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Dave HallByDave Hall

Hot summer leads to call-out surge

The hottest August on record led to a record number of lightning storms which kept family firm CES Lighting on full charge.

‘We received half a dozen calls related to lightning strikes on some of the nation’s major churches, when we would normally get no more than a couple,’ said Ryan Slessenger, senior partner in the company. ‘Lightning was not the only problem. Many churches suffered the effects of electrical surges from the lightning, others surges in power from sources outside.’

The company was well equipped to deal with the flood of calls, however, having successfully helped All Saints, Maidstone overcome the major effects of a lightning strike last year which wiped out the church’s lighting system and damaged much of the internal wiring. The church – which lost its spire in 1739 when struck by lightning and was never rebuilt – needed extensive repairs and replacement of the internal wiring.

‘We installed a lightning protection system which directed the lightning into the ground and then installed electrical surge protection devices to protect against another strike, and electrical surges caused by other means,’ said Ryan, who has been with CES Lighting since 1995 apart from two years when he was electrical officer on the mission ship MS Logos 11.

It was an early warning for the requests which came in during August as the severe hot weather resulted in a record number of lightning storms.

‘We were kept busy installing new lighting protection systems and internal electrical work,’ said David Burch, the company’s lighting design expert. He helped in his father’s electrical business as a child before branching out on his own and joining CES Lighting five years ago.

‘Surge protection devices are now a requirement of the regulations for new installations – and are strongly recommended for all existing systems,’ he explained. ‘While the system as a whole is protected, more sensitive electrical items such as audio-visual, lighting dimming systems, organs and clock mechanisms, may want to consider extra protection.’

All CES Lighting’s work during the pandemic is being done using all necessary protection.

Click here for more information

• CES Lighting are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct, Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey)

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021
23-24 June 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

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

Dave HallByDave Hall

One small step to effective mission

The beginning of a major church building project can seem daunting but Phil Winch of CPL Architects thinks the simple answer is – take the first step.

Architectural design, technical complexity, site constraints, complex approvals, funding, procurement – what do you when faced with a challenge of this scale?

‘The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” It’s the same for many churches,’ explained Phil. ‘The beginning of a major building project can often seem like beginning a journey of a thousand miles.’ 

The answer is to put one foot in front of the other.

There is a well‐established process for the design and procurement of building projects, defined most famously by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in the Plan of Work, namely:

  • the envisioning and briefing process
  • feasibility analysis and research
  • option appraisal
  • consultation and concept design development 

After this comes statutory and other approvals, technical design and production information. Finally, there’s project procurement, with contractor selection, tendering, construction and handover. 

‘These are all significant steps in the design and construction process to deliver a first class building to meet the needs identified in the initial vision of a church project,’ said Phil. ‘You might say that building design is in fact a journey of a thousand small steps.’

One way in which this scheme can be applied is in the phasing of construction projects where funding is limited or being raised over a period time. 

‘We have been working with members of Dunchurch Baptist Church (pictured) in Rugby,’ said Phil. ‘They have a vision for a new building to replace an old, prefabricated structure. Phase One, the weatherproof shell is now complete, allowing Phase Two, the internal fit‐out work, to proceed under separate contract to suit funding at their own pace.’

Phasing is a simple and yet powerful way of achieving a significant building project, in a series of manageable steps.

‘If you have a vision for a new building project, do let us know if we can help you take that first step,’ said Phil.

Click here for more information

• CPL Architects will be exhibiting at CRE South West 2021 (17-18 Mar 2021) and CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct, Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey)

Photo: Dunchurch Baptist Church, Rugby

CRE At Home

See the CRE At Home resources guide!

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021
23-24 June 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

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

Dave HallByDave Hall

Lockdown has been a grind, especially for coffee producers

The pandemic has affected billions across the globe ­– not least the farmers and communities in coffee and tea-growing regions.

‘Fairtrade have been working hard to support producers, farmers and their families,’ said Kingdom Coffee’s Darren Rayner. ‘And during lockdown we’ve found a way to deliver Fairtrade coffee and tea to the home market, so you can enjoy a lovely cup of Clipper tea or Fairtrade coffee while you join your congregation online.

‘We’ve missed seeing everyone at summer events and while a small number of churches have returned to offering socially-distanced tea and coffee, we await a time when we can get back together, sing and freely enjoy a cup of coffee together after worship.’

Kingdom Coffee was founded in 1998 to promote Fairtrade and fairness. More than 20 years on, the company continues to deliver products that are Fairtrade, ethical, sustainable, high quality and yet affordable.

‘Our new range of coffee equipment from brand leading names like Bodum, Hario and Pezzetti will help you produce an excellent cup of filter coffee at home,’ said Darren. ‘We’ve also introduced 500g bags of two of our popular beans – Fairtrade Blue Mountain and Ire Mocha Italia for those that like to grind their own coffee beans!’

For discerning tea drinkers, Clipper were recently praised for their sterling work in offering plastic (polypropylene) free recyclable and biodegradable teabags and string and tagged enveloped teas. Clipper are one of the very few tea companies not to bleach their teabags – so you just great tasting Fairtrade and organic teas – with no added nasties!

For more information click here.

• Kingdom Coffee will be exhibiting at CRE South West 2021 (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 Mar) and CRE National 2021 (Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, 12-14 Oct)

CRE At Home

See the CRE At Home resources guide!

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

Packer pulls out all the stops

From cathedrals to churches, schools to private homes, one man pulls out all the stops to keep the music flowing.

Tony Packer started Viscount Organs Wales 12 years ago, to coax new life into traditional organs or, where necessary, suggest a suitable replacement.

‘We are a unique, refreshing and dynamic professional team of organists and technicians whose aim is to help people get the very best from their chosen instrument,’ said Tony, 59, who took to playing with electronics as a ten-year-old and moved into the business as an adult. ‘We help from a simple home practice organ to school, church or cathedral! We are the only company to offer high quality instruments custom-built in the UK, at surprisingly modest prices.’

Tony, who has 34 years’ experience in the field, worked in Las Vegas – where such equipment abounds in many guises. Among some of the artists he worked for were Sammy Davis Junior, Willie Nelson and Barbara Mandrell – specifically her giant stage piano that Tom Hanks played in the hit movie ‘Big’. He then returned to ply his trade in the UK music industry.

‘We will ensure that your instrument is perfectly installed, voiced and tonally finished to the highest standard when installed in its new home, combining this with technical support and a solid warranty,’ he said. ‘Our in-house engineers are always available to guide and assist you for any operational, servicing and general maintenance needs.’The company can work in any situation, fully ensuring that social distancing and hygiene are top of the list.

‘In these unprecedented times, why not let us be part of your endeavours to reunite our world in music and singing?’ said Tony. Click here for more information.

• Viscount Organs will be exhibiting at CRE South West (17-18 Mar 2021, Westpoint, Exeter)

Photo: Members of Carmel Baptist Chapel in Pontrhydfendigaid in Ceredigion, Wales with their Viscount Chorum 40 – a very popular model in Welsh chapels.

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

Flash Gordon to George Floyd: it’s all in Good News

Lockdown meant outreach newspaper Good News published just one edition, rather than its usual four monthly issues – but the September issue is back with a bang.

Having weathered both lack of sales and the closure of its printer, the publishers are thanking God for finding a new printer and returning to monthly publications.

‘As a registered charity we run Good News on a shoestring, existing purely on sales of the paper rather than fundraising, so to miss three issues was a financial hit,’ said editor Andrew Halloway. ‘To see our printer go under was a further blow. But God has taken us through that and many churches who use the paper have kindly given gifts to sustain our ministry.

‘In addition, we took a step of faith in doubling the number of papers we normally give away free to prisons and have seen people also generously support that outreach.’

With the testimony of a professor leading the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine, stories on George Floyd and racism, as well as a farmer’s testimony as harvest approaches, the September issue is relevant to the times. There is also a sports page, including the testimony of a Nottingham Forest player and an interview with Flash Gordon star Sam Jones – as the sci-fi movie celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Good News is ideal for door-to-door distribution but also works alongside any other form of church outreach. And at only 15p per copy plus p&p, it’s very cost effective.

Click here for more information.

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

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

Gos called home

Tributes are pouring in for Gospatric Home, founder of the Christian Resources Exhibition, who died on Easter Saturday, 11 April.

Known simply as ‘Gos’, the 87-year-old had heart surgery before Easter and returned home from hospital to recover but was re-admitted on Good Friday with complications and died shortly afterwards.

His son, Olly, diocesan secretary of the diocese of Bristol said: ‘He was a man full of hope and love, always seeing life, potential and giving thanks in all circumstances. He achieved so much for so many. We’ll miss him so much and it is tough not to be together while we trust he is risen in glory.’

Theologian John Drane said: ‘Gos was a true Christian entrepreneur if ever there was one. He certainly made a difference to very many lives, including mine. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.’

Cindy Kent MBE said: ‘Gos was a great man who made such a contribution to Christianity in the UK. He was a real visionary. I was sad to hear this news.’

Singer Sandra Godley said: ‘We owe a rich depth of gratitude to a wonderful person.’

It was while recovering from a hip replacement operation many years before that Gos heard someone say ‘pick up and read’ – the same words given to St Augustine. But where Augustine picked up the Bible, Gos took hold of the UK Christian Handbook!

‘It wasn’t the voice of God but Ernie Barnett, owner of a chain of Christian bookshops!’ recalled Gos. ‘Laid up for days on end, Ernie suggested I read the UK Christian Handbook. I did – from cover to cover. There were 5,000 entries spanning an unbelievable range of publishers, church suppliers, charities, architects, missions, newspapers, magazines, bookshops and much more. I realised there was no event where they could bring their products, services and ideas to the churches that needed to see them.’ 

In such unlikely circumstances, CRE, Europe’s leading series of Christian exhibitions, was conceived. The last exhibition Gos attended, as honorary president, was CRE National 2019 at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey.

Steve Goddard, owner of CRE, said: ‘I was privileged to attend the first exhibition in London in 1985, never dreaming I would one day own it. Gos had the heart of a lion and the tenacity of a terrier. But above all he was a gentleman in the true meaning of the term. He played a quiet but pivotal role in transforming the face of the UK church through CRE. Tens of thousands of people have benefitted from his vision.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Diana and the whole Home family, especially at this time of enforced social isolation.’

Dave HallByDave Hall

Be old, be strong: ‘Acidic ageism’ in churches condemned

Should churches asked older parishioners to leave to attract younger families?

It was widely reported to have happened at Grove United Methodist Church in Minnesota recently.

Louise Morse, media and communications manager of CRE Midlands exhibitor Pilgrims’ Friend Society, believes ageism is all too common within the UK church.

‘Older people have lived through decades of acidic ageism,’ she said. ‘Many have left churches because the churches are deliberately reaching out to younger people.’ She told Premier Radio that the decision is ‘unscriptural’ and sends a ‘dreadful message to atheists’ that the older generation do not belong. Referencing the books of Peter and Titus, Morse believes that different generations come together for a healthy church.

‘The Bible says that the glory of the young is their strength,’ she said. ‘The glory of older people is their wisdom and there’s no way you can learn wisdom unless you live through experiences. You can acquire knowledge, but you don’t learn wisdom. God has made specific roles for older people to cascade that knowledge to the young.’

Louise’s book What’s Age Got To Do With It?, which shows readers how to recognise and combat ageism, will be available on the Pilgrims’ Friend Society stand at CRE Midlands 2020.

• Pilgrims’ Friend Society are on stand E12 at CRE Midlands 2020

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Calling alert: how faith can get a good reception

A recent survey discovered that we spend three hours and 23 minutes every day looking at phone screens – the equivalent of 50 days a year.

Is there a connection between our phones and our faith – a question to be discussed by Nigel Bolitho of Oak Hill College in his seminar Connect your faith with what you watch, read and play (11am, Thu 5 Mar).

‘Phones are only one part of a changing culture,’ said Nigel. ‘There are many aspects in our day-to-day lives that can often seem unconnected to our faith in terms of our actions and attitudes – park runs to packaging, gaming to gastronomy, box sets to boxing.’

Traditionally, the church has responded to culture in a number of conflicting ways, outlined by Richard Niebuhr in his classic book Christ and Culture – such as being against or above it, or attempting to transform it.

‘But this is not just a faith issue but how we should engage with the people and culture around us,’ said Nigel, whose college is part of CRE’s Study Zone. ‘Dutch missiologist JH Bavink identified five magnetic points we can connect between our faith and culture.’

Nigel will explore the work of Niebuhr and Bavink, and the apostle Paul’s approach when visiting Athens in the book of Acts, to help us answer the question.

Oak Hill College, based in north London, trains men and women for ministry in Anglican and independent churches, for pastoral ministry, work with children and young people and cross-cultural engagement, in Britain and around the world.

• Oak Hill are on stand SZ7 in the Study Zone at CRE Midlands 2020

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
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Dave HallByDave Hall

Post-Brexit: Andy pens worship song calling us to be reconciled

A song that encourages churches to build unity in post-Brexit Britain has been written and recorded by CRE contributor Andy Flannagan.

Reconciled highlights the need for repentance and intentional, bold relationship building with our neighbours,’ said Andy. ‘I hope it will be sung by many churches and be a useful tool as church leaders work out how to challenge their people to be prayerfully and politically involved in our nation.’

Andy, director of Christians in Politics, spoke on Brexit at CRE North in Manchester last March.

‘It is very easy to feel paralysed by both the complexity and toxicity of the issues surrounding it all,’ he said. ‘We may feel as if we are sliding towards chaos but we follow a God who since the dawn of time has brought order from chaos. It shouldn’t scare us. If you think we are in chaotic times, try living in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar!’

Order emerges from chaos through restored relationships, believes Andy.

‘The cross sits at the centre of history because it makes possible the reconciliation between us and God and between us and those who may not feel like “us” anymore,’ he said. ‘There is currently a real danger of a cultural divide becoming a chasm. We need to build relationships across divides.’

Reconciled can be heard on YouTube and the chord sheets and lyrics can be downloaded from andyflan.com

Pic © Virginia Lattul

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
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Dave HallByDave Hall

Good news! Good news! Read all about it!

It’s the colourful outreach tool that is bucking the trend towards digital media.

UK monthly newspaper Good News has sold almost one million copies every year for the past six years. Used by churches of all denominations, the colourful, breezy publication features stories about celebrities and ‘ordinary’ people – showing how the Christian faith transforms lives.

Run by a small team as a registered charity, Good News started from scratch in 2001 and now sells more than 77,000 copies every month, with the Christmas edition rising to more than 100,000.

‘We are not publicising these sales figures to crow about them but to let local congregations struggling to reach their communities know that other churches have found a way to do it,’ said editor Andrew Halloway. ‘Good News distribution is a tried and tested method.’

The team receive a regular flow of responses from readers who have made faith commitments and from churches who relate how Good News provides opportunities for meaningful conversations.

One user in Orpington, Kent, said: ‘Praise the Lord that you keep the paper interesting to non-church folk. I deliver it to a number of people who live nearby and out of 80 people I’ve asked so far, more than 70 per cent like to read it, and only 26 per cent say they don’t want it.’

Free sample copies will be available at CRE North.

• Good News are on stand P34 at CRE Midlands where free sample copies will be available

Who’s exhibiting at CRE Midlands 2020
Book tickets for CRE Midlands 2020