Simeon the Stylite (who died on 2 September 459 aged 68) was a big fan of self isolation. He spent 37 years alone on a platform one metre square, at the top of a pillar 50 feet high in Telanissa (modern-day Taladah in Syria). Boys from the nearby village would pass him parcels of bread and goats’ milk and he spent the days praying and talking to visitors brave enough to climb the ladder.
We may consider Simeon’s self-imposed asceticism as eccentric but it is said his preaching ‘conveyed temperance and compassion and was marked with common sense and freedom from fanaticism.’ Perhaps Simeon’s isolation meant he discovered truths impossible to acquire in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
While we all wish for a swift end to these unprecedented times, we would do well to see such trying circumstances as an opportunity to learn important lessons about ourselves – and in so doing experience the grace of God anew (see James 1:2). In turn, we will become a richer blessing to others.
As a team, we’ve practised intense social isolation since taking over CRE four years ago! None of us lives within 40 miles of the other and, working from home, we use all methods of electronic communication currently available to us. However, we are well aware that for many individuals and organisations it is a very different story. The Coronavirus crisis has put many endeavours at serious risk, long-term. We expect CRE National 2020 (13-15 October, Sandown Park, Surrey) to go ahead as normal, but we are reviewing the situation on a daily basis and expect to make a final decision sometime in June.
Whatever happens, CRE will stay in business – whether our next exhibition is at Sandown Park in October, or at Westpoint, Exeter, on 17-18 March 2021.
It’s been encouraging to see several of our exhibitors going out of their way to help local churches in these extraordinary times. Novum AV and Church Edit, for example, have introduced special facilities to enable churches to communicate more effectively, by way of improved websites and broadcasting services. We will be publicising similar initiatives over the next few weeks – so check back often!
In conclusion, we would like to thank you again for your continued support. We are especially mindful of people attempting to work from home who have young children around their legs and, like Simeon the Stylite, are also going up the pole!
With every blessing
Christian Resources Exhibitions Ltd
Organisers of CRE Midlands (4/5 Mar, NAEC, Stoneleigh Park) were encouraged by a positive response from exhibitor and visitor alike after fearing the worst from coverage surrounding the Coronavirus.
‘We groaned when, just before the exhibition opened, we heard the London Book Fair had been cancelled,’ admitted managing director Steve Goddard. ‘Several emails arrived from people who had pre-registered for the exhibition, apologising that they weren’t going to come because of the health risk. And those were just the ones who thought to tell us!
‘However, as we know from putting on the exhibition for more than three decades, the quality of enquirer matters far more than quantity. While visitor numbers were understandably lower than we had originally anticipated, enough decision-makers came to make the event a genuine success.’
Almost half the visitors had never been to a CRE anywhere before.
‘Virtually every exhibitor told us our visitors were like sponges – determined to soak up new ideas, products and services,’ said Steve. ‘For that, we were truly thankful.’
Media coverage of the exhibition was extensive. As well as previews in periodicals like Church Times, Church of England Newspaper and Methodist Recorder, CRE Midlands was covered on nine BBC local radio stations and gained column inches in several regional newspapers including the Sunday Mercury, Coventry Observer, Rugby Advertiser and Warwick Courier. ITV’s Midlands Today filmed the exhibition and ran a feature twice in its regional news bulletin. The Daily Telegraph made a major splash of it all.
Dozens of stand bookings were taken for the next two exhibitions – CRE National at Sandown Park (13-15 Oct 2020) and CRE South-West at Westpoint, Exeter (17-18 Mar 2021).
‘We are grateful to everyone involved at Stoneleigh Park for backing us through a difficult few days,’ said Steve. ‘We are praying that the Coronavirus crisis will be over before CRE National at Sandown Park (13-15 Oct 2020) – not just for our sakes but for thousands of other event organisers worldwide.’
A number of people have asked whether the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE Midlands, 4-5 March) is going ahead, because there is so much in news about the effect of Coronavirus in other countries.
We want to assure everyone that the exhibition is going ahead as planned and we and our 150 exhibitors look forward to welcoming you.
The safety of visitors and exhibitors is at the forefront of everything we do. The UK risk level for coronavirus has been increased from low to moderate. However, the risk to individuals has not changed and remains low.
We are closely following government/medical advice and will have hand sanitisers in place around the hall. We ask all visitors to also adhere to the recommended common-sense advice about personal hygiene.