CRE News

ByDave Hall

CRE hits the long and winding road to Liverpool

For the first time in its 38-year history the Christian Resources Exhibition will hit the long and winding road to Liverpool.

CRE North 2023 takes place at the Exhibition Centre, Liverpool, on 3-4 May.

The purpose-built venue is in a stunning waterfront location on the banks of the Mersey. Liverpool city centre, two famous cathedrals and numerous places of historical and cultural significance are within walking distance – including the Beatles Story.

‘We couldn’t ask for a better place to hold the exhibition,’ said CRE owner Steve Goddard. ‘With our registered offices in nearby St Helens it really is a homecoming and we have already received a warm welcome from local church leaders and members alike.

‘Our last exhibition in the north was at Event City, Manchester in 2019. The pandemic disrupted our plans but we are now delighted to announce our return to the region.’

Rt Revd Beverley Mason, Bishop of Warrington

‘It’s great to hear Liverpool is hosting CRE North 2023. The event will showcase current Christian work and ministry, spotlight justice initiatives and draw us into the marketplace of Christian resources,’ said the Rt Revd Beverley Mason, Bishop of Warrington (above). ‘There’ll be much to do and see and it will prove a fun and interesting day, whether you come on your own or with friends and colleagues.’

There are 1450 parking spaces available in the on-site Kings Dock car park, with accessible bays and electric charging points on every floor. Lime Street station is just a short taxi or bus ride away with direct services to London that take a little over two hours.

‘In line with our other regional exhibitions, we expect half the visitors to be CRE first-timers – providing a fresh audience for our 140+ exhibitors,’ said Steve. ‘And for organisations that have struggled from the effects of Covid-19, our new CRE Bursary is an option to help them meet the costs of a stand.’ 

Potential exhibitors are invited to contact the CRE sales team: Carol on 0161 250 2467 ( or James on 0161 250 2306 ( Visitor registration will open in early autumn.

Find out more

Please click the links below to view the floor plans and price list for CRE North 2023:


ByDave Hall

Let your garden grow their future

Proud of your garden? Why not twin it with an African family’s life-saving allotment?

It’s a new initiative from Ripple Effect, recently renamed from Send a Cow, a charity started in 1988 when Christian farmers answered an appeal from Ugandans desperately short of nutritious food after a long civil war. The original vision was simple and practical: sending cows to Ugandan families whose livestock had been lost. But that simple project has blossomed, enabling determined families to learn how to grow enough food on a small plot of land, to feed their family and also provide enough to sell for other necessities.

It has now grown beyond Uganda to five other African countries – Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Zambia.

Ann Hatton, Ripple Effect’s church development executive, said: ‘We are a farming expertise charity, teaching smallholder farmers – most of them women – how to improve the productivity of their land so they can provide for their families. Our training work has evolved and starts with essential social development, tackling the sharing of work and responsibilities within families. We also cover health and safety issues, including how to deal with Covid-19.’

Renamed Ripple Effect this year, the organisation no longer sends cows to Africa – whatever livestock is placed is sourced locally. But UK Christians are now invited to twin their garden and plant hope for a family in Migori, in Kenya. A £60 donation provides three years’ training in sustainable organic farming. From a small kitchen garden, families develop business skills to build a future with wider opportunities.

Donors get the pleasure of helping to give a new start to a family in rural Kenya and also receive a wooden plaque to mount in their own garden – a vegetable-growing guide from no-dig expert Charles Dowding.

‘Some wildflower seeds also give you a colourful annual reminder of the practical support you have given to others,’ said Ann. Click here to find out more of the project.

‘We were so thrilled to be at CRE South West in February and meet old friends and make many new ones,’ said Ann. ‘As a result, many families in Kenya will get the skills and support they need to change their lives.’

• Ripple Effect (formerly Send a Cow) are on stand F8 at CRE National 2022

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ByDave Hall

Laura’s lessons for traumatised teens

Laura Newall’s course on self-esteem in girls and boys was hot off the press when she opened for business in February – but this brand-new resource touched a nerve-end with visitors at CRE South West.

Exeter-based Laura (pictured far left), was ‘absolutely bowled over by the large number of connections I made at the exhibition and the encouragement I got from so many people.’

In 2014 she went out to Uganda to teach girls and women how to recognise their abilities and self-worth. A life-changing experience, it inspired her to do something similar in the UK.

‘I had been trained as a primary school teacher and my dissertation was on self-esteem in children, so there was already something to go on,’ she explained. Her course for girls and women went down well so she produced a similar course for boys – ‘I have two sons and a daughter – all now grown-up – and knew the problems both faced.’

The new initiative, though well received by a number of schools, churches and other groups, was halted because of Covid-19.

‘It is a face-to-face course which needs a personal link,’ said Laura. ‘Now we are back to nearly normal, things are beginning to take off. Teenagers’ mental health has taken a nose-dive in the pandemic, so it is more important than ever.’

The Inspire Project aims to empower, encourage and equip people to become everything they were created to be by helping them discover the truth about their value and identity as well as God’s purpose for their lives.

‘It is for any person, regardless of whether they have a Christian faith,’ she said. ‘The courses can be used to encourage and equip those already in the church or as an evangelistic tool to reach out to those who are not.’

The courses are primarily targeted towards young people between the ages of 14-18. However, by adapting or changing certain activities, they can also suit children in primary school and people of any age.

Book your tickets to CRE National 2022 – and save up to £5

Photo: Laura Newall (left) at CRE South West

ByDave Hall

To the Sandown foyer, on a wing and a prayer

For the first time visitors to CRE National 2022 will be greeted by a full-sized Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) plane in the foyer.

‘At every exhibition people tell us mission is a key area they are looking to resource in their churches,’ said event director Brett Pitchfork. ‘We thought it was time to put it centre stage!’

In February, 15 organisations from the South West Agencies Network (SWAN) exhibited at CRE South West alongside MAF, under the title Mission on the Map.

‘Over two days in Exeter, a steady stream of visitors came through Mission on the Map,’ said Mike Frith of OSCAR (pictured far left), ‘giving rise to conversations about all aspects of mission, enquiries about serving and supporting and some fantastic networking opportunities.

‘It also enabled many of these organisations to connect/reconnect with their existing contacts/supporters in the south west. One mission organisation reported 55 connections over the two days, significantly more than most places where they exhibit.

‘The success of the venture in Exeter has prompted us to run a similar zone at Sandown Park – this time in pride of place, above the steps in the entrance foyer!’ said Brett.

United Beach Missions, Church Mission Society, OSCAR and OMF are among the organisations already taking part in Mission on the Map at CRE National 2022. Other agencies considering taking a stand should contact the CRE sales team on 0161 240 4500.

Book your tickets to CRE National 2022 – and save up to £5

ByDave Hall

App happy Joanne creates God for Kids

When Joanne Gilchrist’s three daughters were growing up she created activity-based devotions to do with them at bedtime – and the end result is God for Kids, a brand new app for families everywhere.

‘I tested my ideas using paper, colouring pens, questions, puzzles and pictures – and added a big dose of fun,’ explained Joanne, from Sheffield. ‘The girls really enjoyed learning about God in this way.’

Her ideas were so successful she created the free app that involves children and parents in all sorts of adventures, in places like deserts and outer space. They learn more about God’s attributes as they go along.

‘At first I thought of writing a book,’ she explained, ‘but an app is far more appropriate these days. It can be used by a family or the children alone, but each session has a question for youngsters to ask a parent so they are involved in some way. God for Kids was also created so parents themselves learn basic things about God.’

Joanne has now begun to produce small books to accompany the course.

‘These take a bigger view and go a little deeper into exploring questions children ask,’ she said. Her daughters are now 13, 11 and four and the older two help create the various stories with voice-over parts.

Joanne was also sparked into action when helping on an Alpha Course where she found parents perplexed by questions their children were asking. The app and other material she produces aim to help in all these situations.

• Ruach Resources Stand R8 at CRE National 2022

Book your tickets to CRE National 2022 – and save up to £5

ByDave Hall

High hopes for High Leigh

The new premium bedroom accommodation wing and redeveloped Sycamore conferencing suite at High Leigh Conference Centre is now open.

‘We completed work during the pandemic on the construction of the new accommodation wing,’ said Christian Conference Trust’s Mark Rowe. ‘It features 38 environmentally-friendly bedrooms, powered by solar panels and air source heat pumps. Each room is equipped with air-conditioning, luxurious mattresses and elegant bathrooms. The new wing includes several accessible bedrooms and connecting family rooms.’

The redeveloped tower and Sycamore Suite features four new high-tech meeting rooms with views of the extensive gardens, an 80-seater air-conditioned conference hall and an elegant servery and lounge.

‘The new centenary tower houses a large lift, making the stylish first floor conferencing suite fully accessible to all our guests for the first time,’ said Mark.

Combined, these new facilities are available as Signature at High Leigh, a high-end experience for groups of between four and 80 delegates. Guests can use the new luxury facilities for day meetings and residential events.

The Christian Conference Trust (CCT) has three centres:

  • The Hayes in Derbyshire, their largest conference centre on the edge of the Peak District with accommodation for up to 400 delegates
  • High Leigh in a rural setting in Hertfordshire with conference facilities for up to 220 delegates
  • Belsey Bridge in East Anglia, a budget residential centre on the Suffolk/Norfolk border offering group breaks for up to 100 people

• The Christian Conference Trust are on stand C1 at CRE National 2022

Photo: High Leigh Conference Centre

Book your tickets to CRE National 2022 – and save up to £5

ByDave Hall

Racial justice: Lord Boateng to speak at CRE National 2022

Lord Boateng will speak at CRE National 2022 as part of the exhibition’s ongoing discussion on the Windrush legacy.

In July 2021, Lord Boateng was appointed chair the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Racial Justice Commission, to scrutinise the Church of England’s policies, practices and culture in relation to racial justice. 

The Commission reports to the archbishops every six months, with recommendations to help them fulfil their commitment to identify and root out systemic racism in the Church.

On his appointment, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: ‘Lord Boateng is of Ghanaian and Scottish origin, and was the UK’s first black cabinet minister, when appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in May 2002.

‘After serving the House of Commons, he served as the British High Commissioner to South Africa from March 2005 to May 2009. He was introduced as a member of the House of Lords in 2010. We are grateful to Lord Boateng for taking up leadership of the commission.’ 

Lord Boateng said: ‘Racism is a gaping wound in the body of Christ’s church. Our mandate as a commission is not only to bind but to heal.’

Photo: Lord Boateng

Book your tickets to CRE National 2022 – and save up to £5

ByDave Hall

Corn again Tim to open CRE National 2022

Comedian Tim Vine will open CRE National 2022 – ‘as long as I have a red ribbon between two free standing poles and a large pair of scissors!’

Tim’s journey to national fame began in 1995 with his show The Tim Vine Fiasco which won him the Perrier Best Newcomer award at the Edinburgh Festival. In 1996 he returned with a sell-out show called The Tim Vine Shambles. In 1997 he became the first man to appear on Channel Five, following the Spice Girls and co-hosting This is Five with Julia Bradbury, the very first show on the station.

In 2000 he performed in the Royal Variety Show and from 2001 to 2002 appeared in two series of ITV’s The Sketch Show which won a BAFTA. In 2004 he broke the Guinness world record for the most jokes told in an hour (499). More TV appearances followed in the award-winning sitcom Not Going Out (BBC1), from 2006 to 2012. In 2010, Tim won the Dave television award for Best Joke at the Edinburgh Fringe, the only person to have won it twice.

In 2017 Tim Vine Travels Through Time was broadcast on Radio 2 with the world of Robin Hood recreated at Pinewood studios.

Other TV appearances include BBC’s Live at the Apollo, QI, and Celebrity Mastermind. He is a regular on Celebrity Squares (ITV) and Countdown’s Dictionary Corner (Channel 4) and has appeared in several pantomimes. He has also released two books The Tim Vine Joke Book (2010) and The Tim Vine Bumper Book of Silliness (2013).

He is also a Christian.

‘My mum and dad went to an Anglican church a stone’s throw from our house,’ he told Premier Christianity magazine. ‘In fact, I remember my first words, who threw that? Belief in God felt natural. I always enjoyed singing “Oh, how good is the Lord”, and all those great ones like “When the road is rough and steep, fix your eyes upon Jesus.”’

He made a personal decision about faith when he was ‘about 12, at one of those Pathfinder camps’ and, while it remains important to him to this day, he is a little bit suspect about people who appear to have all the answers – and jealous as well.

‘I saw someone on telly who said, “I never have any doubts about my faith.” You think to yourself, it would be lovely to be that cast-iron all the time because that must utterly transform the way you live your life.’

Tim will open CRE and then be interviewed by Steve Legg, editor of Sorted magazine.

• Sorted magazine are on stand Y3 at CRE National 2022

Book your tickets to CRE National 2022 – and save up to £5

Photo: Comedian Tim Vine, who will open CRE National 2022

ByDave Hall

CRE South West: no other way to reach so many in just two days

As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted churches will have to learn a whole new way to present Sunday worship.

So said Simon Thomas, a former Blue Peter and Sky Sports presenter, at the opening of the Christian Resources Exhibition at Westpoint, Exeter (Feb 23-24).

Tim Moyler of Agapé UK at CRE South West

‘When you are leading a service or preaching online it is difficult to decide whether to look at the congregation or the camera but unless you look at the camera those watching cannot feel fully involved,’ said Simon. ‘If you forget about your online audience very soon you will not have one.’

Helping churches develop broadcasting skills was one of the key themes of the exhibition with many visitors attending practical seminars on related subjects. Simon also talked about the death of his wife, Gemma, from acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) – four days after being admitted to hospital in 2017. Subsequently, he launched the Gemma Thomas Fund to raise awareness and money for research. He is now president of Blood Cancer UK.

‘I want to make sure that more people are made aware of the signs and symptoms of all blood cancers so we can improve early diagnosis and give people a fighting chance,’ he said.

Simon paid his first visit to CRE at Sandown Park as a 12-year-old, taken by his late father, a vicar.

‘The event has advanced so much,’ he said. ‘There is something here for every aspect of church life. It really is a must for Christians.’

CRE South West attracted 1521 people (1257 visitors and 264 non-visitor attendees) – numbers which delighted the organisers after the impact of Covid-19.

‘Running an event in the face of a pandemic is a nerve-wracking experience so we are grateful to all our loyal exhibitors and visitors,’ said CRE owner Steve Goddard. ‘In fact, the atmosphere last week was as upbeat as we have ever known with a sense of release and purpose after two years behind closed doors.’

‘It was good to be back together again and exhibit our plane!’ said MAF’s Kevin Crook. ‘We were so encouraged to see a large number of people showing real interest in our work, many of whom had never even heard of us.’

Mike Frith of OSCAR said: ‘We had a steady stream of visitors through Mission on the Map and many great conversations.’

Tim Moyler of Agapé UK, said: ‘There is no other way we could have reached so many leaders and organisations in just two days. Many said our Living & Telling course was just what they were looking for. Our national director was amazed at how many unexpected and fruitful conversations she had.’

‘We were genuinely delighted with the reception we received,’ said David Saint of Action Planning. ‘Although it was inevitably quieter than the national exhibition, we had a large number of very positive conversations. I’m pretty sure we came away with more leads from two days in Exeter than three days in Esher – and we were pretty pleased then, too!’

‘CRE is always an excellent platform for meeting quality contacts,’ said Chris Dunphy of ChurchEcoMiser. ‘Although the past few years have been anything but “normal”, the team know how to attract the right people and this was one of the best exhibitions we have ever done.’

These positive comments were endorsed by visitors.

‘I just want to say a HUGE thank you to all. The event was very well set out and organised, the seminars engaging and informative,’ said Liz Moore, a life coach. ‘It was lovely to network with people I hadn’t seen for a long time – and new people, too. Well done, CRE!’

Rev David Coffey, of Upton Vale Baptist in Torquay, told BBC Radio Devon: ’It’s fascinating to see the number and range of exhibitors at CRE. It reminds you how churches of all denominations form a huge marketplace. Gone are the days churches can go it alone.’

Simon Preece, church warden at St Andrew’s, Kenn in Devon, said: ‘I was so excited and almost overwhelmed by it all with people so willing to exchange ideas.’

• CRE National 2022 will take place at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, 11-13 October. To book a stand click here. Visitor tickets will be available from May 2022.

ByDave Hall

All smiles now, but it took 30 days to find safety

When fighting broke out in their village in South Sudan, Victor and his three brothers were forced to leave – not knowing whether their parents were alive or not.

For 30 days the boys walked tirelessly in search of safely, eventually arriving at a refugee settlement in Northern Uganda. Through the work of CRE South West exhibitor World Vision, Victor, his brothers and many more like them have found shelter and safely. 

All four boys have now been fostered by another refugee family living in the same area and are receiving food and water. Thanks to Angela, their foster mother, they are part of a loving family.

Victor and his brothers

‘Sadly, Victor’s story is not the only one of its kind,’ said World Vision’s Simon Gibbes. ‘An estimated 250 million children and young people currently live in countries affected by armed conflicts. We are fighting for children like Victor every day, to ensure they have access to clean water, food, a safe place to sleep and the chance of a future.

‘Inspired by our Christian faith, we have been working alongside refugee families living in Northern Uganda since fighting broke out. We help children, of all faiths and none, in some of the world’s most dangerous places. We are thrilled to be exhibiting at CRE South West this year, sharing our work with churches throughout the south west.’

A free devotional guide will be available at the World Vision stand and visitors will find out how the charity’s Matthew 25 Discipleship Challenge can help them discover God’s heart for the poor. This is also the subject of a seminar led by Simon at CRE South West (12pm, Wed 23 Feb).

‘Families and individuals are invited to take part in seven days of small challenges, bringing to life Jesus’ call in Matthew 25:35-40,’ said Simon. ‘These daily activities are designed to give people a glimpse into the realities faced by many children, like Victor and his brothers.’

• World Vision are on stand B21 at CRE South West

Book your tickets to CRE South West! – and save up to £5

Seminar Guide – See the complete guide to seminars at CRE South West 2022

Your invitation – See an online version of the CRE South West 2022 brochure

Our next exhibitions

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

CRE National 2022
11-13 October 2022
Sandown Park, Surrey