A free magazine called Aslan is a lion-sized guide to getting the best from Christian books, CDs and DVDs.
So says David Wavre, owner of Aslan Christian Books, a family-owned company with more than 30 years’ experience in the book trade.
‘We’ve designed the magazine as a one-stop shop for all that’s new – and a reminder of those classic authors whose writings are still relevant,’ he explains. In its May-June edition, Aslan presents a host of new books, key titles, ones to watch and some Christian classics.
‘We pride ourselves on offering a fantastic range of Christian titles across denominations and interests,’ he maintains, ‘all at the best prices around.’
The company is moving to a new nearby warehouse in Wiltshire at the end of June, to add about 10,000 square feet to the current operation. The current 32-page edition of Aslan – sent to about 10,000 individuals and churches – also highlights material covering prayer, biographies, devotionals, bibles, diaries and lectionaries, daily bible reading notes, fiction, children’s material, music and film. It also contains four pages of bargain buys.
Aslan is bi-monthly from January to June and then monthly.
• Click here for further information.
It’s taken time for the confidence to return after lockdown but in the past two weeks several organisations have booked stands at CRE National (12-14 Oct 2021) – taking the total space sold to almost 80 per cent.
So reports Brett Pitchfork, CRE’s event director, who has plotted a new floorplan for the event, in case social distancing is still required in the autumn. Changes include wider aisles and the use of the Esher Hall at Sandown Park.
‘There has been a growing sense of anticipation and determination to do business in the “old way” – face to face,’ said Brett. ‘Zoom conversations only take us so far. Finding new customers and supporters is best done in a live environment and CRE National is shaping up to be an emotional homecoming for many exhibitors and visitors.’
Among the organisations taking stands at CRE National in the past two weeks are:
‘If you are considering taking a stand, please get in touch soon,’ said Brett. ‘Your choice of position becomes smaller as the weeks go by.’
To book your stand, please contact:
0161 250 2467
0161 250 2306
A dynamic trio will take part in a ‘preach off’ before a panel of judges in June – to decide who will be named Preacher of the Year.
Organised by Preach Magazine, published by the Leaders of Worship and Preachers’ Trust (LWPT), the three chosen for the online final on June 24 are Katrina Clifford, from West Ewell, Surrey, Philip Sudworth, from Wigan and Catharine Hughes from Poynton, Cheshire.
They had been asked to produce a sermon in 1,500 words on the theme of ‘Cross the Divide’.
‘We were especially impressed with the standard of entries this year,’ said Ian Buchanan, chief executive of LWPT. ‘Entries came from many different churches and people of all age groups.’
Set up to promote the art of sermon writing and preaching, Sermon of the Year is in its sixth year. It gives preachers from across the UK an opportunity to hone and demonstrate their skills and is open to all Christian denominations.
Judges at the online preach-off will be Antony Billington, senior pastor at the Beacon Church, Wigan, and theology adviser at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, Dr Helen Morris, acting director of studies and lecturer in applied theology at Moorlands College and Tobi Olujinmi, an international public speaker, media producer and founder of W Talk.
Click here for more information.
• LWPT are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct, Sandown Park, Surrey)
Churches must go on broadcasting services online after lockdown – even if it means servicing several congregations.
So says Derek Clare, who formed New Day Audio Visual Specialists more than 20 years ago. Derek, 65, who gives advice and professional help to all churches seeking AV help, thinks that many now reach three distinct groups.
‘Firstly, there are those in the church building,’ he suggests. ‘Another group feel unable to return but may well do so in the future. The final “congregation” are people not previously reached but who tune into services online.’
Streaming services also provides a link for members of the local congregation unable to attend through illness or family commitments.
‘Covid-19 pandemic has been a disaster for the world but created the biggest opportunity ever for presenting the gospel,’ believes Derek, who met his wife 21 years ago and was married six weeks later. Together they formed New Day company six weeks after that!
‘The pastor of one church into which we installed streaming equipment has a building which does not hold much more than 30 people,’ he explains. ‘But the services he is streaming are watched by people on up to 15,000 computers in Iran each week – probably with more than one person watching on each. And there are 600 people or so watching locally. I have always had a passion for using technology to further the gospel. During these uncertain times being online has been of even greater importance.’
The setting up of such systems is not difficult, he points out.
‘We have a range of solutions from a single camera which will stream directly to Facebook, YouTubeLive and other platforms, to multi-camera setups. We help with legal questions and allay concerns congregations may have about live video.’
And he promises: ‘With our expertise and support we will get you online fulfilling Mark 16:15: “Then Jesus said to them, you must now proclaim the good news to the whole world, to all creation.”’
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A huge monument to God’s willingness to care for his people is moving nearer to the building stage.
The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer, 50 metres high and on a strategic 10-acre site between the M6 and M42 motorways, is expected to be seen by more than 500,000 people a day.
Snug Architects of Totton, Southampton, whose design for the project beat more than 130 competitors from 28 countries, will continue to oversee the project to completion. Their stand at CRE Midlands 2020 introduced the wall to visitors.
Richard Gamble (pictured), former chaplain at Leicester City Football Club, had the vision for a colossal national landmark of hope with each of its one million bricks representing an answered prayer. The project aims to preserve and celebrate the UK’s Christian heritage and inspire the nation to pray. Using state-of-the-art technology, visitors will use their phones to read the answered prayers to which each brick relates.
Richard, the wall’s chief executive, said: ‘We want to create an iconic structure the nation will not only be proud of but find inspirational – a landmark of hope.’
The Möbius strip concept forms a continuous loop that allows visitors to process through a gravity-defying triumphant arch, before encircling the wall. With seemingly no support where the strip curves and twists, the arch will be over 40m high with an 80m span – significantly larger than Sir Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, which is 20m tall with wings measuring 54m across.
A visitor centre, bookshop and 24-hour chaplaincy support service are part of the plans.
Richard, whose book Remember, was recently published, added: ‘We are making tremendous progress and are thrilled with response across the country to this project. Several large donations have catapulted us forward. We will start to build the access road in September which will coincide with a crowdfunding campaign – and begin the mobius strip in 2022. We are on target to complete building at the end of that year.’
• Snug Architects are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 Oct, Sandown Park, Surrey)
A reading project in which everyone who lived alongside the Thames was encouraged to read Jerome K. Jerome’s classic Three Men in a Boat sparked Steve Barnett into action.
‘The Big Thames Valley Read gave people something in common to talk about,’ said Steve, who runs St Andrews Bookshop. ‘I wondered if it would work in a church setting. If we could encourage people to read the same book at the same time it would build fellowship, create a sense of shared experience and deepen faith.’
During lockdown, Steve Barnett and Andy Lyon from publishers HodderFaith agreed to create the National Big Church Read – if either John Mark Comer or Pete Greig joined in. Both said yes!
One year on, there have been two National Big Church Reads. The third began this week, on May 24, focussing on How to Pray by Pete Greig. The fourth read follows in September with Bouncing Forward by Patrick Reagan.
‘We encourage groups and churches to journey through the book together with the author,’ said Steve. ‘The author records a short video for each week that can be played from the Big Church Read website in which the author encourages people to talk about the book.’
What has excited Steve, whose bookshop will exhibit at CRE National (Oct 12-14), is that some people are drawn into reading who might not normally do so – and many read the whole book.
‘We discovered that a third of the Christians said they didn’t usually read Christian books while many said they did not finish a book they had started,’ he said. ‘Every one of the people who did not normally read the whole book, did so. We are hearing of how groups have been drawn closer, lives changed and faith deepened. That is why more than 90 per cent of those who have already been involved in a Big Church Read say they will be joining another.’
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• St Andrew’s Bookshop are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct, Sandown Park, Surrey)
With the forthcoming acquisition of publishers Lion Hudson from the AFD Group, the SPCK Group will be the UK’s largest Christian publisher with income in excess of £8 million per annum.
James Catford, chair of SPCK, said: ‘This is an exciting and visionary step which combines the UK market leader in children’s Christian publishing with the market leader in adult Christian publishing. The strengthened SPCK Group will now have the scale and resource to be a global leader in Christian publishing.’
Sam Richardson, chief executive of SPCK, said: ‘I am delighted that this move continues SPCK’s momentum. In the past six years we have doubled our income and won both the Christian Publisher of the Year and Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year awards three times. Our successful merger with Inter-Varsity Press has proved we can provide a seamless experience for authors and customers and retain the distinctive theological approaches of different imprints under one roof. This move will help both SPCK and Lion Hudson to better serve our authors, our customers and the church in the UK and around the world.’
David Dorricott, managing director of the AFD Group, said: ‘It has been a privilege to be part of God’s plan for Lion Hudson for a season – and we are delighted that this exciting opportunity will now release new energy not just in the amazing imprints of Lion Hudson, but also the wider SPCK group. We will continue to cheer them on in their vital work – especially in presenting a Christian world view to an increasingly secularised society.’
SPCK and Lion Hudson will be exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 October 202, Sandown Park, Surrey)
It has the capacity to process up to 60 baskets per hour, addresses anything from light soiling to resistant residues and provides thorough disinfection in the ever-present threat of pandemics – present and future.
So say Nelson, producers of a new, undercounter utensil and pot washer for 2021 to augment its highly-regarded Advantage warewasher range.
Meeting exacting standards in terms of build quality, usability, energy and water efficiency, the new Advantage Diligence produces outstanding results on all types of pots, trays and utensils. It has the capacity to process up to 60 baskets per hour and, with seven available programmes, it can address anything from light soiling to the most resistant residues, quickly and effectively. When necessary, the rinse cycle can be extended and, for very badly soiled items, the wash tank water can be completely replaced.
‘It’s built to work hard and it’s double skinned,’ said John Nelson. ‘AISI 304 stainless steel construction promises ongoing durability with generous insulation throughout to prevent heat from escaping. Additional thermo-acoustic insulation to the door and wash chamber ensure it’s very quiet in operation and a soft start option helps stabilise an unbalanced load, thus also helping to reduce noise emissions.’
Importantly, the pressure-pumped, thermostop controlled rinse water can be heated up to a maximum of 85°C to provide thorough disinfection, a very real concern for many users with the ever-present threat of pandemics.
‘The machine’s clear electronic controls are very user friendly and, in the event that a problem should occur, the machine has a self-diagnostic fault system,’ said John. ‘A self-clean programme avoids the need for manual cleaning and this will commence automatically at the end of service.’
When the machine hasn’t been used for a while it will revert to standby mode, thus ensuring no unnecessary energy is wasted.
Nelson are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 October 202, Sandown Park, Surrey)
While many churches have seen congregations swell by streaming services, nine out of 10 in a recent survey admit they have lost connection with people.
The Christian Conference Trust aim to rectify that by offering a special deal this summer for church congregations, leadership teams and youth groups to meet at their three centres at The Hayes, in Swanwick, Derbyshire, High Leigh in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire and Belsey Bridge in Ditchingham, Suffolk.
The survey, conducted by the trust, also discovered that 98 per cent of event organisers still plan to hold face-to-face conferences in the future – giving confidence to all Christian residential providers.
John Heasman, the trust’s chief executive, said: ‘There has never been a more important time to reconnect in person. Video conferencing helped us all through 2020 but it will never replace the closeness of community felt by going away for a weekend conference together. Our guests understand the value of residential events with 91 per cent telling us they do not believe that video conferencing will replace face-to-face contact.
‘We’ve been serving the Christian community for more than 100 years and we’re going to be here for the next generation of believers to enable their ministry to flourish. As one of our guests told us recently, ‘there is no substitute for togetherness’”.
Believing that the future of residential retreats is vital, the trust are offering church conference or retreat organisers a £49 per night all-inclusive deal when the centres reopen from July 1.
‘This should give a real lift to church groups and those who may never have experienced residential retreats,’ said John. ‘And it provides an incentive to attract many who are not regular churchgoers but have followed the streaming of services.’
The trust follows all the latest guidelines to create a Covid-safe environment.
A number of challenges face those implementing good safeguarding practice in the context of different cultures.
So found Thirtyone:eight and the University of Chester after conducting unique research into the challenges involved in safeguarding young people in international Christian work.
The exploratory study used a questionnaire to discover the experiences of agencies supporting people in the UK engaged in international Christian work, as well as the experiences of the individuals themselves engaged in this work.
The study also found that although there was much evidence of good practice, the findings did highlight distinct differences between the policy and processes in place versus the ‘challenging reality of implementing these in practices on the ground’.
Participants in the study included representatives from 39 organisations and agencies working in an international context. Importantly, the researchers found that two in every five surveyed reported that they encountered child safeguarding issues that they had not been prepared for.
Dr Lisa Oakley and Professor Moira Lafferty from the University of Chester who conducted the study said: ‘It is pleasing to see positive examples of good practice in the data and important that we continue to work together to address areas that the research identified as needing further consideration.
‘With little previous research in this area, we hope the findings will enable the further development of safeguarding policy in international Christian work and provide a foundation for organisations to work together to develop best practice.’