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ByDave Hall

Bags of blessing for ‘untouchable’ women of India

Buying the right shopping bag will not save the world – but it provides freedom for people living in poverty.

CRE 2017 exhibitor Promise Bags employ women classed in India as ‘untouchables’ – to make jute, cotton and leather bags. The beautiful products deliver freedom and dignity to their makers.

A Promise Bag is colourful and stylish with all manner of uses – shopping, food or stationery, for example. Made of jute, cotton and leather, it can even be produced with a company logo or publicity message printed on the surface.

Best of all, purchasing a Promise Bag has a direct benefit on people like Mani – an ‘untouchable’ from the rural Indian village of Andhra Pradesh. Mani had no hope and no future having given up school to help provide extra income for her poverty-stricken parents. Married at 14, she lives in a thatched mud house. She worked wherever she could – for long hours under the hot sun in rice, cotton or vegetable fields – for the equivalent of $2 a day.

Now 24, she has regular work, is treated equally and given opportunities to design different types of bags. ‘My ideas and thoughts are valued,’ she said. ‘I am so glad to be part of the leadership team of Promise Bags. I am full of joy and dreaming of building a nice house. I have dignity and the opportunity to dream.’

Promise Bags do not just ensure that ten women stitch together material to create something useful. They are stitching together lives that have been ravaged by unfair treatment and lack of hope. The company’s owners intend to have 100 women in employment by 2020 – a dream that visitors to CRE can share in, by taking away a bag to treasure.

• Promise Bags are on Stand S73 at CRE 2017

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ByDave Hall

How Christian colouring is making waves

A helpful way to rest, pray and meditate – that’s the secret behind Images of Grace and Hope & Joy, books in which readers colour scriptures woven into captivating designs.

Artist Jacqui Grace encouraged Just Cards Direct to launch her ‘big idea’ at CRE 2016.

‘We weren’t prepared for such a positive response,’ said Just Cards’ Anne Horrobin. ‘We have received a steady flow of inspiring stories as people shared how they have used the books in exciting ways, to support various ministries. Changing the format of the designs has also meant new creative options for groups, outreach initiatives and “bite-size” colouring products for those keen to try it out.’

One church minister in Jersey began inviting busy families into his church to colour in a poster together – initiating unexpected conversations about life, relationships and faith. For many living with illness or disability, Christian colouring posters and bookmarks have helped trigger powerful breakthroughs in communication with carers or family and friends.

‘God is using the simple art of colouring to draw together people from all walks of life – and to him,’ explained Anne. ‘At CRE you will hear how to use colouring resources to equip and encourage others. And If you’re looking for cards and gifts that will really stand out this Christmas, have a look through our beautiful new range of cards, mugs and coasters.’

• Just Cards Direct are on Stand FC5 at CRE 2017

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ByDave Hall

Margaret’s mission: to see modern pilgrims step out in style

Pilgrimages are making a comeback in the UK – and one CRE 2017 exhibitor has taken up the challenge of producing footwear to protect thousands of aching feet!

Margaret Wylie, of Holy Socks, will launch Pilgrim Socks at Sandown Park, using a design based on the view from St Ninian’s Cave, near Whithorn in Galloway. St Ninian, Scotland’s first saint, is said to have used the sea cave as a retreat – and Margaret’s creations celebrate the growing number of people taking one of several pilgrimage routes in Scotland.

The first, St Cuthbert’s Way, links the 7th century saint at Melrose and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in a 62.5-mile walk. The Borders Abbeys Way is a 64.5-mile circular route from the 12th century Kelso Abbey, taking in the sites of four other abbeys. The newest route is the 72-mile Forth to Farne walk from North Berwick to Lindisfarne.

Holy Socks

These pilgrimages, which can be taken in short stages, necessitate a good pair of socks inside the walker’s boots. Margaret has stepped in to provide that support – and a spiritual tone to every journey.

‘I picked St Ninian’s cave because Bede wrote how, long before the time of Columba, a holy man named Nynia, born among the British people, preached the Christian faith in Scotland,’ said Margaret. She also uses Psalm 84:5 as an apt message accompanying the socks – ‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.’

• Holy Socks are on Stand 60 at CRE 2017

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ByDave Hall

CLC offers CRE visitors six of the best

Visit the CLC Bookshop at CRE 2017 and pick up one of six free books – including two that will make excellent additions to a Christmas stocking or two.

The Glory of Christmas is a classic collection of stories with the true spirit of Christmas in mind, by authors Max Lucado, Charles Swindoll, Anne Graham Lotz and Henry and Richard Blackaby.

My Merry Christmas is a rhyming story by Sally Lloyd-Jones, best-selling author of The Jesus Storybook Bible. My Merry Christmas helps children relate favourite holiday symbols – twinkling lights, angels, stars – to the true story of Christmas.

Or choose from four other books:

• Sing! by the Keith & Kristyn Getty (co-songwriters with Stuart Townend)
• Living Faith by Helen Roseveare
• Choose Love by Stormie Omartian
• The Monster Within by Brian Greenaway (ex-Hells Angel)

CLC is an international organisation committed to the distribution of the Bible, Christian books and a variety of Christian media. The organisation was founded in England in 1941 and today has its international HQ in Sheffield.

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ByDave Hall

Silver Servers launched to bridge generation gap

As elderly people get more confident with computers, an 83-year-old will launch Silver Servers at CRE 2017 – encouraging grandparents to join their grandchildren in online Bible study.

Bert Gray launched the first Postal Bible School in 1958 with his wife, Wendy, when they were missionaries in Ireland. That vision caught on and they established Bible Educational Services to provide lessons and resources for others to run independent Postal Bible Schools.

‘We adapted a course used abroad and created a product which has proved very successful,’ said Bert. There are now 17 schools in Ireland and the UK with thousands of children getting lessons each month.

BES UK was established 16 years ago when the couple moved to Cardiff. It now has partner organisations in more than 60 countries working in about 40 languages with up to three million children involved.

The couple’s latest venture is a play on ‘silver surfers’, used to describe older Internet users. It will enable grandparents to teach their families and other children using a simple lesson programme.

‘With something like 15 million people in the UK aged over 50 regularly using the Internet and 95 per cent of UK children no longer attending a Sunday school, the new website provides an ideal platform for the two age groups to learn Bible truths together,’ said Bert. ‘Silver servers will be particularly useful for children to do a regular or occasional lesson encouraged by parents or grandparents.’

The website will be overseen by the couple’s grandson, Steve McDonald, who operates a website design company and has been designing lessons and administering the BES website for some years.

‘All are welcome to our two stands at CRE 2017, to catch the vision,’ added Bert.

• The couple would be delighted for volunteers to help them on the stands at Sandown Park. Contact Bert here.

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ByCRE

Worship resource that’s easy for Sunday morning

The best single source of words and music for Sunday worship – that’s how CCLI sum up their popular SongSelect website.

‘We’ve made many improvements in response to customer feedback, with existing users providing very positive comments,’ said CCLI’s Rich Burrough. ‘The new site eschews Flash in favour of the latest HTML5 player, making it fully responsive for mobile devices. HTML5 is compatible with all the latest browsers including Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Firefox.’

SongSelect features official song resources for more than 100,000 worship songs and hymns. A subscription site, available to any church which holds a Church Copyright Licence (CCL) for the projection/reproduction of song words, SongSelect packages start from £32 a year. The site now includes thousands of multi-part vocal sheets, in addition to lyrics and chord sheets. All SongSelect subscriptions are church-based and allow unlimited access for as many people as required within the church’s music and projection/ multimedia teams.

In addition, SongSelect seamlessly integrates with a number of leading song planning and projection software packages, including OnSong, MediaShout and ProPresenter.

‘This makes song planning and delivery much easier, whether you’re preparing in advance or responding in the moment,’ added Rich. ‘Come to CRE and see it all for yourself. If you decide it’s for you, you can simply arrange a subscription and link your account to your church.’

CCLI are on Stand S8 at CRE 2017

SongSelect will one of several resources presented and discussed at Worship Alive! – a conference at CRE 2017 offering practical seminars and technical instruction for anyone leading worship in their local church (Wed 18 Oct from 2pm)

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ByCRE

Join 100 other leaders on a free tour of the Holy Land

Visit CRE 2017 and join a free, seven-day tour of the Holy Land!

That’s the offer for up to 100 visitors to CRE 2017.

‘We invite any minister, pastor or priest who heads up a congregation to come to our stand and provide us with their contact details,’ said Harold Darefsky of United European Airlines Tours. ‘This isn’t a competition! We will then simply invite 100 to join one of our scheduled Holy Land pilgrimages, with the condition that, if they are satisfied with the tour, they will return with a group.

‘All those invited will have to do is pay for their flight to Ben Gurion Tel Aviv airport in Israel. Hotel accommodation, in ensuite rooms, and all travel by modern coach in the Holy Land will be free of charge.’

Places visited will include Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Qumran, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. 

‘We have our own tour manager with all our groups,’ explained Harold. ‘We do not contract an Israel tour operator to do the work for us. We are our own tour operator with our own high standards. The exhilaration you feel when walking on those ancient paths is indescribable. Join us as we visit the holy sites and enjoy the communion of pilgrims from all the world.’

United European Airlines Tours are on Stand S95 at CRE 2017

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ByCRE

A chapter a day: Bible reading is ‘a marathon not a sprint’

Reading the Bible should be seen as a marathon – not a sprint.

That’s the the thinking behind Sacred, a new Bible study scheme exhibited at CRE 2017, taking readers through the whole of scripture in 40 months.

‘SACRED stands for Simply A Chapter Read Each Day – and that is exactly what you do,’ explained creator Phil Moon. ‘It’s God’s word, so it’s worth taking the time to read it all. So far around 500 people have embarked on the course and found it very, very helpful – particularly those who’ve never previously read the Bible.’

Individual books are read from start to finish but the scheme moves regularly between Old and New Testaments and different genres of literature – maintaining variety and keeping the reader’s interest. Each day a page of notes offers theological insights, stories, illustrations and application ideas. The notes are published in six volumes and resources to accompany monthly home groups are available free-of-charge.

One truck driver told Phil Moon: ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart for Sacred. I have never read a book through before. Now I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover. It has changed my life.’

Sacred can be found on S59 at CRE 2017

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ByCRE

It is a thing most wonderful: Messy Church does science at CRE

Introducing the wonder of our world to children, parents and carers is the idea behind Messy Church does Science – featured on all three days of a major conference at CRE 2017.


David Gregory, senior minister at Croxley Green Baptist Church, will show how simple experiments can help children, parents and carers enjoy science and find faith. 


At Croxley Green, ‘Dr Dave’, who will serve as Baptist Union president in 2018-19, helps lead the Messy Science Lab and has edited a new resource Messy Church Does Science. A recent Messy Science afternoon event at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory was so heavily subscribed that a morning session had to be added.

Messy Church founder and team leader, Lucy Moore said, ‘We’ve enjoyed three Messy Church Does Science Roadshows in Cheltenham, Ely Cathedral and at the Rutherford-Appleton Lab and we’ve seen at each how one excited families are by the opportunity to do hands-on science in a Messy Church setting. It’s a great way to get families together to have fun, ask questions about science and faith,, become intrigued by the world around us and by the God who made the world.’

Using hands-on activities to explore Bible stories, Messy Church is church for people who don’t do church – providing a ‘safe’ space to encounter the Christian faith. 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


Ways forward with discipleship in a Messy Church context that challenge any form of church to do discipleship better – plus a chance to try out Messy Church does Science activities.



Wed 18 Oct 11am – Theology from the Mess


Being Messy, Being Church: a forum for all who are interested in the wider learning and implications of Messy Church – including ecclesiology, theology, mission and discipleship – and how this applies to the whole of church.



Thu 19 Oct 11am – The Big Messy Meet-Up


An update of the latest Messy projects, with particular reference to discipleship and vintage pilots, plus a final opportunity to try out Messy Science.



There is no extra charge for attending the Messy Church conference at CRE and no need to pre-register for it, though you are advised to arrive early to be sure of a seat.


Messy Church Does Science activity photos © The Bible Reading Fellowship on Flickr licensed under CC2.0

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ByCRE

Cindy’s Sofa: meet some legends at lunchtime

The sultan of slide guitar and the grandfather of global mission are among the special guests on Cindy’s Sofa at CRE 2017.

‘Musician Bryn Haworth and missionary George Verwer are already legends and, with several others, we’ll spend lunchtime at CRE finding out what motivates and inspires them,’ said Rev Cindy Kent, host of Cindy’s Sofa.

Cindy, presented with an MBE for services to religious broadcasting in 2016, is ‘busier than ever’ since officially retiring. She will take up a three-day residency in Cindy’s Bar at CRE where her lunchtime guests will also include Irish singer and former MEP Dana, comedian and script-writer Paul Kerensa, author and cartoonist Simon Jenkins, pop and opera singer Jonathan Veira and author and former special envoy Terry Waite. Resident musical duo Clif and Marie will warm up proceedings each day.

‘From hymn books to hassocks, pews to puppets, I love CRE!’ she said. ‘And, by popular demand, Cindy’s Bar will be where you’ll find writers, musicians, poets, authors, evangelists – all trying to cram onto my sofa for a chat. Come and join me each day as I try, in vain, to keep full control of proceedings!’

Cindy’s Sofa takes place each day at CRE 2017 from 1pm in the original Cindy’s Bar

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Book your tickets here for #CRE2017 today and save at least 50% on day‑of‑entry admission.

CRE 2017 opening hours:
Tue 17 and Wed 18 Oct, 10am-5pm
Thu 19 Oct, 10am-4.30pm