Musical maestro Roger Jones will join fellow worship leaders Chris Bowater (pictured above) and Lou and Nathan Fellingham at CRE 2024.
Roger became a Christian in the late 1960s through the work of Christian Endeavour but his vision to write musicals began as head teacher at Aston Manor School (now an Academy) in 1973. The school choir performed Jerusalem Joy – a performance he wrote around Jesus’ ride into the holy city on a donkey.
He then wrote five more musicals before going full time into Christian music, becoming director of Christian Music Ministries, publishers of his music and other books. Birmingham-born, Roger also hosts Heart and Soul, a two-hour weekly programme on Brumside Radio, presenting church music. In between, he chats to guests.
‘CRE Midlands in November 23 was a huge success!’ said Roger. ‘So many folks and so churches came together, meeting and sharing with each other. I’m sure CRE 2024 at Milton Keynes will be just as great an occasion.’
Lou and Nathan Fellingham are tireless in their pursuit to write and record powerful songs that lift heads and stir hearts. An internationally-known worship leader, Lou has recorded 10 albums and is known for her prophetic edge and distinctive voice. Part of Emmanuel Church in Brighton, the Fellinghams are actively involved in leading worship there. An accomplished musician, Nathan is also a producer, speaker, pianist and writer. His passion is to combine rich theology with soulful melody.
For nearly 50 years Chris Bowater has been at the heart of the contemporary worship revolution in churches in the UK and many other countries across the world. He is constantly seeking to explore the cutting edge of music and his albums have reflected the strong classical, hymnology and jazz influences of his roots as well as his desire to maintain the best of musical and lyricist traditions.
Chris served on team as worship pastor at New Life Church, Lincoln, now Alive Church and more recently as senior pastor at New Life Church, Sleaford. He lives in Market Harborough and is currently part of the Market Harborough Community Church.
A dream will come true this summer for Steve Barnett, managing director of St Andrew’s Bookshop in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
Book lovers will have an opportunity to meet a number of Christian authors and learn about their latest titles – thanks to the launch of the inaugural St Andrew’s Literature Festival from June 21 to 22.
‘It is a dream I have had for some years,’ said 58-year-old Steve. ‘The project was thwarted by Covid-19 but I decided now was the right time to launch it. Visitors will be able to listen to many top Christian authors who will spend an hour chatting about their books’ themes. There will be an opportunity to purchase the books and have them personally signed.’
The festival will take place in the bookshop itself and three other venues – with seating available for up to 250 people.
Among the authors appearing so far are Paula Gooder, Simon Guillebaud, Patrick Regan, Fiona Castle, Andy Bannister, Cathy Madavan and Andrew Ollerton – with many more expected.
Great Missenden is easily accessible by road and rail (30 minutes from Marylebone Station) and Steve is hoping the festival will become an annual event. St Andrew’s Bookshop – one of the largest Christian bookshops in the country – already attracts many customers, in person and online. The shop has exhibited regularly at CRE since it started and will be ready to serve visitors to CRE 2024 in Milton Keynes in October.
On an historical note: it was the St Andrew’s Bookshop which provided the late Gospatric Home, founder of CRE, with the UK Christian Handbook which gave him to vision to start the exhibition in 1985.
St Andrews Bookshop will be on stand E2 at CRE 2024
Flying over Malawi in 1998, Steven Loots prayed that every village and town he saw through the aeroplane window could have a church with a pastor and mission to reach others.
‘The words uttered in that tiny plane gave birth to a vision of such magnitude that at first I thought it was an impossible dream,’ Steven explained. ‘But slowly, as I prayed over and over, asking the Lord for these small African villages, he confirmed what I was to do for the next few decades.’
Harvesters began by working with established churches, led by faithful men and women who could initiate church planting in the surrounding areas. These churches, known as hubs, were used to train people to share their faith and disciple others.
The Hub Church Planting Model took shape in Lilongwe, Malawi and Chingola, Zambia, with just one person in each place. The first year saw 27 new churches, and by the third year, 125 new churches had been established through evangelism and discipleship.
Harvesters Ministries has now blossomed from a small family enterprise to a global movement with offices and staff spread over five continents. As of early 2024, more than 117,000 churches have been planted, 34,000 student pastors are enrolled, and Harvesters is operating in more than 85 countries, teaching its curriculum in over 64 languages.
‘The huge numbers are exciting,’ said Steven, ‘but best of all is the fact that you can go to a small church in a village far from the city and find believers who are being discipled, who love God and who read and study the word of God and apply it, and then lead other people to Christ and disciple them.’
After 20 years pastoring churches in Wales and Cornwall, Glen Chaplin (see video interview below) became manager of Harvesters UK and will be on the organisation’s stand at CRE 2024.
‘I was on a church mission team and worked with Harvesters Ministries to plant churches in Brazil and Mozambique,’ he said. ‘It was a logical move to take up a role in such a wonderful worldwide mission. From pastoring one church, I now have a role in helping hundreds!’
In 2024, Harvesters aims to plant an additional 35,000 churches, continuing to train pastors, win converts, make disciples and deliver God’s word. At CRE 2024 you will find out how your church can get involved.
‘We are humbly grateful God’s grace and favour,’ said Steven. ‘And now we invite you to journey with us, pray for us and support us – for the work is not done.’
Harvesters are on stand P23 at CRE 2024
Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkypPOnatQU
Main photo: Harvesters’ Glen Chaplin is interviewed by Elliott Frisby of Monkeynut Audiobooks at CRE Midlands 23
The company which brought fun into the Nativity story are about to release a special series of mini QR-coded videos giving a Lego treatment to the events of the first Easter.
Go Chatter Videos exhibited at CRE Midlands 23 in November. ‘We had lots of lovely feedback about the Nativity series from churches countrywide,’ said founder Dan Rackham.
‘The Entertainer toy shops displayed five posters in their stores, each using a QR code to highlight different aspects of the Christmas story.’
Shirley Ashworth, a leader of Mount Zion Church, Cliviger, near Burnley, Lancashire, said: ‘We got the posters at the Go Chatter Video stand at CRE in Solihull and used them in five different places around our village. Parents got as much pleasure out of them as their children! Two Lego Church sessions also attracted a large family attendance at our church.’
It was during his seven years as a volunteer evangelist in Toxteth, Liverpool, that Dan realised the value of videos in working with children – and the way Lego could be incorporated into the mix. Go Chatter Videos was the result.
The new posters will each display a part of the Easter story, using similar Lego characters to highlight a particular feature. The Easter material will be available here.
‘There are already a number of videos which churches can buy and download, highlighting different Bible stories including David and Goliath, Jonah, The Raising of Lazarus and the Easter Story,’ said Dan.
In September the company will launch a training course for 18 to 24-year-olds keen to learn how to create Lego stop-motion videos. The Go Chatter Videos material is one of the few ways to highlight the Bible using Lego as Lego’s creators have a policy against making religious sets. A 4,000-brick model of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was produced recently, legitimised by the set’s architectural focus.
Tickets for CRE 2024 will be available in the Spring
Photo: One of five Nativity story QR code posters in a hairdressers’ window with the Nativity in Lego in the shop window
Following seven months of extensive trials and development, iKnow Church launched their Room Booking tool at CRE Midlands 2023 in November.
Now churches no longer need worry about clashes and double bookings as the tool manages the process. Church administrators can then approve the booking and users can book and pay for rooms directly through the church website.
For parishes in the Church of England, the tool also integrates with A Church Near You.
The iKnow Church team demonstrated to CRE Midlands visitors how the software worked and were on hand to answer questions. They will do the same at CRE 2024 at Milton Keynes (Oct 9-10).
‘We are based in Solihull so it was wonderful to welcome CRE to our home town,’ said iKnow Church founder Kyle Cottington (pictured right). ‘There is nothing like introducing a new product to people, face to face. We had many good conversations with existing customers and met many new decision-makers interested in our software. We are looking forward to CRE 2024 in October when we hope to introduce more helpful services for churches.’
iKnow Church and Church Edit will be on stand F1 at CRE 2024
A high-quality Christian conference centre in Northamptonshire will open this summer.
Highgate House, a new member of the Christian Conference Trust (CCT) family, is a former coaching inn dating from 1663. It has been transformed into an exclusive space for Christian groups to experience residential ministry. With 81 en-suite bedrooms, the venue can accommodate up to 159 adults and 30 children, making it ideal for exclusive-use events.
CCT, an exhibitor at October’s CRE 2024 in Milton Keynes, also run High Leigh in Hertfordshire and The Hayes in Derbyshire. Equipped with large meeting halls, fully catered services and being centrally located, Highgate House will help meet the significant demand from Christian groups for affordable, quality conferencing.
By launching a third centre, the trust will offer 30 per cent more space for Christian groups to benefit from rates that are on average half the price of commercial venues.* This affordability, combined with the warm and friendly Christian welcome synonymous with High Leigh and The Hayes, makes Highgate House a great quality option for those seeking a home-from-home for conferences and group retreats.
John Heasman, chief executive of CCT, said: ‘Having served more than eight million believers since 1910, we are thrilled to announce the opening of Highgate House, our third centre dedicated to serving the church in fellowship and growth. As a not-for-profit charity, we exist to see Christian ministry flourish and believe this new addition will provide a unique and affordable space for groups to gather together and strengthen their faith.’
Highgate House is now accepting bookings and groups are encouraged to secure their space as soon as possible. With wide-open availability, churches and Christian organisations can lock in their preferred dates for this year and 2025.
For booking inquiries and more information, please visit cct.org.uk
* Average saving based on analysis of the per-person midweek price quoted by 22 commercial conferencing venues located within a 90-minute drive of CCT venues on a like-for-like basis. Based on Christian group pricing for events taking place in Spring 2024. Source: CRNet Venuefinder.
The Christian Conference Trust (CCT) will be on stand A6 at CRE 2024
Picture caption: Highgate House, a new member of the Christian Conference Trust (CCT) family
Churches without a regular bookshop can install a pop-up version – thanks to an organisation exhibiting at CRE 2024 (Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, 9-10 Oct) for the first time.
10ofthose offer help to churches wanting to distribute good quality Christian books at a competitive price.
‘I was excited to get a role in a mission-based company helping people find books at a reasonable price that explain the Christian faith,’ said John Robb (pictured), who joined the company 13 years ago. ‘We sell books online or arrange for a bookstall with a range of appropriate titles for a church or special event, such as a conference. We have opportunities to sell at large events such as the Keswick Convention, as well as smaller conferences and one-off stalls in local churches.’
Early on in the company’s existence, it sold books and offered 10 copies of one title at a discount price – to enable churches to buy in bulk at a cheaper price. Special offers on individual titles are still a feature.
The company also has a publishing arm. Authors of biographies, children’s books or short manuscripts that can be used for evangelism, are invited to contact the company with a view to having them published.
Jonathan and Roger Carswell set up 10ofthose to help provide biblical books which were easily understood. Jonathan loves putting solid Christian books in the hands of believers as well as those who haven’t yet come to faith. And his love for good books is infectious.
‘We’re a ministry that hand picks the best books that hold to the Bible, then we discount them so more can go out,’ said Jonathan. ‘We use our profits to support missions around the world. We are passionate about what we recommend because we know that, if books point to Jesus, they can totally change a life. We have experienced that in our own lives and we want people to discover that in theirs, too!’
The company will be at CRE 2024 (Marshall Centre, Milton Keynes Oct 9-10). A wide range of books, suitable for all stages of Christian development, will be available and staff will also be on hand to advise on specific publications.
10ofthose will be on stand D1 at CRE 2024
‘CRE Midlands reminded me of the giddy days when it first began – the venue was packed with exhibitors and visitors and there was a busy atmosphere. The whole thing looked great.’
Not our words but those of journalist and communications consultant Clive Price who was around in the days when CRE was first launched on an unsuspecting public in the mid-1980s.
Echoing Clive’s words, Gareth Cottrell, of exhibitors Konnect Radio, said: ‘I just wanted to congratulate you on a wonderful event. We’ve always enjoyed coming to CRE but this year it felt as if you upped your game. It’s been one of our highlights of the year.’
Heather Ford, of exhibitors Ecclesiastical, tweeted: ‘Tired feet, completely wildflower bombed out, but great conversations along the way. Looking forward to CRE in 2024.’
The Clergy Support Trust tweeted: ‘It was wonderful to have insightful conversations with clergy, their partners, families, members of their congregations and other Christian organisations.’
Abbi Leverton of Hope Fuelled Design said: ‘I had a fantastic time chatting to people about our work and making new friends along the way! Looking forward to next year already!’
Over the years, and to quote singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, we have tried to ‘get ourselves back to the garden’ – to be what the founders set out to create: a professionally-run trade show for local church leaders and officers to discover niche products and services. At this, our first-ever exhibition at Cranmore Park in Solihull, we think we succeeded.
In all 1,442 visitors came through the door over the two days, plus 469 exhibitor staff. While the numbers didn’t match the ‘giddy days’ described above, the intentional nature of the visitors has never been stronger. Most of them made a beeline to the stands they had earmarked before the exhibition opened – probably because we sent out the 60-page exhibition handbook to some 8,000 potential visitors several weeks before the exhibition – making our visitors much more business-like.
Self-styled grumpy old rock star Rick Wakeman opened the event and, to his surprise, was presented with a bespoke richly-coloured cape created on the theme ‘Morning Has Broken,’ a traditional hymn made famous worldwide by Cat Stevens. Wakeman played piano on the recording more than 50 years ago.
The cape was made by long-standing CRE exhibitor Juliet Hemingray. Over the years, the Derby-based textile designer has been commissioned to produce thousands of stoles, frontal, banners, copes, mitres and chasubles and other religious regalia – including the enthronement robes for the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, and current Archbishop, Justin Welby.
‘It is the first time I have ever made something for a rock star, though,’ she admitted. ‘I hope he will perform in it.’
He already has – on the night following at a packed-out concert hall in Lytham St Anne’s!
With a successful exhibition disappearing in the rear-view mirror, we now ask for your prayers as we look ahead to 2024.
Talking in depth to dozens of the 170 organisations represented, it is clear the current economic climate is still tough for many of them, post-pandemic. Consequently, many have wanted to come to both our exhibitions in 2024 but have had to make a choice between CRE North in Manchester (scheduled for May 2024) and CRE South at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes (9-10 Oct).
Because of this we have decided it makes sense to cancel CRE North 24 and put all our resources into making CRE South 24 a similar success to CRE Midlands 23.
It is disappointing to be unable to take the exhibition north again (where it is based!) but we feel this is the best option. We are in the process of informing all the organisations booked for Manchester and hope they will join us in Milton Keynes in October next year.
If you are interested in taking a stand at the Marshall Arena please contact James Batterbee on 0161 250 2306 (E: email@example.com).
Steve and Allison Goddard
One in three church leaders say they want to step down from their roles within the next two years due to job-related stress, according to a new survey.
Commissioned by trade union Unite, exhibitors at next week’s CRE Midlands, the survey reveals that three out of four of those surveyed regularly work beyond their contracted hours. They also face challenging situations, such as providing support to individuals suffering from acute mental illness.
Highlights of the survey of nearly 1,000 faith workers, who are members of Unite, include: 23 per cent struggling to pay bills, seven per cent missing meals and 21 per cent relying on friends and family for support.
Unite is calling on religious organisations to increase pay and reduce workloads. It is also urging them to implement their existing wellbeing policies and assess the adequacy of support systems for clergy. The survey indicates that if religious bodies do not take prompt action, they may face difficulties in filling vacant positions.
Rev Nicky Skipworth, who will be on the Unite stand at CRE Midlands, said: ‘Being truly in the corner of faith workers means not only supporting individual members when things go wrong at work but creating opportunities to speak up for them before that point. By doing so, we gather vital, real-world information which might not otherwise reach those who have the power to effect change in our faith organisation.’
The recent survey was completed by people who are lay, ordained, full time, part time, employed and office holder.
‘It shows not just the true diversity of faith workers, but the actual impact of stipends and salary levels which have made faith workers vulnerable, while they look after some of the most vulnerable people in their community,’ said Nicky. ‘We invite all CRE visitors to come for a chat and find out the concrete ways we can support you and your colleagues.’
• Unite, the Faith Workers’ Branch, is on stand DS3 at CRE Midlands
Book your ticket for CRE Midlands 2023 here from as little as £3
Click to view the latest floorplan and price list for available stands
Get involved in what God is doing in the wider world – that’s the message from Transform Europe Network (TEN).
‘We believe seeing what God is doing in another country can really inspire the UK church,’ said TEN’s Melanie Griffiths. TEN’s projects include:
For the Nations
This is a free six-week small group resource to get churches excited about mission. It includes two online sessions where those taking part will connect with Christians in Eastern Europe.
TEN is running two short team trips to Albania and Croatia in 2024 and looking for team members. These are: Albania women’s trip 2-9May, to help new Christians learn to read the Bible and to pray. Croatia kids’ camp in July 2024 (dates tbc).
An opportunity for your church to send a team to help our partners in Eastern Europe and the Balkans with English classes, kids’ camps (pictured) or evangelism. ‘We can connect you with a partner and help you plan and run trip training for you,’ said Melanie Griffiths.
We are looking to recruit new teachers to teach English online to students in Eastern Europe, using Bible stories.
You will meet Nick Clarke, who coordinates our TENteach project, on the TENstand in Mission on the Map at CRE Midlands.
Photo above: A Transform Europe Network kids’ camp in full flow.