Monthly Archive August 2020

Dave HallByDave Hall

Against the pandemic odds, the (plain) truth is out there

One magazine received an unexpected boost during lockdown with more requests to reproduce its articles.

‘Shortly after attending Midlands CRE in March, as lockdown descended, an encouraging pattern emerged amongst some elderly readers,’ said Mary Hammond, editor of The Plain Truth.

Throughout the pandemic, government guidance has meant that the majority of church members aged over 70 have been unable to attend services, personal prayer activities or other events in person.

‘We’ve witnessed a growing number of requests to use or reproduce our articles,’ said Mary. ‘We’ve also seen a huge rise in the number of requests – 900 to date – for our free book of inspiring articles previously appearing in our magazine by Rev Roy Lawrence.’

One housebound 93-year-old widow in the Midlands was so inspired by Roy’s book that she asked for another copy to go to a frail (non-Christian) friend in hospital to ‘give her some Christian encouragement in her time of need’.

One 95-year-old man, Mr AJM, wrote: ‘Brother David Jardine’s article is the best summing-up call to current effective prayer I have seen. I would like permission to share his “Lessons learned” in my next prayer letter.’

A delighted Mary commented: ‘The pandemic has meant that many elderly Christians may indeed be restricted – but not restrained – from sharing their zeal for the Gospel.’

• For a free subscription to The Plain Truth, click here

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

‘Fresh and green’: God has big plans for older people

For older people during the pandemic, Pilgrims’ Friend Society’s care homes and independent living schemes have proved an emotional lifeline.

‘We are passionate about providing residents with spiritual support, whether that’s through devotions with staff and other residents, or simply a quiet bedside prayer with another member of the community,’ said the society’s Helen McKay-Ferguson. ‘This has been especially significant over the past six months.’

The society’s homes and housing schemes have connections with local churches which many residents attend.

‘When visits to our homes are not restricted, invited speakers lead regular devotional times,’ said Helen. ‘Many local churches also provide practical support, through fundraising events, financial giving or volunteering and visiting.’

Psalm 92:14 reads: ‘They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.’

‘In a culture where negative views of aging abound, the biblical perspective is refreshing and energising,’ said Helen. ‘We have more than 200 years’ experience of supporting older people and believe God has big plans for them.’

Myrtle, a lady living at the society’s Framland home in Wantage, Oxfordshire, said: ‘I’m thankful to be alive and to be living here.’ Doris lives in an independent living scheme in Bedford. ‘It’s like having your own home,’ she said, ‘and at the same time being part of one big family.’

The society has a range of resources to help churches encourage their older members.

• Pilgrims’ Friend Society are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct 2021). For more information click here

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Looking after family and friends on the saddest of days

The comfort of seating at a crematorium is not the first thing that concerns families and friends gathering to remember a loved one but it’s an important issue to those who host the funeral.

‘Officials in charge of crematoria and funeral home spaces are keen to provide a context in sympathy with the deep emotions surrounding cremation, life and death,’ said ICS Furniture’s Martha Clancy. ‘As a company we are renowned for the design of our furniture which can be customised to reflect the design and feel of the architecture around it. Our focus is always the end user and we strive to ensure our seating provides exactly what is needed, in the right place at the right time.’

Thornhill Cemetery in Cardiff opened in 1952. During the crematorium’s first year there were just over 1000 cremations. There are now almost three times that number. A complete renovation was recently required with chairs replaced by benches. ICS Furniture were tasked with producing a bespoke, fully-upholstered bench with a curved gable in oak. A very simple line engraving was also included to draw the eye along the aisle. 

‘We pride ourselves on producing beautifully crafted and extremely comfortable benches,’ said Martha. ‘This is possible as the amount of foam used as the bench does not need to be stacked.’

Benches can be designed in both curved and straight formations and have the option of both an upholstered or solid back rest. Bookshelves provide storage for prayer books or information leaflets.

• ISC Furniture are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct 2021). For more information click here

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Fundraising? Click into gear with Ecclesiastical

Fundraising has always been vital for churches – and the internet has opened up many additional ways to increase much-needed funds.

With this in mind, Ecclesiastical have launched an easy-to-use online fundraising hub offering lots of great ideas and simple advice. 

‘It can be daunting to know where to start,’ admitted Michael Angell, church operations director for Ecclesiastical Insurance. ‘Drawing on our own experience of over 130 years’ working with churches and on the advice of fundraising experts, we’ve pulled together a range of top tips to help you grow your existing income streams and develop new sources of income.’

The hub includes guidance on digital fundraising – including crowd-funding and running online events, as well as using the web to keep your congregation and wider community informed and engaged. There is help with researching sources of grant funding and writing professional applications that can make all the difference to the answer you receive.

A series of video webinars includes one in which internationally-respected expert Caroline Underwood from Philanthropy Company, who has worked with global charities, shares some of her fundraising secrets.

Click here to find out more.

• Ecclesiastical Insurance will be exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey 12-14 Oct)

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Time we moved on from ‘science versus God’

If you are perplexed by the pandemic in particular and science in general, help is available from Christians in Science (CiS).

Exhibitors at the forthcoming CRE South West 2021 (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 March), CiS offer helpful material on a number of relevant subjects, including Coronavirus. Although primarily a professional group, a proportion of its almost 1000 members are not scientists.

‘We are happy to welcome anyone with an interest in science and faith,’ said CiS development officer Steph Bevan. Current members include highly distinguished senior scientists and gifted speakers. Local groups are scattered around the UK and Ireland.

‘It’s a common misperception that there is always conflict between science and faith and this can be abused by those with anti-Christian or anti-science agenda,’ explained Steph. ‘In reality, science has always been the domain of many committed Christians.’ She recalls how astronomer Johannes Kepler dedicated one of his papers with a prayer: ‘I have here completed the work of my calling, with as much intellectual strength as you have granted me.’ This same attitude is shared by many Christians who work in science today.

Four fascinating lectures, given at an online conference last month, include three on God and pandemics. All are available on the group’s YouTube site

Prof Bob White, FRS, speaks on Plagues and Pandemics: perspectives from science and faith. A professor of geophysics at Cambridge University and director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, comments: ‘Viruses such as Covid-19 travel around the globe at, literally, the speed of a jet airliner. At least in the high-income countries today we have developed the hubris of thinking we can control our world, that we are in charge. So when something like the Covid-19 pandemic hits us it’s a shock to our whole way of thinking, to our individualistic lifestyles, and it exposes the inequalities and injustices in our world.’

Dr Mirjam Schilling, a researcher at the University of Oxford working on the interplay of viruses and the innate immune system, asks whether viruses are part of God’s creation. ‘This year a virus is affecting all of us dramatically. But are viruses as evil and vicious as we like to portray them?’ she contends. ‘When you look at the pictures and images, there’s symmetry and beauty. We underestimate them because we think only about their function. It’s interesting how they mechanistically work. As we do more research we may be able to use them as a therapeutic agent in some way. I’m quite excited about viruses though I accept this is a very subjective view!’

Christians in Science produces a quarterly magazine, PréCiS, which informs its membership of science and faith events around the UK and Ireland and includes short articles and interviews. A current aim of CiS is to forge stronger links with local churches both to encourage congregations to see how science can enhance faith and worship and to help in outreach events by answering objections to belief based on mistaken ideas of a conflict with science. In these ways, CiS is offering itself to churches as a partner in mission.

Christians in Science (CiS) will be exhibiting at CRE South West (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 March).

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Making a difference, one bauble at a time

Hand-blown by Muslims, hand-painted by Christians, shipped by Israelis – the 2020 Bethlehem Bauble will soon be appearing on a Christmas tree near you!

Each bauble arrives on a bed of straw in its own presentation box along with a certificate of origin. No plastic is used – and it’s made from recycled materials. Founded by Ros Pollock whilst posted to Jerusalem with the UN, Bethlehem Baubles aims to provide a grass roots, fair living wage to a struggling community.

Ros Pollock

‘The craftspeople working in the glass-blowing company were producing wonderful, delicate items but I had to convince them to make baubles which would bring a beautiful decorative Holy Land touch to any home,’ Ros explained.

Her enthusiasm won the day and with a different design for the collection each year, Bethlehem Baubles have the potential to become an abiding part of the Christmas experience – a perfect stocking filler and something unusual that tricky relative who is always difficult to buy for!

‘Christmas should be about giving something special to the ones we love and connecting with the things that really matter,’ said Ros. ‘In an age of mass production and commercialisation, Bethlehem Baubles offers you the chance to return to these simple origins and renew the authentic spirit of the season. We’ve paired up with Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans (BFTA) who work closely with Muslim and Christian communities at an individual level in order to produce a unique gift with a direct and meaningful impact. Together we can make a difference for these skilled artisans.’

The baubles now sell in many renowned shops around the UK including many cathedral and church shops including Lambeth Palace and St. Pauls, and a host of gift shops and garden centres who have all embraced a project that encourages a genuine celebration of Christmas.

‘Our goal is to take Bethlehem Baubles around the world,’ said Ros. ‘The more we sell the more jobs we create, so we would love to find new customers. People are growing weary of putting cheap bling on their Christmas trees and want to celebrate in a more authentic way. By investing in something truly meaningful they can renew the spirit of Christmas each year – one bauble at a time.’

Click here for Bethlehem Baubles’ 2020 edition, available in dark blue, silver and turquoise at £13 + shipping. Also available are limited edition trio boxes – three beautiful baubles in a handmade wooden box that makes an original and thoughtful gift. Available for £32 + shipping.

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Befuddled by fundraising? Now there’s a Saint at your service

Churches looking to rekindle a capital appeal project in the wake of lockdown can increase their chances of success with the help of a third sector consultancy.

Prior to lockdown, Action Planning ran three church capital appeals workshops on behalf of the Diocese of Oxford. All three were oversubscribed. Now the consultancy is planning to take this service online, giving churches throughout the UK the opportunity to log on and gain valuable insights for their own projects.

‘It’s not uncommon for churches to be sitting on capital projects that were launched years ago but have stalled for some reason,’ explained Action Planning chairman David Saint. ‘It’s a classic case of “don’t spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar”. Successful capital appeals rely on a number of factors: a realistic target, a strong case for support, a plan of action, good communication, faith… We help church fundraisers to make all these factors watertight and give them a clear plan for launching – or relaunching – their appeal. As Christians ourselves, we are always keen to see church projects succeed.’

Action Planning’s experience in church capital appeals is extensive and among its network of consultants are seasoned church fundraising specialists whose expertise is renowned, not least David Saint himself. Associate consultant Andrew Barton is another highly-respected expert in church fundraising. Earlier this year he carried out extensive bid writing work for Oxford Diocese, which clinched a £2m grant from the Church of England Strategic Development Fund. Three churches across Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire had appeals that had been in play for more than 10 years reignited by a feasibility study carried out by David Saint and associate consultant Sean Tully.

One, St Mary’s in Bloxham, Oxfordshire, reported that ‘Action Planning’s recommendations were spot on… it was helpful to have a third party telling us the things we need to address.’ St Mary’s have since asked Action Planning to deliver a further piece of work, advising them on how best to pursue their strategy in light of Covid-19.

‘In addition to our practical experience, it’s often our objectivity that enables us to bridge gaps and bring all parties together behind one cohesive plan,’ says David Saint. ‘For thousands of churches around Britain that are trying to recover from the blows inflicted by the pandemic, the need for calm, experienced guidance has never been more pressing.”

• Action Planning are exhibiting at CRE South West 2021 (17-18 Mar) and CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct). For more information click here

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Bespoke sanitisers? You have to hand it to Fullers

Much more aesthetically pleasing than plastic and aluminium options ­- let alone the cost!

That’s how St Mark’s Community Café in Bristol responded to a new, purpose-built hand sanitiser station – made by regular CRE exhibitors Fullers Finer Furniture. Specialists in products made for places of worship and education, Fullers, a bespoke company based in Weston-super-Mare, had been approached by another local church in the process of undertaking risk assessments.

‘Its members needed to consider additional safety precautions required to enable their building to re-open for corporate worship,’ explained company founder Paul Fuller. In response, he designed a free-standing hand sanitiser station (pictured). Made of wood and finished in a hygienic, easy-to-clean real oak veneer, each unit is supplied with a refillable dispenser. The unit has a clip frame in which to insert an A4 printed notice. 

‘Given the current situation and ongoing importance of hygiene, the unit is designed with practicality and durability in mind,’ said Paul. ‘It weighs approx. 9.2 kg, can be moved easily and placed appropriately for use on entering the building and approaching the servery or dining area.’

Delighted with the design, the church ordered four free standing hand sanitiser stations and 10 wall-mounted versions. The free-standing station costs £120 (+ VAT & delivery) with the wall-mounted option £70 (+ VAT & delivery).

To find out more click here

• Fullers Finer Furniture are exhibiting at CRE South West 2021 (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 Mar) and CRE National 2021 (Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, 12-14 Oct)

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Webinars prove lifeline for safeguarding trainees

Vulnerable people are still vulnerable during lockdown, so Thirtyone:eight harnessed digital technology to provide vital member training.

Like thousands of other organisations, the independent Christian safeguarding charity closed its head office and training centre in March and staff worked from home. Established for more than 40 years, the organisation works with thousands of member organisations to make sure safeguarding standards are upheld and protected. 

‘We usually hold more than 230 face-to-face training courses a year, with up to 40 delegates present at each,’ explained Thirtyone:eight’s Matt Cooper. ‘Because of the lockdown, face-to-face was no longer feasible.’

Their member organisations still needed access to vital training with many seeing an increase in volunteering. 

‘We started trialling webinars before Covid-19 but had to fast track these to meet new demand,’ explained Matt. ‘Adapting face-to-face into webinars was not easy with our trainers requiring a different skill set. We also had to overcome technology needs for our users.’

In spite of the difficulties Thirty-one:eight delivered more than 40 webinars between April and June.

‘We also had new business from clients for whom face-to-face did not meet their needs,’ said Matt. ‘We started small and worked up, trialling one course and adapting as we went on.’For more information click here.

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Beating the path to being truly human

In this time of struggle and challenge, nine sayings of Jesus will help us reconfigure what’s important in the world.

So says author Mark Scandrette, who suggests the sayings – or ‘beats’ – invite us to see things differently. Captured in the Sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes offer a Ninefold Path to what it truly means to be human. 

Mark Scandrette

‘The only way to really experience fullness of life is by learning to apply the words of Christ to the messy details of our lives,’ said Mark. ‘There is a huge gap between how Christ calls us to live and how we actually live. The path addresses that gap in gentle and life-giving ways, exploring the way of Jesus with curiosity.’ 

In a world crying out for change, Mark, who is also the Ninefold Path facilitator, believes the beatitudes offer a way to make change happen, starting with ourselves.

Revd Alexandra Lilley, of St George’s, Tufnell Park, London, said: ‘I really recommend the path as a way to refresh our understanding of how to live the life that Christians are called to – being the hands and feet of Jesus.’

The project is an initiative of Lifewords, who want people everywhere to experience the Bible as good news for their lives and for the world. The Ninefold Path Notebook is now available at just £15 for a pack of five. Click here to find more, order resources, and access free online content.

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey