Clerics sporting clothes made of biodegradable bamboo could soon be de rigueur – if one woman’s ideas catch on.
Lottie Sparey (pictured) is founder of Lottie’s Eco, a husband-and-wife team from Worcestershire who make clergywear from organic bamboo. ‘True comfort lies in that ahhh… feeling when you put something on after a hard day,’ she said. ‘I was studying contour fashion at De Montfort University and became interested in creating next level clothing that would look great and also protect the planet.
‘Bamboo is an amazing product, replenishing itself, once cut, within a year. A prolific grower, it needs no fertiliser or chemicals and very little water. It is 100 per cent biodegradable, absorbs more carbon dioxide from the air than cotton or timber and releases more oxygen into the environment. Unlike polyester and nylon synthetic fabrics bamboo breathes and has a unique softness which makes for great wearing.’
A third of people living with dementia felt like ‘giving up’ during lockdown, according to research by the Alzheimer’s Society.
And three in ten went for at least four days without a significant conversation with others.
‘For carers and churches serving older people, knowing how to support those impacted by dementia can be incredibly difficult,’ said Louise Morse, a cognitive behavioural therapist and expert in dementia. She has written an information pack, Putting the Pieces Together, full of insight into dementia and related illnesses.
As well as practical information, the pack centres on the spiritual well-being of those living with dementia, and those caring for them. It is threaded through with the biblical principle that the person always remains – regardless of cognition or capacity. It also covers information and guidance at the point of diagnosis, support for the caregiver and ways to make the home safe for those living with dementia.
‘When dementia comes into your life you need all the information you can get – but you don’t have time to read a book about it,’ said Louise. ‘Secular advice springs from the understanding that we are simply the sum of our parts but within a Christian context we are eternal beings in human bodies.’
Click here for more information about the pack which costs £12.
Louise, who works with the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, has also recorded a seminar offering practical and spiritual support for dementia caregivers, on CRE TV. You can watch it here.
• Pilgrims’ Friend Society are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey) and CRE South West (23-24 Feb 2022, Westpoint, Exeter)
Lockdown Lent will be followed by an at-home Easter, so CRE has teamed up with Little Worship Company to dispel the gloom and bring young people some top-quality, seasonal DVDs – for free.
Wonderborn Studios create shows that set out to entertain and engage young people as much, if not more than similar offerings elsewhere – all the while communicating what it is to live like Jesus, in peace, hope and love.
And, as a special offer to CRE News readers, you can discover one of their DVDs, for postage cost alone. Bring the order up to £10 – the colouring books and devotionals are also good value – and the postage is free, too!
‘By the time a young person reaches 18 they will have engaged with media – film, tv and games – for 35,000 hours,’ explained Wonderborn’s Duncan Reid. ‘During the same period they will have spent 9,000 hours in school, 2,500 hours talking with their parents and 900 hours in church. With this glaring disparity it’s no wonder that the good news of Jesus is often drowned out, meaning fewer young people are carrying on in faith into adulthood.’
Beautiful, fun and colourful, Wonderborn’s products have young people right at the centre – helping families discover God together.
‘If you know families in your community who would also benefit from this offer, please share it with them,’ said Duncan. ‘While we’re all stuck at home this is a great way to share the freedom that is ours in Jesus.’
• Click here to order your free DVD.
As we enter the new world of hybrid events, one centre is pioneering the perfect solution for your church.
‘At Yarnfield Park you can stay with us and enjoy our spacious leafy green site and comfortable conference facilities,’ explained Yarnfield’s Natalie Hulme. ‘At the same time, those church members unable to join you in person can tune in from the comfort of their own homes.’
The centre offers use of up to three of the latest 4k high-definition cameras, enabling organisers to stream live events around the world.
A spokesperson from the Methodist Diaconal Order said: ‘The staff at Yarnfield Park are professional, friendly and have the most helpful “can do” attitude and are a delight to work with. They have worked closely with us to look at lots of options for our annual convocation to take place as a hybrid event. Best of all, we don’t have to worry about any of the technological aspects and can still achieve a professional, high-quality result.’
• Yarnfield Park are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey)
Daffodils bloom, lambing begins and the estate comes alive again – for the pandemic-weary Lee Abbey will become a place for renewal and refreshment this Spring.
‘Our doors will open to welcome you, to rest and be restored,’ said Gordon Crowther, the abbey’s warden. ‘We want you to be freshly inspired by encountering this place, the community and the wonders of God.’
Under the government’s programme of lockdown relaxation in April, Tea Cottage will open for tasty cream teas and self-catering units will open to allow visitors to enjoy the area even before residential programmes are possible.
School visits and outdoor activities at the Beacon Centre will follow and in July the main house will open, to provide opportunity for holidays, group stays, retreats and conferences.
‘This season has challenged us to simplify,’ added Gordon. ‘Worldwide, we are waking up to the urgent need to live within the means of the planet – to live simply. Our rhythm of life and daily programme will reflect this but we still feel called to offer the same generous hospitality that shares God’s welcome. After the challenges of the past year, we recognise, more than ever, the need to learn to live in community with people from different backgrounds; to live with and learn from each other, the way of Jesus Christ.’
A recent guest (who came between lockdowns) said: ‘…a loving, peaceful, support between members of the community is palpable, in stark contrast to the stress and anxiety that governs much of my own workplace.’
‘So,’ says Gordon, ‘trusting in God, we are preparing to reopen Lee Abbey. We invite you to partner with us, help to build community and be part of the adventure of learning to live with one another and with God. Our hope is that many people will encounter God, have their lives, communities and environments transformed.’
• Lee Abbey are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey) and CRE South West (23-24 Feb 2022, Westpoint, Exeter)
Poets, rap artists, sculptors, animators, designers, to name just a few, have joined forces to bring Easter to the world in a fresh way.
My Neon Life is a video launched over the holiday weekend for churches to use in their Easter Sunday services.
‘In Greek, neon means “new”’, explained Stew Smith, chief creative officer at Christian Publishing & Outreach (CPO). ‘It’s also our vision for Easter 2021. As we approach the easing of lockdown restrictions, we want to flood the UK with hope, reconciliation and gratitude – to magnify the message of new life found in the Easter story.’
CPO joined up with the team at Digital Church Toolkit to plan a campaign across print, online and in churches. They started by sharing stories of hope on social media, then launched a competition for UK Christians to create art which expresses the meaning of Easter in their own lives.
‘We engaged with poets, rap artists, sculptors, animators, spoken-word artists, writers, dancers, designers, videographers – anyone creative,’ said Stew. ‘Finally, we partnered with a Christian creative collective based in Bath, called Orphan No More.’
Together with Orphan No More, CPO have produced a video which communicates the story of Easter in an original way, highlighting the hope we can all find in the Gospel. Launched over Easter weekend, the video is available for download and can be included as part of churches’ Easter Sunday services.
‘We believe there has never been a better time to creatively capture the imagination of our nation with the Gospel,’ said Stew.
• Click below to see and download the video:
Popular author and CRE speaker Michael Penny could not resist the invitation from the trustees of The Open Bible Trust to write a book about John the Baptist.
It follows previous books on Peter, Paul, John and James (the brother of Jesus) written by the 77-year-old.
‘John is an intriguing character,’ he explained. ‘I was surprised when I analysed the New Testament that it doesn’t start with the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary and telling her she is to be the mother of God. Instead we read of Gabriel telling Zechariah that in their old age he and his wife are to have a son who was to go before the Lord. I suddenly realised how influential John was. It was an exciting study which I believe can be helpful to others.’
Michael was influential in launching The Open Bible Trust in 1984, taking on the role of administrator and editor. Moving to America to pastor a church there for nine years he returned to continue his role with the trust. In recent years he has accepted invitations to speak in many countries. He is also chief chaplain for Active Learning, offering help to chaplains and students in up to 19 colleges.
The new book, John the Baptist: His Life, Teaching and Impact, is available for £7.50 from The Open Bible Trust.
You can also watch a new seminar, Learning from Missionaries before Paul, presented by Michael on CRE TV.
The Open Bible Trust is a non-denominational charity which encourages people to read the Bible and to put its teaching into practice.
The Open Bible Trust are on stand S91 at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey)
The burgeoning presence of church online is considered in depth in a brand-new series of seminars on CRE TV.
Presented by hands-on professionals from Tamworth-based Novum AV, a company which helped many churches get online as the pandemic progressed, key questions about streaming are covered – for services, prayer meetings and study times.
The experts don’t just give their opinions, but bring in representatives from the many churches, missions and organisations they have helped over the past 12 months.
‘They describe how going online has not only helped them continue their teaching and pastoral care but also assisted them in reaching outsiders who would not otherwise attend church,’ explained CRE event director Brett Pitchfork. ‘We are delighted to share their observations and advice on CRE TV.’
When Covid-19 struck, one church that had met in a school began streaming their services –to find they were not only helping their usual membership but attracting many other people.
The first five presentations identify problems and solutions, from the number of cameras needed, to whether the service is to be broadcast on Zoom, YouTube or Facebook. There are also discussions on audio and lighting issues.
The final episode – The Future of Bricks with New-Found Clicks – is a lengthy interview between Novum founder Tim Jacques and a number of church and mission leaders who have streamed church services with success and are now considering what it will mean for the future.
The videos available on CRE TV are:
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As the world slowly emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, Christian charity Lifewords are offering a range of four Easter resources – free for churches, organisations and individuals.
Using the Bible’s own words to journey through the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, they are designed to invite people into the new hope and joy that Easter holds.
Available in print, digital and downloadable formats, the resources can be used by individuals, groups and in family contexts.
‘People chat about them on Zoom with friends, put them in food parcels and give them away,’ said Elizabeth King, supporter engagement lead at Lifewords. ‘Teachers can take students through the Easter story and churches can use them in services and for outreach. Each highlights part of the Bible narrative and together they tell the whole story.’
The Easter Journey – This 20-page booklet takes us from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. A vibrant and colourful resource, it brings scriptures to life with bold illustrations and graphics. A series of eight animations for The Easter Journey can be viewed online.
Day Three: Believe the Women – Through compelling contemporary illustrations, Day Three: Believe the Women is a 28-page booklet that tells the story from the perspective of the women that were with Jesus through his journey, and to whom the glorious news of his rising was given. New for 2021 is a series of animations to view and share, and a longer version that churches and individuals can also download and use.
One Friday – One Friday is an illustrated, 32-page booklet with powerful watercolour paintings by artist Jenny Hawke. It captures the moments leading to the crucifixion through the 14 Stations of the Cross. Produced as part of the One Friday campaign, hundreds of churches have now reached and engaged their communities in new and creative ways through this resource.
Witness: Easter Voices – This credit-card sized, 12-page concertina-style resource expands to reveal nine quotes – ideal for giving away to anyone hearing the good news. Through the voices of those that were present, Witness: Easter Voices gives a short introduction to the events leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Click here to order any of these free booklets (available in packs of 10).
Lifewords was founded 133 years ago as Scripture Gift Mission and provides over a million printed resources to people in some 45 languages and 70-90 countries every year, and digital resources to more than 200.
Lifewords are on stand S40 at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey)
A new, all-electric heating system has proved to be a winner with urban as well as rural churches.
ChurchEcoMiser was originally designed for country churches where gas was either unavailable or expensive and oil the only alternative. Now the system is winning plaudits from a wide range of ecclesiastical properties and those buying electricity through a ‘green’ supplier find it is also carbon neutral – allowing some churches to install solar panels which had previously been refused.
Designed by Chris Dunphy, who launched Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Ltd 40 years ago, the system has no boiler, no flue and no noxious gasses.
‘Many of the 1000-plus churches that I have dealt with over the years are Victorian or medieval where protecting the fabric of the building is as important as heating the people, so it can be a challenging but very rewarding task,’ he said. ‘This system is virtually maintenance free, compatible with solar panels, silent in operation and warms the fabric and congregation.’
ChurchEcoMiser and Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Ltd are on stand S7 at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey)