Monthly Archive July 2021

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Welcome back to the new different

Dear friend of CRE

Perhaps your church is one of hundreds that hasn’t bemoaned the disruption caused by the pandemic but has taken the opportunity to harness new technology and reach countless thousands who would never darken your doors on a Sunday.

We may miss the ‘old normal’ but, being realistic, this ‘new different’ is the future.

Our ever-creative exhibitors are rising to the challenge, too. I invite you to look through an online version of the CRE National 2021 brochure. A hard copy has dropped through more than 30,000 letterboxes this week.

At Sandown Park (Oct 12-14) there’ll be a comprehensive range of new resources for you and your church – in financial management, fund-raising, new technology, social media, streaming, worship, creative arts, home groups, mission, youth and children’s work. Expert advice will be on hand in more than 50 seminars and special features.

Keen to come but Covid-cautious? Your safety is our major focus, so we’ve moved part of the exhibition from the main Surrey Hall to the Esher Hall below – allowing the creation of wider aisles. Other possible safety measures will depend on government stipulations at the time. 

When you’ve read through the brochure, be sure to forward the link to others who will also benefit from a day of discovery at CRE National 2021 – and buy your tickets today for as little as £3 (day-of-entry £8).

This year, more than any other, please support our loyal exhibitors by bringing at least one full car from your church!

In truth, after a difficult 18 months, there will be something wonderfully familiar and ‘old normal’ about bringing CRE back to Sandown Park. But we’re looking forward to showing how you and your church can become part of the ‘new different’, committed to the challenge of change.

And that’s what makes running this event so exciting and rewarding.

See you at Sandown Park in October!

Steve Goddard
On behalf of the CRE team

Dave HallByDave Hall

Pop goes the pupil

The lockdown has proved a mixed blessing to the founders of a popular school resource.

Miz Porter, creator of iSingPOP, said: ‘The crisis has been really bad because children have not been allowed to sing in school but good because we have developed a whole new area of ministry using YouTube and visual resources.’ 

Founded 15 years ago, the organisation has been reaching 90,000 children a week thanks to a classroom worship programme. Resources are provided to help children and families engage in collective worship whether in school, church or at home. The vision for the project came when Miz, 48, was taking a band into schools to lead singing and discovered the children wanted to be the band. 

‘I realised they need to be involved in every aspect of the programme,’ she recalled. ‘That is the skill which our team of enthusiastic leaders have developed over the years.’

Classroom Worship from iSingPOP unites the whole school in collective worship, even if the children are in smaller bubbles or learning from home. The one-a-week, 20-minute session involves almost no advance preparation and can be lined up with Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Each session includes an animated Bible story, time to reflect on the theme, a prayer activity and a dance routine to learn and practice – and the Lord’s Prayer.

It is even possible for a school or church to put on a special concert after three days of learning some catchy, fun-filled pop songs – each one based on an important Christian value. The concert can be performed live in the local community or church with all the equipment provided. The school will also get a set of teaching videos so the children continue singing and learning.

iSingPOP is Innervation Trust’s (a UK based charity) primary and secondary school singing, performing and resourcing project. 

‘We work with church and community schools right across the country, however we have an official partnership with the Church of England,’ said Miz. As one youngster told them in an email after a school visit: ‘Hello I’m a fan. I’m a student and I learn from this so much I feel like I’m connecting to God and Jesus.’

iSingPOP will be in action at CRE National 2021 (3pm, Tue 12 Oct) and aim to ‘take years off your age’ at their interactive workshop!

iSingPOP are on stand U9 at CRE National 2021

Seminar Guide – See the complete guide to seminars and special features at CRE National 2021

Welcome Back – See an online version of the CRE National 2021 ‘Welcome Back’ brochure

Our next exhibitions

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

CRE South West 2022
23-24 February 2022
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE News

Click here for CRE News

Your new 60-page products and services guide. Nothing beats reading it!

Dave HallByDave Hall

Sermon of the Year 2021: Hughes woos the pews

Catharine Hughes may enjoy winning at board games but she’s scooped top prize in a pursuit that is far from trivial.

Catharine, 50, is winner of Sermon of the Year 2021 – an online competition organised by Preach, the quarterly membership magazine published by the Leaders of Worship and Preachers Trust (LWPT).

‘I was very surprised to receive the trophy!’ said Catharine, a member Poynton Methodist Church in Cheshire. ‘Preaching has been something I’ve done for a number of years and it is always such a privilege to share God’s word. I’m very grateful to the judges. It’s unbelievable – and I just want to thank everybody who has helped me on my journey so far.’

Cross the Divide was the theme chosen for this year’s competition. Three finalists were selected from a host of entries from all Christian denominations. Preachers and would-be preachers were asked to submit a sermon of 1,500 words via the online form on the Preach website. The judges looked for how the Bible text was dealt with, how the biblical themes were handled, and how the structure, application and theme of the message were covered.

Ian Buchanan, chief executive of CRE exhibitor LWPT, commented: ‘We were especially impressed with the overall standard of entries received this year and very pleased that entries came from many different churches and people of all age groups.’

Catharine grew up in Yorkshire and became a Christian during a mission conducted by the late Rob Frost. She has a degree in maths and psychology and qualified as a chartered accountant. Her husband’s research took them and their two children to Lusaka, Zambia, which delayed her accreditation as a Methodist local preacher by four years but gave her plenty of practice – and stories for two books. She is now completing her second of three years’ part-time training for presbyterial ministry.

‘After being told I had won the award I was delighted, but also a bit anxious about preaching my next sermon to people who knew,’ she admitted. ‘But I fell from a horse and fractured my back and am now strapped up – so my next preach will be some time off!’

The other finalists were Philip Sudworth from Wigan and Katrina Clifford, from West Ewell, Surrey.         

Now in its sixth year the competition aims to promote the art of sermon writing and preaching and is open to all Christian denominations.

Ecumenical in outlook, Preach covers a topical theme in each edition to help preachers understand and explore current issues in a Christian context.

Photo: Sermon of the Year 2021 winner Catharine Hughes

LWPT are on stand A20 at CRE National 2021

Seminar Guide – See the complete guide to seminars and special features at CRE National 2021

Welcome Back – See an online version of the CRE National 2021 ‘Welcome Back’ brochure

Our next exhibitions

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

CRE South West 2022
23-24 February 2022
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE News

Click here for CRE News

Your new 60-page products and services guide. Nothing beats reading it!

Dave HallByDave Hall

The day Helen asked for a house – and was offered two

Helen Syrop read a news article about homelessness and wanted to do something in Bradford.

She rang CRE National 2021 exhibitor Green Pastures and asked if they could buy a house to help her. She was asked: ‘What if we buy you two?’ 

‘Housing the homeless is an extremely rewarding job,’ said Helen. ‘It’s very beautiful to work and walk with people through the ups and downs of their lives.

Vaslef (above), for example, had no home and was sleeping in a Bradford park. He had one set of clothes and no jacket and decided to end his life. However, through the partnership of Green Pastures and Hope Housing, he was given a home and support. He calls Helen ‘an angel.’ 

‘It’s me every day, a very big thank you – thank you God!’ said Vaslef.

Solicitor Richard Norridge believes truly ethical investments are very hard to come by – but the one set up by Green Pastures is the best he has come across.

The fund was set up 11 years ago and now works with more than 75 churches and Christian charities to provide homes and support for 1,100 people who had been homeless.

The Green Pastures Community Benefit Society Limited (CBS) is an Exempt Charity registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. Through this vehicle, the CBS issues loan stock to investors.

Subscriptions for loan stock inject cash into the CBS which uses the money to purchase and build property, often in conjunction with other sources of finance. Investors select an interest rate in the range of 0 to 4 per cent p.a. for investments of 1 to 4 years, or in the range of 0 to 5 per cent p.a. for terms of five years and over.

For every £15,000 invested, one person is housed and supported. By selecting less than the maximum return, more homeless people are helped. 

Green Pastures began when Pastor Pete Cunningham found people sleeping under the Southport pier. He felt challenged by the Lord to put his hand in his own pocket and cashed in his small pension. Church member Vicki Woodley re-mortgaged and together they put a deposit on two flats to house two people. Green Pastures was born. 

The vision grew greater than they ever imagined.  Twenty years later, the same passion to release churches to eradicate local homelessness burns brightly.

Green Pastures are on stand Y1 at CRE National 2021

Pastor Pete Cunningham will speak on Ending Homelessness in the UK (3pm, Tue 12 Oct)

Seminar Guide – See the complete guide to seminars and special features at CRE National 2021

Welcome Back – See an online version of the CRE National 2021 ‘Welcome Back’ brochure

Our next exhibitions

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

CRE South West 2022
23-24 February 2022
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE News

Click here for CRE News

Your new 60-page products and services guide. Nothing beats reading it!

Dave HallByDave Hall

‘The church doesn’t talk about porn, so I assumed I was a freak…’

With statistics showing that one in two male Christians views porn in secret, Mike Genung, founder of a ministry to people struggling with sex addiction, will be at CRE National 2021 to show how churches can engage with those hurting from porn and adultery.

Mike had given up church after being molested as a 14-year-old by a trusted female adult from his church. He became consumed by sex, drugs and alcohol. The sexual side included porn-fuelled masturbation, promiscuity, sex with prostitutes, an affair with a married mother and visits to strip clubs.

Mike Genung of Blazing Grace

‘In spite of spending years in church, God showed me I’d never gone after him,’ he recalls. ‘I’d sought women, ministry success, money, Bible knowledge, and other things, but not the Lord himself.’

That vision changed his outlook, saved his marriage and led to a new motivation to help others. He started a support group for men in 2000 and in 2004 set up the Blazing Grace website.

Today Blazing Grace has grown into an international ministry offering counselling for individuals and couples. He has written seven books, speaks in churches and other organisations in the US and Europe and leads retreats and conferences. The Rogue Christian, his seventh book, will be available at CRE National.

‘Because the church doesn’t talk about sex or porn, I assumed I was a freak,’ he maintains. ‘Then I stumbled on surveys showing that 50 per cent of Christian men were viewing porn and wondered how so many Christians could be struggling with a sin so devastating that it destroys marriages – yet no one talks about it?’

Recent surveys show that two-thirds of Christian men view pornography – and those are just the honest ones. Christian women struggle with it, too. In fact, women are the fastest-growing segment when it comes to viewing pornography.

As well as speaking at CRE, Mike will lead a one-day seminar at Sure Hope Church in Old Colwyn, Conwy, North Wales on October 9. Anyone can attend. The contact came as 

as a result of a meeting between Mike and a visitor to CRE Midlands in March 2020. He would also welcome the opportunity to lead seminars in other churches – including London – when he is in the UK for CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct). Interested church leaders can contact him at the Blazing Grace website.

Blazing Grace are on stand K5 at CRE National 2021

Mike Genung will speak on ‘How churches can engage with those hurting from porn and adultery’ (11am, Tue 12 Oct)

Seminar Guide – See the complete guide to seminars and special features at CRE National 2021

Welcome Back – See an online version of the CRE National 2021 ‘Welcome Back’ brochure

Our next exhibitions

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

CRE South West 2022
23-24 February 2022
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE News

Click here for CRE News

Your new 60-page products and services guide. Nothing beats reading it!

Dave HallByDave Hall

Dad’s Army’s tetchy vicar set for CRE debut

The oldest surviving member of BBC TV comedy Dad’s Army is celebrating his 90th Birthday at CRE National 2021. 

Frank Williams, cast as Walmington-on-Sea’s tetchy vicar, will guest on Cindy’s Sofa along with fellow sit-com star Sue Hodge (‘Allo ‘Allo) on Wed 13 Oct.

In real life Frank may not have turned round his collar but he has a strong Christian faith and a lifelong commitment to the church.

‘Although I have spent many years in various film and television roles, being part of Croft and Perry’s classic comedy is hard to beat,’ he said. ‘It’s always a great privilege to take our Dad’s Army event into churches, and the occasional Easter cruise organised by Christians in Entertainment director Chris Gidney. We’ve been doing this for around 20 years now and it pulls in people who wouldn’t normally go to church. The outside world discovers that Christians can laugh and have fun, as well!’

In fact, Frank has worked with many of the greats, including Tommy Cooper, Harry Worth, Dick Emery, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise. At CRE Frank will sign copies of his best-selling autobiography, Vicar to Dad’s Army – and thinks that Mr Mainwaring would be proud to see that even at 90, he is far from retiring! You can see his recent showreel here.

Frank’s appearance at CRE National is part of the Arts Centre Group’s 50th anniversary celebrations in association with Christians in Entertainment. For decades, the arts had been considered a poor choice for serious-minded Christians – until a small group of musicians, actors and broadcasters, including Nigel Goodwin, Sir Cliff Richard and Rev Cindy Kent MBE, formed the Arts Centre Group in 1971 with a simple aim: supporting artists to be ‘fully professional and fully Christian’.

Still going strong, Rev Cindy, CRE’s ‘queen of conversation’, will use the event to discuss the role of the arts in both Christian and mainstream circles with a special focus on encouraging the next generation of aspiring performers, broadcasters, authors and journalists.

Seminar Guide – See the complete guide to seminars and special features at CRE National 2021

Welcome Back – See an online version of the CRE National 2021 ‘Welcome Back’ brochure

Our next exhibitions

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

CRE South West 2022
23-24 February 2022
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE News

Click here for CRE News

Your new 60-page products and services guide. Nothing beats reading it!