An inspiring entrepreneur, full of life and zeal – that’s how Marian, wife of the late Rev Paul Sinclair described him at his funeral in May.
Founder of Motorcycle Funerals, and known as the Faster Pastor and Revving Rev, Paul holds the Guinness world record for the fastest speed on a motorcycle hearse – 126mph at Elvington Airfield in York in 2013. He also had the loudest laugh of any exhibitor at CRE.
‘It was amazing to watch him serve the public,’ said Marian, who will be on the Motorcycle Funerals stand at CRE National 2019. ‘He never tired or got bored. He wasn’t perfect but he certainly looked after his staff and was a brilliant boss. He was friends with people from all walks of life and his funeral reflected that.’
Passionate about the Bible, Paul preached at various United Reformed churches in Birmingham and around Leicestershire. He also spoke in schools, encouraging children to be entrepreneurs whatever their age.
He once told The Guardian: ‘I don’t want anyone to say I was nice, or that I was a good man.
People always say that at funerals and it is never the truth. I want it to be said: “This guy was a dirty sinner and he didn’t deserve to go to heaven – but God saved him”’.
‘Paul enjoyed nothing more than to crack jokes and puns, often at his own expense, as he introduced his hearses to our bemused visitors,’ said Steve Goddard, owner of CRE, recalling the time Paul put his tandem hearse up for sale at an exhibition in Exeter – because he wasn’t fit enough to ride it.
‘I’m a biker, not a cyclist,’ Paul told the local TV news. ‘It’s seen some lovely funerals but I’m always wrecked afterwards. I even have to ask if the cemetery is at the top or bottom of a hill!’
‘We will really miss Paul at CRE,’ said Steve, ‘but we are delighted Marian is carrying on the business and hope that many thousands of visitors will make a point of discovering Motorcycle Funerals at Sandown Park.’
• Motorcycle Funerals are on stand S33 at CRE National 2019
Caption: Marian Sinclair (left) with Rev Pal Sinclair (centre) and the tandem hearse
Hundreds of young people and adults from across East London united last Saturday (15 June) to take a stand against a growing culture of violence and knife crime epidemic.
The Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police in Newham, Waheed Khan, agreed to release knives that had been seized from the streets of Newham, which had the highest murder rate of any London borough last year. Under the supervision of a metalsmith and two blacksmiths, people were invited to ‘beat these knives from death to life’, in the words of liturgy crafted for the occasion.
Rev Dr Sally Mann, minister at Bonny Downs Baptist Church, East Ham, and a trustee and spokesperson for Red Letter Christians UK, said: ‘Newham has been at the heart of this crisis of violence. We watched as young people who had lost friends to knife crime, and our mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, beat those knives. They are being transformed into a beautiful sculpture for our community garden and for tools we can use to grow food together in a community project.’
Author Shane Claiborne (pictured above) was also at the event. He leads Red Letter Christians in the US, along with Rev Dr Tony Campolo, who has spoken at several Christian Resources Exhibitions over the years. Both men are in the UK to launch the movement here.
‘We’ve been melting down guns in the US,’ said Campolo. ‘Some 37 cities have taken donated guns and turned them into garden tools, inspired by the prophetic vision of Isaiah: ‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares.’”
Shane Claiborne said: ‘The vision reminds us that life is more powerful than death and love is more powerful than hatred. God invites all of us to participate in building the world we dream of.’
The group are called ‘Red Letter’ Christians because many printed and online versions of the New Testament feature the words of Jesus in red.
‘We come from a diverse range of backgrounds and church affiliations and want to be people who take Jesus’ words seriously in our personal devotion, in our communities and in UK public life,’ said Campolo.
• Click here more information about Red Letter Christians UK
Saltmine Theatre Company will present Chosen, the life of Mary Sumner at CRE’s first-ever Ladies’ Day (Thu 17 Oct 2019).
On the birth of her first grandchild in 1876, Mary was moved by the lack of help offered to mothers and their families. Together with her husband and close friends she founded Mothers’ Union, a community representing all social classes and championing the importance of parenthood, faith in God and mutual support.
Chosen is a story of compassion, faith and the inspiring force a company of women can be in a community, nation and the world. Mothers’ Union is now an international organisation in over 80 countries with more than four million members.
‘Ladies Day will give us an opportunity to look back at pioneering women like Mary Sumner and, in the 25th year of women’s ordination in the Church of England, consider the many challenges and opportunities presented to them in today’s world,’ said CRE event director Brett Pitchfork.
• Saltmine Theatre Co are on stand AT2 at CRE National 2019
No leader worthy of the name can look the other way while men, women and children are held against their will.
So said Theresa May, addressing the UN International Labour Organisation in Geneva, days before she stepped down as Prime Minister.
The Global Slavery Index estimates there are 136,000 people in slavery in the UK at any one time.
‘The duty of fighting slavery doesn’t simply belong to world leaders,’ said Jared Hodgson, co-founder and CEO of Hope at Home, a national Christian charity fighting the cycle of modern slavery and human trafficking. ‘God calls his church to set the oppressed free.’
Providing the opportunity for churches to practically live out God’s call, Hope at Home, exhibitors at CRE Midlands 2020, equip Christians to host adult survivors in their homes for an agreed time period.
In 2018, 6,993 people were rescued from exploitation in the UK and taken to a safe house – but there is no statutory provision after leaving the house. Many survivors become destitute and extremely vulnerable to being re-trafficked.
‘We step in at that point, preventing homelessness, and place them with our well-trained hosts who provide a room, a family, love and acceptance,’ said Jared. ‘We support our hosts and work in partnership with agencies who support the guest (survivor). Our collaborative approach provides the best platform on which guests can rebuild their lives.’
Several guests have found employment and their own homes.
‘One guest looked for a night shift job because she couldn’t sleep,’ recalled Jared. ‘After a few weeks with her hosts, she slept so well she decided to find a day job instead! Another guest celebrated her birthday for the first time at the age of 42. As her hosts sung to her and presented her with a birthday cake, tears rolled down her face. She felt loved and valued.’
• Hope at Home are on stand P5 at CRE Midlands 2020
A book published this month attempts to discover what the term ‘spiritual abuse’ really means and how to prevent it in our churches.
In Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse: Creating healthy Christian cultures (SPCK), authors Dr Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys draw on a combination of extensive research, individual testimonies and years of hands-on experience – concluding that recovery is possible.
‘Findings from a new study highlight big gaps in our understanding around the topic,’ said Justin Humphreys. ‘Recognition that coercive controlling behaviours do, in fact, occur in churches and other religious settings has begun to take place, but many more steps are necessary to understand and address the issues. Common factors include control through misuse of scripture, claims to divine authority, pressure to conform and enforced accountability. Individuals may be isolated and compelled to secrecy and silence.’
Oakley and Humphreys consider the link between theological ideas and harmful behaviours and how leaders can create opportunities for spiritual and emotional flourishing.
‘Writing a book that is honest and clear about spiritual abuse while also being open and responsible about its complexity is a great gift to the Church, and beyond,’ said The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham. ‘Lisa and Justin have succeeded in doing this; that they do so with winsomeness and humility simply adds further to this gift.’
Author, speaker and broadcaster Jeff Lucas said: ‘Spiritual abuse disguises itself masterfully, and preys not only upon the vulnerable but also the most passionate in the faith. Lisa and Justin have created a vital resource in this unique, timely and accessible book. It exposes the culture created by bullying leaders with clarity and compassion and calls us towards health and freedom.’
Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse: Creating healthy Christian cultures (SPCK) is published on Thursday 20 June.
• Thirty-one Eight are on stand S49 at CRE National 2019
• SPCK are stand FC26 at CRE National 2019
One of the most popular performers at CRE returns to perform during the exhibition’s first-ever Ladies’ Day (CRE National 2019, Thu 17 Oct).
‘I want to encourage women to know what a dynamic impact they can have in the kingdom of God,’ said Marilyn. ‘Society needs nurturers and us ladies can help to bring more tender heartedness back in to our world showing what God’s love is really like.’
Blind almost from birth, Marilyn Baker began to write and sing her own songs in the early 1980s, releasing a series of albums which aimed to draw people into God’s healing presence.
Word spread and soon churches were inviting her to do evangelistic and encouragement concerts. She gave up her job as a music teacher and started ministering full time, travelling extensively in Britain and many parts of the world. A familiar performer at Spring Harvest and other major Christian events, Marilyn quickly became Britain’s top-selling female gospel singer.
In 1986 she was joined by Tracy Williamson, whose gifts in speaking and prophecy enriched the music with a new dimension. Marilyn’s recordings and Tracy’s books enabled them to reach an even wider audience.
As well as concerts, Marilyn and Tracy undertake church encouragement weekends, workshops and conferences. They minister to large or small groups or in elderly people’s homes and prisons. Wherever they are, the focus of the ministry remains the same.
‘Our heart is to see people entering into joy instead of mourning, beauty instead of ashes, praise instead of despair,’ said Marilyn.
‘We want them to understand the intimacy of God’s tender love and be empowered by it to reach out to others, that they too may be healed and changed.
‘He has been wonderfully faithful guiding and providing for us over all these years and has brought so much transformation to individuals and groups. We are excited about what lies ahead in his plans for us.’
Marilyn will perform in CRE’s Arts Theatre and during Cindy’s Sofa at lunchtime on Thu 17 Oct. Ladies Day at CRE will focus specifically on issued surrounding women in areas of work, community, church and family life.
First contact with families approaching churches for a wedding, baptism or funeral need not be the last – thanks to new online software that helps develop lasting relationships with parishioners.
The Life Events Diary, a free resource for Church of England churches and developed in partnership with iKnow Church, streamlines administration for classic rites of passage.
‘Every family that approaches a church for a wedding, banns reading, a baptism or a funeral begins a journey with that church,’ explained iKnow Church’s Kyle Cottington. ‘For the family, it can be a time of big emotions and questions. You will want to care for them and make their service the best it can be. Behind that are a huge list of tasks, not just to plan the services but to keep in touch with the families afterwards and encourage them to stay connected. That’s what Life Events Diary is all about.’
Life Events Diary:
• Records legal and personal data of families safely and securely
• Reduces duplication of data-collection and data-entry
• Prints out key information about a service in relevant formats
• Customises, records, and tracks service fees
• Never forgets a significant date for pastoral care, or an opportunity for follow-up after a service, with email reminders
• Shares data, tasks and messages with others in the church to help you direct, delegate and coordinate, wherever you are
• Live Events Diary is available on stand S95 at CRE National 2019
• iKnow Church/Church Edit are on stand S94
Photo: Helen Batt Photography
Every church in the UK should be equipped with great communications tools – and a new award scheme has been launched with deserving churches receiving up to £1000 to make it happen.
CPO chief executive Laura Trenee believes churches have a world-changing message of hope – but often fail to deliver it effectively.
‘Our vision is to see every church in the UK equipped with great communications tools,’ she said. ‘We understand the limitations of budget and time and are delighted that our Church Comms Improvement Project will offer support to those who need it.’
Anyone can nominate a church for support here. All that is needed is the name of the church, its address and a photograph or web address to demonstrate why it needs help.
Awards are to the value of between £50 and £1000, in the form of fully-funded resources and support, depending on the need – such as a new or redesigned website, a brand identity, a set of invitations or posters or even a new noticeboard. The deadline for nominations is 5pm on Mon 1st July.
CPO is a registered charity, and has received seed money for the fund. Donations to enable the project to continue can be made at give.net/churchcommsimprovement, to ensure a sustainable fund for churches that most need help in design and communications.
Based in Worthing, CPO has been working to support the UK church in its communication for more than 60 years.
• CPO are on stand S81 at CRE National 2019
Hand-blown by Muslims, hand-painted by Christians, shipped by Israelis – the ‘three-in-one’ Bethlehem Bauble is returning to CRE National 2019.
Each bauble arrives on a bed of straw in its own presentation box along with a certificate of origin. No plastic is used – and it’s made from recycled materials!
Founded by Ros Pollock whilst posted to Jerusalem with the UN, Bethlehem Baubles aims to provide a grass roots, fair living wage to a struggling community.
‘Christmas should be about giving something special to the ones we love and connecting with the things that really matter,’ said Ros. ‘In an age of mass production and commercialisation, Bethlehem Baubles offers you the chance to return to these simple origins and renew the authentic spirit of the season. We’ve paired up with Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans (BFTA) who work closely with Muslim and Christian communities at an individual level in order to produce a unique gift with a direct and meaningful impact. Together we can make a difference for these skilled artisans.’
With a unique design for the collection each year, Ros believes Bethlehem Baubles have the potential to become an intrinsic and abiding part of the Christmas experience – perfect for stocking fillers and ‘that tricky relative who you never know what to get.’
• Bethlehem Baubles are on stand S102 at CRE National 2019
Photo: Eleanor Bentall
A new Christian conference and training centre, inspired by the works of classic authors Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, is under construction in outer London.
The Amana Trust, owners of a centre near Romford and a bookshop in central London for many years, have purchased a 17-acre woodland site within the M25 and 10 minutes from the Central line tube station. Easily accessible but removed from the busyness of London, the centre will be available for groups of up to 300 people in stylish wooden cabins, most with ensuite bedrooms and several with meeting spaces.
Watchman Nee’s classics include The Normal Christian Life and The Spiritual Man. In addition, the complete works of Watchman Nee comprises a mostly unknown 62 volumes. More than 15,000 pages of Watchman Nee’s ministry was continued by his closest co-worker, Witness Lee, whose ministry was even more extensive.
The Amana Trust endeavours to help believers grow in the Christian faith, both personally and in groups. Their events include weekend retreats, week-long training and a two-year full-time residential course.
• The Amana Trust are on stands S51 and S52 at CRE National 2019