Monthly Archive July 2017


The Bible: all set to become cool on the curriculum

First-time exhibitors Museum of the Bible and RE Today magazine will be at CRE2017 to present the latest version of their groundbreaking Augmented Reality Bible Curriculum for schools. 

Committed to making the Bible accessible to today’s generation, Museum of the Bible will show visitors how churches of all kinds can utilise smart phones and tablets to teach the stories of both Old and New Testaments to people of all ages.

At a seminar on the first day of CRE2017 (3pm, Tue 17 Oct), Museum of the Bible’s Mark Markiewicz and Julia Diamond-Conway, RE Today’s national adviser, will outline how technology is set to revolutionise RE in schools. 

‘Visitors will also have an opportunity to see and use it for themselves,’ explains Mark, ‘and discover how it can be used in their schools and churches.’

As well as creating the most technologically-advanced museum in the world, opening in Washington DC in November 2017, Museum of the Bible has displayed artefacts and academic resources in cities around the world, including Vatican City’s Braccio di Carlo Magno and the Havana Cathedral in Havana, Cuba. Plans are already well advanced to bring a similar museum to central London.

Click here to watch a demonstration of the Augmented Reality Bible Curriculum in a US high school.

Museum of the Bible are on Stand 30 and RE Today on Stand 31 at CRE 2017.


How the mitres have fallen – but it’s not the end of colourful clergy

Mitres, stoles, capes and chasubles – the traditional clothing of Church of England clergy – may disappear from churches services after the Church of England voted last week to allow ministers to ‘wear what they want’.

It’s proved a difficult time for ecclesiastical designer Juliet Hemingray, a long-time CRE exhibitor, who has led the way in not only adding colour to vestments but, through her designs, making allusions to biblical narratives.

‘They are visual aids,’ she explains, ‘and do not form a barrier between wearer and observer. The subject matter on the stole or scarf, for example, can start helpful conversations.’

Juliet’s business began in 1979 when a close friend asked her to decorate a plain black preaching scarf with scenes that would appeal to children.

‘Orders poured in for bespoke designs reflecting the faith of customers,’ she recalls. ‘I have created 13 jobs and enabled more than 30,000 people to portray the Gospel in a way that is personal and meaningful. One friend in Tennessee told me he couldn’t remember any sermons from his early church life but recalled symbols on vestments and hangings. They meant a great deal to him.’

Juliet believes there is room for both options – vestments or more informal clothing.

‘My choice is obviously the first, purely from a Gospel-preaching standpoint,’ she says. ‘But you should make the most of whatever you are wearing and when you are not speaking, let the garment speak!’

Her view was reflected at two recent meetings in Lancashire. More than 4,000 schoolchildren gathered at Ewood Park, the home of Blackburn Rovers, for a talk given by the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North. Dramatically, he revealed an Arsenal shirt under his vestments, using the long-standing rivalry between Division One team Blackburn and Premier League Burnley FC to discuss the importance of loyalty.

Only a week before Canon Mark Jones, vicar of St Leonard’s Church in nearby Padiham, wore a Queen’s Park Rangers’ shirt – the team he supports – in front of 200 children from the local primary school. He wore it to illustrate how belonging to and supporting a child is an important part of any christening service. He ‘baptised’ a baby doll for two seven-year-old pupils.

In an area in which some members of the clergy have ignored the rulings and worn no clerical identification or the minimum for some time, the new pronouncement gives everyone the opportunity to be free and easy on some social occasions and add colour and pomp on others – without causing offence. It may even offer those ‘wearing parables’ to speak clearly to their congregation without uttering a word.

Step forward, Juliet!

David Hall

Juliet will be on Stand S129 at CRE 2017


So a comedian walks into CRE 2017

Scrooge, Santa, Slade and a snoozing Saviour are all part of a fun and forgotten history of Christmas, to be presented at CRE2017 by award-winning comedian Paul Kerensa.

A practising comedian and writer for more than 15 years, Paul admits he has been ‘practising as a Christian for a little longer.’ He’s become the BBC’s go-to guy for gagging up new sitcoms, helping writing teams win Best New Sitcom for Miranda at the British Comedy Awards and Best Sitcom for Not Going Out at the Royal Television Society Awards. More recently, he has written for Chris Evans’ Top Gear.
His new book, available at CRE in October, will be ‘a new appreciation of the complicated relationship between the Church and the festival of Christmas.’ In it he explains how Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! and The Christmas Song were both written in a sweltering summer heatwave and that King Herod had a wife called Doris. Also, according to ‘a reliable legend’, St Nicholas was the first to use an automatic door.

Introducing the book at CRE, Paul’s talk will be packed full of comic moments, visuals and even music.

‘It may only be October,’ says Paul, ‘but the shops have decided Christmas starts in September, so at least we’ll be feeling festive in a churchly way.’

He’s a regular at festivals such as Spring Harvest, New Wine and Greenbelt where he brings his trademark Powerpoint presentations full of silliness, songs and spoof gameshows such as Biblankety Biblank and Catchpharisee.
‘I’ve always loved being among fellow believers. Mine is a potentially lonely job in an industry not known for its sympathy towards people of faith,’ he says. ‘CRE is a great chance to equip us with what we need to get our jobs done and make a difference in this world. I’m always delighted to be part of it. I come away used as a resource, but also resourced myself!’
Paul Kerensa will speak at CRE2017 at 2pm on Tue 17 Oct. He will also be a special guest of Rev Cindy Kent MBE, at lunchtime in Cindy’s Bar.


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


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.