nomination to run in the 1997 Irish Presidential election, the first non-political, non-party candidate ever to do so. She campaigned on protecting the Christian family values and life enshrined in the Irish Constitution, and earned a respectable 14 per cent of the votes, beating one of Ireland’s major political parties. In 1999, she was subsequently elected as a Member of the European Parliament, representing Ireland’s Connacht-Ulster constituency from 1999 to 2004.

Dana and her husband Damien have their own new music production company called DS Music Productions. She has remained close to her Irish roots, working tirelessly for peace and Christian family values.

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Major Messy Church conference at CRE 2017

Whether you’re a start up or a seasoned campaigner, you’ll find what you’re looking for at a special three-day Messy Church conference at CRE 2017.

This highly-successful initiative, using hands-on activities to explore Bible stories, is church for people who don’t do church – providing a ‘safe’ space to encounter the Christian faith. Messy Churches meet at times (and sometimes places) that suit people who don’t already belong to a fellowship. It’s all age. And it’s fun.

We’re delighted that CRE exhibitor BRF, who resource, support and enable the project, will run three, two-hour conferences on the project, one on each day of CRE 2017, looking at different aspects of the Messy phenomenon.

Tue 17 Oct
11am – Starting and sustaining a Messy Church
To include a discipleship pilot report, demos of one or two discipleship pilots and a chance to try out Messy Science

Wed 18 Oct
11am – Theology from the Mess
A ‘Being Messy, Being Church’ forum with another opportunity to try out Messy Science

Thu 19 Oct
11am – The Big Messy Meet-Up
An update of the latest Messy projects, with particular reference to discipleship and vintage pilots and a final opportunity to try out Messy Science

A full list of speakers will available soon.

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Nothing beats sitting on it, wearing it, tasting it…

Offering a host of new ideas and initiatives in a fast-changing world, CRE returns to Sandown Park in the Autumn (17 to 19 October 2017).

‘While we discover products and services online, discerning customers will always want to try before they buy, meet the person behind the product, the man behind the mission,’ said event director Brett Pitchfork. ‘Put simply, nothing beats sitting on it, wearing it, listening to it, tasting it – and comparing it to other options. You can only do all of that, under one roof, at CRE.

‘We are putting together an exhibition which builds on the quality and experience of the past, yet presents fresh ideas, products and suppliers to local church leaders and members.’

Among new features at CRE 2017 are:

Museum of the Bible – an innovative, global, educational feature inviting us to engage with the history, narrative and impact of the Bible

The Compassion Experience – a unique, interactive trailer presenting the lives of two real children living in abject poverty

Messy Church – a conference for everyone connected with this highly-successful initiative, from seasoned campaigners to start ups

A keynote speaker at CRE will be George Verwer, who founded and led Operation Mobilisation for more than 40 years. ‘It’s a great time in history for the Church,’ he said, ‘and I’ll be at CRE to tell visitors what is God doing through the Church, around the world.’

Rev Cindy Kent MBE returns to host Cindy’s Sofa, her popular lunchtime chat show featuring music, drama and a range of special guests. UCB Radio will broadcast live from the show floor.

‘CRE is a place to build and develop important relationships with local church leaders and provide solutions as they reach out to their communities,’ said Andy Moreman, CEO of CPO. ‘We look forward meeting members of hundreds of churches in October.’

To receive regular news updates about CRE 2017, click here.

If you represent an organisation considering a stand at CRE, click here.

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