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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

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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

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Torch Trust sets sights on 50,000 UK churches

Some 250 people a day are diagnosed with sight loss – but a click on this mapreveals much of the UK population miles from a church offering inclusive facilities.

CRE National 2019 exhibitor Torch Trust aims to change all that. Currently celebrating 60 years of seeing those living with sight loss grow in faith and thrive in Christian community, the trust is looking to partner with more than 50,000 churches across the UK. It will present Sight Loss Friendly Church at CRE National 2019 – an initiative to equip and enable churches to consider the needs of those with sight loss, providing free expert advice and guidance, workshops, training and accessible Christian literature and resources. 

‘We can’t wait to meet you at Sandown Park (stand B4) as part of Churches for All,’ said Torch Trust’s Melissa Armstrong.‘Don’t leave CRE without chatting about the particular needs in your church.’

For the first time, the CRE visitor handbook will be available in large print and braille versions (at the reception and at the Churches for All stands), courtesy of CRE and Torch Trust.Torch Trust also produce a wide range of helpful material including braille and large print bibles, audio and electronic media. It also runs a postal library providing a regular supply of Christian books.

• The Torch Trust (stand B4) are part of Churches for All (stands B3 to B5) at CRE National 2019

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Mental health: High time churches ‘learned the language’

An eight-week course, taking participants on a journey discussing faith and mental health, will be introduced at CRE National 2019.

Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, from Vancouver, Canada, have found their message is crossing continents – hence their first visit to Sandown Park.

‘Churches rarely have the language to talk about the subject, and this has meant that people experiencing mental health challenges have felt isolated and misunderstood,’ explained Sanctuary’s Kate Dewhurst.

The course challenges the stigma associated with mental health and considers the importance of companionship, self-care and the community in the recovery journey.

When a preacher’s daughter was diagnosed with bipolar II diagnosis, she felt exposed to the stigma surrounding mental illness and was convinced the church would be no different.

‘Ashamed, fearful of judgment and convinced I was the only one struggling, I kept my diagnosis under wraps,’ she admitted. ‘I self-stigmatized. Why wasn’t my faith enough to balance the chemical makeup of my brain or calm my worries? From the beginning, Sanctuary’s passion for spreading mental health awareness within faith communities was evident. Words cannot express the freedom that comes from knowing that one is not weak, not of little faith, and most importantly, not alone.’

The Sanctuary Course, with an introductory 60 per cent off available to visitors at CRE National 2019, is a small group resource designed to help initiate and guide conversations about mental health and faith. 

‘It is a starting point, creating a base of shared knowledge from which churches can explore the next steps,’ said Kate Dewhurst. ‘Perhaps most importantly, through the simple act of talking openly, the course helps churches create safe spaces for people to share their mental health stories and receive support in community.’

• Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries are on stand S109 at CRE National 2019

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Tackling taboos: Sarah calls for honest conversations about sex

With relationships and sex education now statutory in schools, Sarah Smith (pictured) will be at CRE National 2019 to help Christian educators deliver this important topic in schools, churches and other youth settings.

In her seminar ‘Awkward, but essential: How to talk effectively about relationships and sex in church’ (2pm, Tue 15 Oct), visitors will gain an insight into the relational and sexual health issues young people face today. 

‘It is vital that parents/carers and youth leaders tackle topics often seen as taboo and become more effective in talking about bodies, relationships and sex,’ said Sarah, CEO of acet UK, a Christian charity delivering relationships and sex education in secondary schools and training to youth workers, teachers and parents. 

Her book A Guide to Growing Up is published by CRE National 2019 exhibitor Lion Hudson and features detailed chapters on topics such as masturbation and same-sex attraction. The book aims to support parents in talking to their children and is an essential guide in any young person’s journey – ‘a guide they can go back to time and again.’

• acet are on stand YZ2 at CRE National 2019

• Lion Hudson are on stand FC10 at CRE National 2019

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Embracing martyrdom: London lecture will be informative and challenging

The age of martyrs is not over.

So said Bishop Thomas of Qussia – and it provides the theme of Embrace the Middle East’s Annual Lecture (6.30pm, Thu 4 July, St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, London).


Timothy Radcliffe, OP and His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, OBE, both Embrace patrons, will share their personal insights on the theme before opening the floor to questions.

‘The evening promises to be informative and challenging,’ said Embrace’s Kerensa McCollough, ‘inviting us to think about what laying down our own lives for the sake of the gospel might mean today.’


Timothy Radcliffe is a Roman Catholic priest and Dominican friar of the English Province, and former Master of the Order of Preachers from 1992 to 2001. He is the only member of the English Province of the Dominicans to have held the office since the order’s foundation in 1216.

The day after hundreds of Christians were killed in a series of terror attacks on churches in Sri Lanka – and just weeks after the mass shooting at a mosque in New Zealand – Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, issued a powerful appeal urging all faiths to stand together.

Tickets for Embrace the Middle East’s Annual Lecture (£5) must be booked in advance.

• Embrace the Middle East are on stand S151 at CRE National 2019

> Who’s exhibiting at CRE National 2019?
> Book tickets for CRE National 2019

Photo of St Margaret’s, Westminster, on the CRE homepage: Urban Biker Marc

Dave HallByDave Hall

Wall of prayer: CRE responds to Archbishop’s call

A wall of prayer is CRE’s response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for five days of prayer as we approach Brexit.

Visitors to CRE North will be invited to post their prayers on the wall (stand P66) following Bridging the Brexit Divide, a plenary led by Andy Flannagan of Christians in Politics (12pm, Wed 13 Mar), the day after Prime Minister Teresa May brings her latest Brexit Agreement with Brussels before Parliament. On the first day of CRE North, MPs may also be asked to vote on whether or not to leave the EU without a deal.

‘It is very easy to feel paralysed by both the complexity and toxicity of the issues surrounding Brexit,’ said Andy. ‘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.’

Being on our knees won’t just change the Brexit situation, it will change us – ‘and that might give us just a chance to be peacemakers and bridge-builders.’
 
Those taking part in Bridging the Brexit Divide include Cllr Tanya Burch from Salford, Methodist minister Rev Ian Rutherford from Manchester and Irish singer and former MEP for Connacht-Ulster, Dana.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has welcomed the initiative at Event City.

‘CRE is an event that brings together churches from many different traditions and persuasions,’ he said. ‘It is an ideal place for positive discussion and agenda setting. My prayer is that we all find wisdom, courage, integrity and compassion for our political leaders and MPs, for reconciliation and a fresh and uniting vision for everyone.’

• Bridging the Brexit Divide is a plenary led by Andy Flannagan of Christians in Politics (12pm, Wed 13 Mar)

• The Brexit Prayer Wall will be on the CRE Prayer Team stand P66

> Book tickets for CRE North

> Who’s exhibiting at CRE North 2019?
> See the seminar programme for CRE North 2019
> Who’s exhibiting at CRE Sandown Park 2019?

Dave HallByDave Hall

Sports outreach: How to get the ball rolling in your church

Several organisations will be at CRE North to explain how churches can use sport to expand their ministry. They are:

Christians in Sport – a worldwide operation in 163 towns and cities

Sports Chaplaincy UK – who encourage Christians to become chaplains for professional and amateur clubs in a variety of sports and keep-fit organisations

Ambassadors Football – with 30 years’ experience helping churches bring hope in Christ to communities through our national game

They will share stand A36 at CRE North (and combine to run Your Church and Sports Ministry (4pm, Wed Mar 13), a seminar which will also include input from Scripture Union.

‘This is the ideal opportunity for anyone to find out how they can be involved with one or all of the organisations, to extend local church ministry,’ explained Warren Evans, chief executive of Sports Chaplaincy UK, who is chairing the seminar.

Now operative for 25 years, Sports Chaplaincy UK have chaplains in place at professional and amateur clubs involving football, rugby league and union, cricket, athletics and horse racing – as well as gyms and keep-fit clubs. It has also provided chaplains for major international sports such as the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, world championships in both rugby codes, amateur boxing and athletics.

Christians in Sport was formed in the 1980s and thousands of sporting Christians – including many top professionals – are supported by the organisation in a highly competitive world. Many members also provide valued support at the world’s top sporting occasions – from Wimbledon to the Olympics.

Ambassadors Football serves more than 300 churches creating evangelistic opportunities through church teams, competitions or challenge matches.

Scripture Union are reaching young people and children in schools, churches and community sports. They’ll be demonstrating how they do it at Event City as well as suggesting special community events churches can get involved in during the Ashes cricket series, taking place in the country during the summer.

All the organisations run training days when participants can meet other sporting enthusiasts and learn how to use sport in ministry.

One-time chaplain to Manchester City Football Club, the Rt Revd Tony Porter, Anglican Bishop of Sherwood, said: ‘As the Archbishops’ Sport Ambassador I am thrilled to see these marvellous organisations working alongside each other. When sport and faith come together it creates new opportunities for mission and to tell people about the love of Jesus.’

• Christians in Sport, Sports Chaplaincy UK and Ambassadors Football are on stand A36 at CRE North
• Your Church and Sports Ministry (4pm, Wed Mar 13)

> Book tickets for CRE North

> Who’s exhibiting at CRE North 2019?
> See the seminar programme for CRE North 2019
> Who’s exhibiting at CRE Sandown Park 2019?