Monthly Archive October 2019

Dave HallByDave Hall

Glad tidings! Christmas Comms Clinic launched at CRE

If you’re tired of doing the same thing every Christmas at your church, the first-ever CRE Christmas Comms Clinic is for you!

CPO, who have supported churches with communications for more than 60 years, are offering visitors a free 20-minute consultation with a member of their friendly and knowledgeable team at CRE National 2019.

‘Your church has a hugely exciting piece of news to share,’ said CPO’s Jo Swinney. ‘We want to help you be the best at welcoming visitors to hear the Christmas message.’

Many churches are scared to change what they have always done because of limited time and budgets – but CPO do not believe these are barriers to communicating well. 

‘What you want to do with your 20-minute consultation is up to you,’ said Jo. ‘We recommend you bring along examples of previous Christmas outreach resources, ideas for this year, or if you are super organised, your design concepts. Whether you want to talk about printed resources, your website or digital resources as a whole, we’ll be delighted to help you plan for this pivotal time of the year.’

There are only 36 consultations available over the three days of CRE National 2019. If you are interested in meeting with our team please email CPO and they will let you know what slots are available. 

‘To avoid disappointment, get in touch as soon as possible as these will be allocated on a first come, first served basis,’ said Jo.

• The Christmas Comms Clinic is on stands E1/E2 at CRE National 2019
• CPO are on stand S81 at CRE National 2019

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Ecclesiastical architecture: time we understood its subliminal messages

There is a liturgy behind gargoyles, grotesques and gothic flying buttresses – do we really understand the agenda in the ecclesiastical architecture we admire and cherish?

That will be Dr Sanjee Perera’s question to visitors at the first-ever Ladies’ Day (12pm, Thu 17 Oct) at CRE National 2019.

‘Power and its values are celebrated throughout our historic church buildings,’ she will contend. ‘Feudalism, monarchy and elitism are intermingled with raptures of the divine. Concepts of womanhood and beauty are splashed on glass and masonry – as virtuous, demure, chaste, pale, gentle and genteel.’

Dr Perera, a research fellow in Cognitive Ecclesiology at the University of Birmingham, Philosophy, Theology and Religion department, will call for a fresh understanding of the history of our churches, country and culture. 

‘The fabric of a church, whether it is the pews, rood screens, altar, font, all speak to a liturgy – the story of our salvation. It is a door to the divine, it is an invitation. The pews say: “Come sit with us, lay down your burden and hear the good news”. The table says: “Come eat together as a family”. The font tells us we are washed clean.’

Dr Perera will explore the whitewashed cognitive impressions, values and meta-narratives that are subliminally imposed on us, – when we are on our knees, at our most vulnerable – and how these shape the values of a congregation’s collective conscious. She will take CRE visitors on a journey ‘through Victorian stained glass and alabaster angels in verdant graveyards’, to examine how goodness, holiness, beauty and virtue became synonymous with whiteness, and how this becomes a double burden for women and minority ethnic Christians.

In a programme of special presentations and seminars, Ladies’ Day at CRE will subvert the racecourse stereotype of ‘big hair and bling’ and, instead, highlight the contributions of women in church and society, especially those who have been forgotten or neglected.

The Bishop of Dorking, Right Rev Jo Bailey Wells, will speak on women in leadership. Project 3:28’s Natalie Collins, will speak on sexism and Rachel Gardner, director of Youthscape, will offer a new vision for women and inspire visitors to see that vision realised in our churches, communities and families.

• See the Ladies’ Day schedule here

Who’s exhibiting at CRE National 2019?
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Dave HallByDave Hall

Life-saving clinic that beats the blockade

With 80 per cent of the population relying on international assistance, a Well Baby Clinic is a life-saver for the children of Gaza. 

One of Embrace the Middle East’s partners, the clinic supports children up to the age of four offering them free check-ups and providing their parents with education about health and nutrition. 

The blockade of Gaza means the supply of medication is intermittent and often runs out. The mother of one young child, Aida*, admits the consistency of the clinic is a relief. After her first birthday, Aida began to lose weight and her energy levels dropped. 

‘Before treatment at the clinic, my child was always sick, her face was pale yellow and she refused food,’ said her mother. ‘I was ignorant about quality of different food. The nurse told me to feed my children food rich in iron.’

Aida is healthy now thanks to the Well Baby Clinic but the lack of availability of quality foods and sanitation means there are many other children who are suffering from poor health. In the first six months of 2019, Well Baby Clinics treated 11,770 poorly children.

‘We are proud to support such a high-quality service that is enabling a brighter future for the children of Gaza,’ said Embrace the Middle East’s events manager Kerensa McCollough.

• Embrace the Middle East are on stand S151at CRE National 2019

Names have been changed to protect the identity of the beneficiaries

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Time to glimpse Jesus through Eastern eyes

When Ethiopian pilgrims could no longer make the treacherous journey to Jerusalem, they built Jerusalem in Lalibela – with churches hewn out of rock.

And now a first-time exhibitor at CRE National 2019, Tadele Travel, will be at Sandown Park to tell visitors about two pilgrimages to this area of startling imagination and beauty.

‘It is not until you catch a glimpse of Jesus through eastern eyes that it dawns on you just how much more there is to following him. Ethiopia is a place that changes you,’ explained Andrew Proud, former Bishop of Reading and previously area bishop for the Horn of Africa in the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.‘We want people who will return, not only having fallen in love with Ethiopia, her people and her faith, but with their own faith refreshed.’

Christianity arrived in Ethiopia in the third century, but it has been a Bible land for far longer. Surrounded by mountains and difficult terrain to the north, east and west, Ethiopian Christianity is untouched by the Enlightenment, and only latterly by waves of reformation and revival. Forty-five per cent of her people are Ethiopian Orthodox, oriental orthodox, shaped by Edessa and Alexandria, rather than Constantinople or Rome.

Girma Tadele grew up in Lalibela, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. He has taken people to the holy sites for years. Together, he and Andrew lead groups there on pilgrimage. 

‘We love to go because each time we see Christ in a new way,’ said Andrew. ‘We are still changed by the place, and others are changed, too.’

Next year two pilgrimages are planned by Tadele Travel.

‘There is still room on both,’ said Andrew. ‘Join us. We’d love you to share the journey.’

• Tadele Travel are stand S79a at CRE National 2019

Photo: Richard Hancock LRPS

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Cashless collections? It’s on the cards (and smartphones)

The end of cash-only collections is nigh – thanks to two companies at CRE National 2019.

Givt, from Holland, will demonstrate state-of-the-art technology that allows worshippers’ smartphones to pick up a signal from a beacon placed in a collection plate. 

‘As soon as the user indicates that he wants to give, the smartphone searches for the signal,’ explains Givt director Sjoerd van Oort. ‘The giver simply moves his smartphone along the collection device and indicates how much he has chosen to donate.’

Most importantly, no-one knows who has given and how much. 

‘We believe that giving is fundamentally different from paying,’ says Sjoerd. ‘With Givt, the donor remains completely anonymous to the collecting organisation.’

Following the company’s debut at CRE National 2018, 17 churches in the UK began piloting Givt, among them Gas Street in Birmingham and the parish church of Walton-on-Thames. 

‘In the Netherlands people give much more with our solution than with cash,’ says Sjoerd. ‘We are finding it to be true in the UK as well.’

This year, the company is offering churches an early bird special. 

‘Those that adopt our solution at CRE will not be charged for any use until the end of the year,’ says Sjoerd. ‘They will also receive a very special reward. Come to the Givt stand to find out more!’

Meanwhile, UK-based Tubular Systems Ltd will display a kiosk which sits permanently in a church, accepting contactless donations but also credit and debit cards. The seven-inch touchscreen with customisable display graphics, can be personalised for any church. Elegant and eye-catching, the kiosk fits neatly into church buildings and can be moved to fund-raising events outside the church. 

‘Installation is super fast as communication is taken care of with a built-in SIM Card,’ explained Tubular Systems’ Kevin Egglesden. ‘You can also customise donation amounts, e.g £5, £10, £20 and £30. We are very proud knowing that our kiosk will soon be helping local churches generate donations for the many excellent activities in which they are involved.’ 

• Givt are on stand S110 at CRE National 2019
• Tubular Systems Ltd are on stand B9 at CRE National 2019

Who’s exhibiting at CRE National 2019?
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