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Dave HallByDave Hall

Post-Brexit Britain: Archbishop of York welcomes CRE seminar

A seminar where churches will come together to try and find a way forward through the Brexit crisis, has been welcomed by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Hosted by Andy Flannagan of Christians in Politics, the seminar (CRE North, Event City, Manchester, 12pm, Wed 13 Mar) will ask whether or not the church is in part responsible for the current situation.

‘Have we critiqued from the sidelines instead of getting on the political pitch?’ said Flannagan. ‘Whatever the situation on March 29th we need to move forward positively. We will discuss what role churches can play in bridging the cultural divide and bring communities together again.’

Archbishop John, who is asking people to say a special prayer three times a day in light of the current political crisis, has welcomed the initiative.

‘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.’

The Archbishop’s Prayer

God of eternal love and power,
Save our Parliamentary Democracy;
Protect the High Court of Parliament and all its members
From partiality and prejudice;
That they may walk humbly the path of kindness, justice and mercy.
Give them wisdom, insight and a concern for the common good.
The weight of their calling is too much to bear in their own strength,
Therefore we pray earnestly, Father,
send them help from your Holy Place, and be their tower of strength.
Lord, graciously hear us. Amen.

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Days of shuffling sheet music are over

The days of shuffling sheet music during the Lord’s Prayer are over – thanks to Power Music Software Ltd.

Songs or hymns can be set up silently, effortlessly, on ipad or tablet, often at the touch of a foot-controlled switch. The change has had a large impact among musicians and is also environmentally friendly with the amount of sheet music copied in churches reduced significantly.

Gordon Cameron, director of Cambron Software, makers of Power Music, said: ‘When we first demonstrated our equipment we were told it would not catch on but more and more musicians are using it.’

Its popularity proved frustrating for a number of older musicians whose eyes can’t catch the notes quick enough on an ipad.

‘However, they are delighted with the larger screens – from 22 to 27 inches – which we now provide,’ continued Gordon, who began the company 10 years ago.

And a recent collaboration with WorshipReady.com – an American website – has resulted in access to high-quality chord sheets.

‘This new initiative gives users access to more than 1,000 of the highest-quality chord sheets with new sheets added daily,’ said Gordon. ‘This save musicians time creating and editing chord sheets or importing them from other sources. We’ll show you how at CRE North!’

• Cambron Software offering Power Music Software are on stand A40 at CRE North

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Have a hand in helping world’s poorest people

It’s simple, communal and creates a high nutrition resource to feed some of the poorest children in the world.

Hand to Hand food packing, which comes to CRE for the first time in March, has proved to be a great way to engage local communities in a practical social justice project.

Hosted by churches, schools and community groups, the activity entails teams 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.

There will be several opportunities to try Hand to Hand food packing at CRE North. For more details on joining a team at the exhibition, click here.

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 UK’s mission is to reduce world hunger through feeding programmes and provide humanitarian aid to support education and implement sustainable farming initiatives. The organisation works worldwide to feed more than 250,000 children in 150 schools in 20 developing countries. As part of the provision the organisation supports pastors and church leaders in presenting the gospel to families and children around the world.

‘Since 2010, from Leicestershire, we have supplied over nine million meals and more than 100 containers of aid to some of the world’s most vulnerable children and their families,’ said Gwyn Williams. ‘We invite you to find out more about our mission at CRE.’

• Feed The Hungry – Hand to Hand are on stand P63 at CRE North

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Clergy wife turns financial juggling into an art

Twenty-five years of juggling finances for clergy – and being married to one – has given Anne Wray a unique perspective on life.

‘Clergy need to ensure there is a reasonable pension pot and will probably have to buy their own home late in life,’ said Anne, who launched Anne Wray IFA specifically to help sort out financial problems faced by clergy of most denominations.

For a quarter of a century she has helped them ride smoothly over recessions, inflation and stock market crashes – and anticipates surmounting whatever problems Brexit brings.

‘The UK will sign a declaration on March 29 but so far we have no indication what might be involved,’ she admitted. ‘However, our experience over the years has helped us understand how change might be managed and put clients’ minds at rest (as far as possible!) in changing and sometimes challenging, times.’

Anne worked for various insurance companies after leaving school. Following a spell with Methodist Insurance, she moved on to establish her own business, Anne Wray IFA, in 1994. It has rapidly become a pioneer and leader in advising clergy and the Christian community on investments, pensions, mortgages, taxation and other personal financial matters.

Anne Wray IFA has developed into a family business. Daughter Melanie is also an adviser and Thomas, Anne’s son, looks after the administration and office. Two miniature schnauzers, Bill and Ben, alert staff when people approach the door!

‘We are looking forward to continuing our support of existing clients at CRE North and inviting and welcoming new ones as they come face-to-face with sometimes confusing financial issues,’ she said.

• Anne Wray is on stand D30 at CRE North

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Safeguarding tool launched that ‘challenges status quo’

A new audit tool has been launched to help UK-based charities strengthen safeguarding arrangements overseas.

The tool, developed by CRE North exhibitor thirtyone:eight, is the first of its kind and comes as a response to requests from organisations wanting support in developing safeguarding arrangements and those of overseas partners.

The event followed the Department for International Development (DfID) Safeguarding Summit held in October 2018 in response to revelations of safeguarding failures within the international aid sector.

Karen Eakins (pictured), head of consultancy at thirtyone:eight, said: ‘We are receiving increasing numbers of requests for help within the challenging area of international safeguarding.

‘“Lament” is a word in the Bible which refers to recognising suffering and calling out to God to create change. By lamenting we are challenging the status quo and speaking out for change even where it is seen as culturally unacceptable.’

The audit tool is built around seven core principles which include organisational culture; policy and procedural standards; recruiting safely; training and development; safer working; recognising, responding and reporting concerns; and working with overseas partners. It follows a three-stage process of reviewing the arrangements of the UK organisation, dialogue with the overseas partner organisations and the formulation of an action plan.

It is available at no cost and sits within thirtyone:eight’s range of resources.

• thirtyone:eight are on stand A27 at CRE North

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Dave HallByDave Hall

New woodland centre sustains legacy of Watchman Nee

A new Christian conference and training centre, inspired by the works of classic authors Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, is under construction in outer London.

The Amana Trust, owners of a centre near Romford and a bookshop in central London for many years, have purchased a 17-acre woodland site within the M25 and 10 minutes from the Central line tube station. Easily accessible but removed from the busyness of London, the centre will be available for groups of up to 300 people in stylish wooden cabins, most with ensuite bedrooms and several with meeting spaces.

The new centre, and Watchman’s Nee’s legacy, will the focus of a seminar at CRE North.

Watchman Nee’s classics include The Normal Christian Life and The Spiritual Man. In addition, the complete works of Watchman Nee comprises a mostly unknown 62 volumes. More than 15,000 pages of Watchman Nee’s ministry was continued by his closest co-worker, Witness Lee, whose ministry was even more extensive.

The Amana Trust endeavours to help believers grow in the Christian faith, both personally and in groups. Their events include weekend retreats, week-long training and a two-year, full-time residential course.

• The Amana Trust are on stand C22 at CRE North

• Edward Diggines and Stephen Tait of the Amana Trust will speak on The enduring legacy of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee at CRE North (11am, Thu 14 Mar)

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Dave HallByDave Hall

How Sophie saved with Silley – and backed the kids of Kibera

The electric snake had claimed dozens of ‘lives’ – but had no answer for the dextrous skills of one CRE visitor.

Sophie Wellbelove took on the Save With Silley Challenge at CRE 2018, reaching the end of the snake without getting ‘electrocuted’ – in just eight seconds.

‘It was an incredibly quick time and the best of the week,’ said Andrew Silley, who specialises in energy procurement, management and consumption reduction for churches and individuals. ‘We were delighted to send £100 to the Turning Point Trust on Sophie’s behalf!’ The trust works with children in Kibera, a vast slum in Nairobi, Kenya where 7,000 children are out of school due to poverty. The trust returns children to school, providing quality education and promoting literacy in the community. 

As an energy professional who understands the complexities of the industry, Andrew reviews expenditure and suggests ways we can all make savings.

‘There’s really nothing to do other than decide if you want to save money,’ he said. ‘And there’s no charge for my services. The churches and charities I work with have saved between five and 56 per cent on their energy bills! In fact, I am so confident of finding you the best deal, I guarantee to beat the renewal offer of your current supplier (as detailed in your initial renewal offer letter) or I will make a donation of £75 to the charity of your choice.’

Among the charities Andrew currently supports is The Message, based in Manchester.

‘All the more reason to pay me a visit at Event City!’ said Andrew.

• Andrew Silley is on stand C18 at CRE North

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Let professional HR release your leaders to lead

Churches aren’t immune from problems with employees and should consider bringing in trained Human Resources professionals to help navigate difficult situations.

That’s the view of Nicci Birley, director of CRE North exhibitor Cornerstone Resources Ltd.

‘Church leaders are not only required to provide spiritual leadership but have to act as CEO of a small charity,’ she said. ‘Maybe someone isn’t performing, or money needs to be saved by making an employee redundant. It’s during these difficult times that the emotional as well as financial cost can be extremely high.’

Having someone you can rely on and trust who is not only trained in managing people issues but also a Christian can be invaluable, believes Nicci, founder of Cornerstone Resources Limited, an independent HR organisation.

‘In a Christian setting, we know how important relationships are and even when the right decision is to part company with someone, you’ll want to ensure where possible that the relationship doesn’t break down because of it,’ she said. ‘With many years of experience, not only in the professional HR world but also in churches and charities, we bring an understanding of church life and leadership and work closely with clients to understand their culture and vision – so we can find the right solution for all concerned.’

• Cornerstone Resources Ltd are on stand D9 (sharing with Phasic)

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Preachers before Paul: why we should celebrate the very first Christian missionaries

Saint Paul and the ‘big’ missionaries grab the headlines but we can learn a lot from the less-celebrated apostles in Acts.

‘We need to think carefully about our audiences,’ maintains Mike Penny, founder of the Open Bible Trust. ‘Why didn’t the apostle Peter go to any Gentiles, other than Cornelius? Should we be as selective in whom we witness to? Philip seemed to be doing a good job in Samaria so why did he need help from Peter and John? And taking principles from these apostles, what help do we need?’

In his seminar at CRE North, Mike will also consider the speech of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

‘We need to ask where he went wrong and learn from him,’ said Mike. ‘And who formed the churches in Rome, Spain and Egypt? Did some of the 3,000 saved on the day of Pentecost take the message back to their own cities? We should do likewise. There is no need to go abroad today to reach people for Christ.’

Looking for that ‘missing something’ between deep theology and daily reading notes sparked the Open Bible Trust into being.

‘A group of us set out in the 1980s to encourage people to widen their interest in the whole Bible,’ said Mike. The newly-formed trust created a bi-monthly magazine, Reach, which offered a number of Bible studies and opened up biblical books in an easy-to-understand manner. Several more publications followed. A former director of maths and business studies, Michael spent nine years as the minister of a church in America. Now 75, his vision has not dimmed and his seminars at CRE are usually oversubscribed.

• The Open Bible Trust are on stand A15 at CRE North

• Mike Penny will speak on Missionaries before Paul (12pm, Thu 14 Mar)

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Introducing Mr and Mrs Looyah (and their son Hal)

A team of award-winning programme makers and business executives have come together to launch a new discipleship resource called Little Worship Company.
 
Their range of products will help children and grown-ups discover God together, through easy to use DVDs, devotionals and a digital App called ‘The Little Worship Company World’. Aimed at 0 to 6-year-olds, the interactive resources are based on a curriculum suitable for churches and schools.
 
‘Each DVD is hosted by Hal and his parents Mr and Mrs Looyah!’ explains Jo Sunderland of Wonderborn Studios, makers of the series. ‘The Looyahs take children through a journey of worship and scripture, helping them explore God and their identity in him, grounded in biblical truths.’
 
Grown-ups are invited to make use of an all-age devotional, with activities and crafts for adults and children, helping them both grow in faith together. The App also offers prayers and songs.

Led by Toby Hughes, a former technology and media entrepreneur, the Wonderborn team is made up of an advisory panel, expert consultants and in-house development, production, digital and marketing teams.

• Little Worship Company will be on stand C32 at CRE North

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Save the date for CRE National 2019!
Join us at Sandown Park
15-17 October 2019