Monthly Archive February 2020

Dave HallByDave Hall

Why cancer won’t stop Deborah strutting her stuff

Being diagnosed with peritoneal cancer will not stop one determined lady from strutting her stuff as a model next week.

Rev Deborah Sandercock, priest-in-charge at St. Margaret’s and St. George’s in Prestwich, Manchester, will join up to a dozen other clerics for Clergy on the Catwalk, a special presentation of ecclesiastical clothing at CRE Midlands (11am, Wed 4 Mar).

‘The cancer has involved intensive treatment and I have lost my hair twice,’ said Deborah. ‘I went from blonde/fair to black, then no hair at all. One of the reasons for being involved in the catwalk is to show it is possible to live a full life with cancer.

‘Physical and emotional changes in the body can result in diminishing self-esteem, so it is important to demonstrate you are the same person inside. As a vicar, I want to be easily recognisable for my role but I also want to bring brightness, colour and hope, especially to those living with the disease. My congregation never know what hat, hair colour or wig I am going to be wearing – but by doing so I am allowing people to talk about it and my faith and role as vicar.’

A wide variety of formal and informal ecclesiastical clothing will be displayed on the catwalk by leading ecclesiastical textile designers like Hayes and Finch, Collared clergywear, Rev Naomi Nixon from Coventry and Lottie’s Eco from Stanford Bridge, Worcester, who make clergy clothing out of biodegradable bamboo.

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
Book tickets for CRE Midlands 2020

Dave HallByDave Hall

Be quids in on World Book Day (Thursday 5 March)

World Book Day is next Thursday 5 March and the CLC Bookshop at CRE Midlands is joining in by offering a range of books for children and adults at just £1 each. 

A registered charity, World Book Day is on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and, most importantly, reading. It’s the biggest event of its kind and will be marked in over 100 countries.

‘Don’t miss out on this opportunity for some great bargains, both for yourself and for others,’ said CLC’s Daryl Wearring.

Research shows that parents reading with their children for as little as 10 minutes a day can make a significant difference to the child’s achievement levels and shared reading has the single biggest impact on a child’s independent reading habits.

That’s why World Book Day is calling on everyone in the UK and Ireland to share stories for 10 minutes a day in schools, libraries, bookshops and at home.

• The CLC Bookshop is on stand at CRE Midlands 2020

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
Book tickets for CRE Midlands 2020

Dave HallByDave Hall

Another day, another Collared

It began over supper with simple ideas sketched on napkins but soon their designs were featured on the One Show, Songs of Praise and in Vogue USA.

Revd Sandra Sykes and Sarah Walden, the team behind Collared Clergywear, are a mother and daughter who never imagined they would enter the world of clergy fashion.

‘After I was ordained, I shared with Sarah my dismay and frustration at the lack of choice, comfort and style in female clergy clothing,’ recalled Sandra. ‘So much was merely badly adapted from menswear. Women in ministry were not being truly celebrated and the clothes available highlighted that.

‘We believe that God calls us as we are and wants to help us be more fully ourselves; that ministers are called by God for who they are. Women should be able to wear clothes that, while making them recognisable as clergy, they would normally delight in wearing.’

Rev Sandra Sykes (right) at the launch of Collared at CRE National 2015

Collared, launched at CRE National 2015, is now winning plaudits all over the world.

‘We appreciate how women need to juggle ministry, work and family life,’ said Sandra, a vicar in Great Waltham, Essex. ‘We recognise the modern clergy woman has a calling to ministry as diverse and unique as each woman. She needs clothes that are practical, comfortable, yet stylish.’ 

As a small company, Collared delight in offering a personal touch.

‘Any garment can be customised individually on request,’ said Sandra. ‘There is a choice of sleeve length and pockets can be added to most items on request. Who doesn’t love pockets!’

A collection from Collared will be one of four clergywear specialists featured in Clergy on the Catwalk at CRE Midlands (11am, Wed 4 Mar).

• Collared Clergywear and Hayes and Finch are on stand P41 at CRE Midlands 2020

Dave HallByDave Hall

These boots were made for blessing

Join us and trek three peaks in three countries over six days – that’s the invitation from a Christian charity serving Eastern Europe.

Celebrating 30 years in operation, Link to Hope will launch The Balkan Three Peaks at CRE Midlands and want to recruit 15 people to join them in walking the Balkan Three Peaks – in Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo – in September 2021.

The trekkers will traverse the Western Balkans, an area where ancient tracks connect remote regions, and pass through villages, meadows, mountain peaks and woodlands, covering 100km in six days.

Graded four out of 10 in terms of difficulty, the walk is to raise funds for life-changing educational and social care projects in Eastern Europe. Established in 1991, Link to Hope has been working with poor and marginalised communities in Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Their projects involve setting up kindergartens, feeding the elderly, house rebuilding, disability projects and working and supporting orphans in the war zone in Eastern Ukraine.

‘For our thirtieth year in 2021 we want to challenge ourselves,’ said Link to Hope’s general manager Lisa Hector. ‘What could be better than trekking three peaks in three countries? We know through our work there how amazing the countryside and people are and we would really like people to join us in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are only 15 places and we think launching the anniversary trek at CRE Midlands is the perfect place to do it.’

• Link to Hope are on stand P44 at CRE Midlands 2020

Photo: Ken Spence

Dave HallByDave Hall

Beat the gremlins with Novum’s sound advice

The end of the one-man, sound-system operation in churches could be on the cards – along with dated installations which need a regular check.

An annual MOT of your church’s acoustics, along with emergency repairs and training for several volunteer operators, is part of a new package being offered by sound and vision experts Novum AV, a Tamworth-based company.

‘We are instituting silver, gold and platinum packages for sound and vision systems in any church with the option of a thorough check of the system on one, three or five-year contracts for which we make sure the system works and that any hiccups are dealt with quickly on an emergency phone call system,’ said David Sharpe, Novum’s installations manager. ‘All this will mean that churches can trust their system to be problem-free, but if unexpected problems do occur, we provide expert help to sort out the issue. We can also offer training facility in churches in which we use the particular system to help provide extra helpers or cover when the one expert is on holiday or ill.’

One of the constant cries from those who volunteer to operate the many different sound operations in churches is ‘There are gremlins in the system’.

‘Our Beat the Gremlins scheme will be on offer at Midlands CRE,’ said David, ‘where I will be delighted to talk to church representatives about how we can help.

• Novum AV are on stand C11 at CRE Midlands

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
Book tickets for CRE Midlands 2020

Dave HallByDave Hall

Franklin: Be informed before you take sides

Before taking sides in the debate about Franklin Graham we need to do our theological homework.

That will be Rev Dr David Hilborn’s challenge to visitors at next week’s CRE Midlands (4/5 Mar, Stoneleigh Park, nr Coventry).

Hilborn, principal of Moorlands College, will speak on ‘Fake theology: even more dangerous than fake news?’ (12pm, Wed 4 Mar).

‘Headlines tell us that secularisation is on the march but theology still matters and is much disputed in the public square,’ said Hilborn. ‘Debates continue about American evangelicals’ support for Donald Trump while Franklin Graham gets “no-platformed” by local UK councils. Abusive practices are exposed with alarming frequency in religious networks, but analysts diverge on whether such practices are distinctively “spiritual” or just falsely “spiritualised” forms of common bullying and manipulation.’

Rev Dr David Hilborn

Hilborn, previously principal of St John’s College, Nottingham, will recall momentous claims made following signs of local renewal that supposedly heralded national or international revival. Similarly, certain testimonies of healing anticipated a major wave of healing.

‘Biblical promises of wellbeing and prosperity get curdled into dubious financial practice and even fraud,’ he will argue. ‘Well-meaning attempts at co-operation between different faiths on peace and justice issues become fractious when interfaith prayer and worship enter the picture. So, theology still matters in the civic as well as church context.’

How do we discern authentic theology from ‘fake’ theology in a world where the line between genuine and ‘fake’ news is getting ever-more blurred? 

‘I will explore biblical answers to these questions and suggest practical ways forward for Christians today,’ said Hilborn, who will speak as part of The Study Zone at CRE Midlands. The zone gives visitors of all ages an opportunity to choose a theological learning opportunity suitable for their lifestyle. Colleges in the Study Zone include: 

* Capernwray Hall
* London School of Theology
* Cliff College
* Oak Hill
* Moorlands College
* Spurgeons College

Dave HallByDave Hall

Taste & See: New programme gets to root of eating guilt

The lives of a lot of people in our churches are secretly ruled by food.

So says Professor Deborah Lycett of Taste & See, a unique blend of fact and faith helping to bring freedom to lives ruled by food, dieting and emotional eating. 

‘Many of us feel guilty and ashamed whenever we eat or step on the scales,’ said Deborah (pictured below), who teaches in the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences at Coventry University. ‘This unhappiness makes them want to eat more and they find themselves in an endless cycle of dieting, overeating and feeling miserable. But God wants to set them free! He wants them to taste and see that he is good and that food is good, too!’

Professor Deborah Lycett

Designed with and for churches and developed out of research at the university, Taste & See, exhibiting for the first time at CRE Midlands, is a 10-session audio-video, small-group programme that anyone can run! 

‘The programme is not about dieting but learning to eat in response to our body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness, rather than in response to our emotions and what we see or smell!’ said Deborah. ‘The Christian principles of love, acceptance and freedom with responsibility fit well with this and are included in the programme.’

Scientific evidence suggests that for many people, diets are unsustainable in the long-term and yo-yo dieting is associated with a sense of failure which impacts on quality of life. Evidence also suggests that programmes which help us to become spiritually healthy, as well as physically and emotionally healthy, may play an important role in helping with eating or weight problems.

‘Lots of the evidence so far comes from America,’ said Deborah. ‘We want to find out whether this type of programme could potentially be helpful to people in the UK.

• Taste and See are on stand C14 at CRE Midlands

Dave HallByDave Hall

Buy a hamper, give one free: New food bank project launched at CRE Midlands

Buy a retail hamper from your church for £30 – and a meal hamper, comprising 15 fully-balanced meals, will be donated free to local families facing food insecurity. 

That’s the creative thinking behind Farming Food Bank, a radical new initiative launched at CRE Midlands by The Giving Stream Limited. 

‘We have the farm, butchers, chefs, equipment and expertise to produce food,’ explained Giving Stream’s Colin Kaye. ‘Churches have congregations and a local feeding programme or plans to launch one. This project links us all together – working as one.’

So how does it function?

Giving Stream install a walk-in freezer on church premises at the company’s cost, stocking it with two different products – a retail hamper, which can be bought and a free food hamper, used for donations only. Members of the church are encouraged to purchase retail hampers from the freezer at the end of services and mid-week meetings.

‘The retail hampers, if sold through a major retailer at a lesser quality, for example, containing preservatives, would retail at around £40,’ said Colin. ‘We retail the hampers at £30.’

Every time a retail hamper is sold a free meal hamper is donated to the church. The church can then use the free meal hampers to feed people who are hungry within the area it serves.

‘We have full control of stock levels and provide a card reader for ease of purchasing,’ said Colin. ‘We monitor sales and stock levels through the Food Parcel Automated System (FPAS) and replenish both the retail hamper and free meal hamper – doing it all in the name of Jesus.’

The retail hamper, for example, consists of meat products, steak burgers, sausages, meatballs and seasoned joints of meat. The hampers are complete and sealed, so no order making is required – ‘you just pick up the box, scan the card reader and go!’ The produce has been farmed to the highest welfare standard. Livestock is free-range, fed a natural diet, no routine antibiotics have been administered and full ingredient traceability is available with one simple scan.

The free hamper contains enough for 15 fully-balanced meals. As well as high-quality meat products straight off the farm, the hamper also contains vegetables and potatoes, enabling the person in need who receives the hamper to put full balanced meals on the table. It is also produced to the same high standard as the retail hamper, producing a high-quality gift. 

A video explaining the Farming Food Bank can be seen here.

‘We passionately believe that it is possible to do good and make money at the same time and if this was a common structure, the world would look a lot different to the way it does today,’ said Colin.

• Giving Stream Limited are on stand P61 at CRE Midlands 2020

Photo: The free hamper (pictured) contains enough for 15 fully-balanced meals

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
Book tickets for CRE Midlands 2020

Dave HallByDave Hall

Worship: How to take it from the heart to the street

You are invited to journey with Chris Bowater and friends at CRE Midlands – as they take worship ‘from inside to outside’, from the heart to the streets.

Three stirring sessions from 11am (Thu 5 Mar) will feature Chris Bowater and special guests Lou Fellingham, Sandra Godley and Roger Jones.

‘Together we will explore the “inside” story of our journey in worship that has resulted in an “outside” commitment – to mission and a calling to influence society,’ explained Chris, a father of the modern worship movement.

The day will culminate at 3pm with an inspirational session of sung worship, led by the team.

‘Be part of it all before you rush into the traffic – and all that awaits at home!’ said Chris.

The Worship Thursday team

Chris Bowater is a long-established composer and a widely-acknowledged father of the modern worship movement.

Lou Fellingham is a songwriter and worship leader, and an ever-present in the music industry for the past 20 years. She has recorded five albums and is known for her prophetic edge and distinctive voice.

Sandra Godley With MOBO nominations and multiple awards to her name, Sandra has made her mark over the last decade by climbing the music charts and lending her gifts to encourage and help others, including the Gosp-Ability choir who will sing at the opening of the exhibition.  

Roger Jones is an internationally-recognised composer, teacher, leader of CMM (Christian Music Ministries) and receiver of 2019 Thomas Cranmer award from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

• Worship Thursday takes place in the Inflatable Theatre from 11am at CRE Midlands

For a full schedule of events at the exhibition click here

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
Book tickets for CRE Midlands 2020

Dave HallByDave Hall

Meet the ‘Lions’ who can make your idea a roaring success

If you’ve ever dreamed of pioneering a church, starting a business or launching a new social enterprise, one CRE Midlands exhibitor may offer you the help you will need.

Drawn from every sphere of influence including church, commerce and community, the Lions are Christian men and women impacting society who are ready to pass on their expertise to others. They connect Christian pioneers and entrepreneurs with passionate people who help lay firm foundations for the challenges of entrepreneurship.

‘We are searching for 16 dedicated delegates to join us for six weekends at The Belfry Hotel in Birmingham,’ said one Lion, Chris Spicer (pictured). ‘Besides being an opportunity to connect with like-minded people over coffee and around a meal table, each delegate will experience an interactive learning environment that is more living room than classroom in style.

‘For those who dare to apply, joining the Lions could help you turn a good idea into a powerful reality – and help change the world as we know it.’

Chris will speak at CRE Midlands on Embracing Entrepreneurial Thinking (3pm, Thu 5 Mar).

‘Among a number of issues, I’ll be discussing the relationship between the church and entrepreneurs,’ he said, ‘and how to identify the difference between a “God idea” and a “good idea.”’

• The Lions are on stand P14a at CRE Midlands 2020

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
Book tickets for CRE Midlands 2020