With 30 years’ experience bringing hope in Christ to communities, the people behind Ambassadors Football GB are keen share their vision.
‘We want to show others how simple outreach through football can have an impact on local communities,’ said national director Martin Bateman. ‘With women’s football, walking football for the over 50s and under-11 sessions on a Saturday morning, we will explain how churches can get involved in reaching others through our national game.’
Ambassadors host training days, when church leaders and volunteers are shown how easy it is to organise a football programme. A new initiative in the north west includes working alongside schools with a unique style of coaching.
‘We develop skills but also encourage character values,’ explained Martin. ‘In Christian schools that is linked to a Bible verse but in a non-Christian context we show how good these values are and serve the school and community through the football programme.’
A number of churches have discovered that forming a football team and playing friendly games, or even joining a local league, gives them the opportunity to emphasise Christian values to the players, with opportunities to witness to opposing teams.
‘We were founded in 1990 and work in partnership with other sports groups and denominations to see God’s kingdom established,’ added Martin, ‘especially in hard-to-reach places such as housing estates and with homeless and marginalised people.’
Visitors to the Ambassadors stand will be able to chat to the organisation’s representatives about the possibilities for sporting mission involving football.
• Ambassadors Football are on stand A36 at CRE North
• A CRE North seminar ‘Your church and sports ministry’ will be led by Christians in Sport, Scripture Union, Sports Chaplaincy UK, Ambassadors Football and the C of E Ministry of Sport Initiative at 4pm, Wed 13 Mar
For months they’ve been conquering words like ‘chasuble’ and ‘thurible’ and soon they’ll deliver their version of the song made famous by Dana – to the lady herself.
A 60-strong choir from St Leonard’s Church of England Primary School, Padiham, Lancashire, will serenade the 1970 Eurovision winner with a version re-written to outline the benefits of CRE North – ‘All kinds of everything for your church and you.’
Many of the items mentioned in the song, including thuribles, puppets, bibles and Easter eggs, will be on display at Event City (13/14 Mar).
‘The children are thoroughly enjoying rehearsals and are coping with the more unusual words,’ said St Leonard’s music co-ordinator Suzanna Halsey. ‘They relish the challenge of learning a new song and are looking forward to the occasion. It is good to have the opportunity to perform in public, particularly as Dana will be there to listen. We hope it brings back happy memories of her Eurovision win in 1970 when she herself was still a schoolgirl.’
• The choir will perform at the opening of CRE North (10am, Hall 1, Event City, Manchester)
Pic by Howard Barlow
Voting has begun to find the nation’s favourite parish magazine and service sheet typo.
Every week, in churches throughout the country, typographical errors sneak under the righteous radar. A word may be spelled correctly but, critically, it’s the wrong word. For hard-pressed editors, the consequences can be horrifying. For the rest of us, hilarious.
‘Just one letter may be missing – but it’s enough to send parishioners rocking in the pews,’ explains Anne Coomes of Parish Pump, a website providing editorial and graphic resources to thousands of church magazine editors.
Local publications are a special focus at the upcoming Christian Resources Exhibition (Event City, Manchester, 13/14 March) and the event’s organisers are celebrating the unsung work of parish magazine editors by asking the general public to name their favourite blooper.
Ten genuine contributions have been collected by readers of Ship of Fools, the magazine of Christian unrest, and Church Service Sheet Typos, a Facebook page which has gained some 4800 members since its creation just over a year ago. Voting will continue until 12 noon on Fri 1 March, when the Top 10 will be revealed in order of popularity.
‘Most editors will see the funny side,’ explains CRE managing director Steve Goddard. ‘Since computer software offered us generative text and spellcheckers, the number of typos has actually increased. It is dangerous to become too dependent on technology.’
For 20 years Anne Coomes has resourced church magazine editors of all mainline denominations. She will deliver a seminar at CRE North (5pm, Wed 13 Mar), showing editors how to make the most of their much-loved publications.
‘Church magazines still play a critical role in community life,’ said Anne, from Macclesfield. ‘However, every editor can recall that awful moment when they’ve made a mistake and there’s nothing they can do about it. I once ran a headline that should have read: “Make flowers that look like satin.” Instead it said: “Make flowers that look like satan.” Not one of my more glorious moments!’
Back in Manchester for the first time in five years, CRE North, often dubbed the ‘ideal church show’, is a unique showcase where innovative products and services for churches – from pulpits to puppets, sound systems to software – will be displayed by some 150 organisations. More than 30 seminars and presentations will cover areas like cyber security and safeguarding.
The Bishop of Manchester, The Rt Revd David Walker, has welcomed the exhibition’s return to the north.
‘Manchester is world famous as a place where the best is showcased and creative ideas and technologies are quickly adopted,’ he said. ‘I’m delighted CRE is returning and that so many organisations will bring skills, services, ideas and resources to the north west.’
‘CRE is an event that brings together churches from many different traditions and persuasions,’ said the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. ‘It is an ideal place for positive discussion and agenda setting.’
Credit: Cartoons by Rev Taffy Davies
The essential tools to build your church using social media will be outlined in a seminar at CRE North.
‘Those who reject Christianity are highly unlikely to be reached by the traditional church,’ explains Laura Treneer, chief executive of Christian Publishing and Outreach (CPO), who will lead the seminar (11am, Thu 14 Mar). ‘However, the same people are likely to spend, on average, 20 hours a week on the internet. This presents us with an amazing opportunity, if we know how to use it wisely.’
Combining missional vision with practical advice, the seminar covers information contained in Laura’s book Church Online: Social Media (BRF). You will understand why social media matters and how it works for churches, hear practical examples and inspiring stories from a panel of contributors and take away building blocks to develop your own local church digital strategy.
‘The seminar and book are aimed at church teams who want to reach their communities effectively,’ says Laura. ‘The book is a perfect resource for church leaders and volunteers short on time who need fast, relevant advice. Whether you’re looking for a crash course, brief refresher or reference toolkit, you’ll find what you need in it. And, of course, you can pick up a copy after the seminar at CRE.’
Laura’s understanding of churches is helped in part by her husband’s role for the past 12 years as senior pastor of a Baptist church in Brighton.
‘CPO is a charity, and for 60 years has been serving the church in its communications,’ she says. ‘I believe it has a strategic role to play as a resource, not just for churches, but for charities, bookshops and suppliers.’
• CPO are on stand A11 at CRE North
• Laura Treneer will speak on Building your church through social media (11am, Thu 14 Mar)
Now a case of six ‘eggs with added Easter’ comes plastic free – with £3 off if you buy a case at CRE North.
As usual, the 2019 Real Easter Egg includes a copy of the Easter story, is Fairtrade and supports charitable projects – but this year it’s also plastic-free for the first time.
‘Had we not made this decision we would have ordered five tonnes of plastic and 175 tonnes of card over the next five years,’ said Meaningful Chocolate founder David Marshall. ‘Going plastic free is seen as important by 96 per cent of our supporters. We have therefore replaced plastic bags, tamper-seals and Best Before stickers with paper versions and made the egg with thicker chocolate. There is still the same amount of chocolate in the egg and the box sizes are the same but the redesign means our Dark and Original Eggs are now kinder to the environment.’
There is a 50 pence discount on each Original and Dark Real Easter Egg if bought at CRE North but stocks are limited. You can pre-order larger quantities for collection at Event City by emailing Philip@meaningfulchocolate.co.uk.
• Meaningful Chocolate are on stand A7 at CRE North
The atmosphere in our cities has changed since 2003 when 18 Christians took to the streets of Brixton in response to gun and knife crime.
Now Street Pastors patrol more than 300 towns and cities with some 20,000 volunteers listen to people’s problems, show concern and make an impact for good.
Street Pastors in Greater Manchester was launched in 2004 after Paul Keeble was invited by founder Rev Les Isaac to the London launch and brought the vision back home.
‘It was an instant success in Manchester – probably the first city to take up the challenge after London,’ he said. ‘It has helped raise the spiritual temperature.’
Paul, 61, is a trustee of the organisation and attends Brunswick Parish Church. He still enjoys a late pastoral night out in the city when his turn comes.
‘We start with a briefing at the police station and then go out in teams, offering help,’ he explained. ‘People appreciate our presence and often recognise team members. Recently, we were in a cafe when a man who admitted he was an atheist approached us and insisted on paying our bill “for what you are doing.”
‘We are taking the challenge to CRE North at Event City and hope that many who visit the exhibition will be inspired to join us – particularly those in a younger age bracket.’
While anyone over 18 can become a Street Pastor, many of the 12,000 volunteers in the ten projects in the Greater Manchester’s area are older – some, like Paul, in their 60s. Anyone wanting to become a Street Pastor receives special training and is asked to patrol a minimum of once a month. They listen and sometimes pray with people, ensuring that those who are drunk can get home. Flip-flops are often handed out to women whose high-heeled shoes prove uncomfortable, and space blankets to those suffering from the cold.
‘It is a great work and can lead to opportunities for witness,’ said Paul, recalling one of the team praying with a man, at his request, in a pub. ‘I watched the man lean in close to be part of the prayer as John Motson’s commentary on Match of the Day was relayed above their heads. People say they don’t know why we do it but they’re really glad we’re here. We are not superheroes, but ordinary Christians. And we need more volunteers. Come and talk to us at CRE North.’
• Street Pastors are on Stand P17 at CRE North
• Paul Keeble will be speaking with Sid Williams (Embassy Bus) on Your church and social engagement (11am, Wed 13 Oct)
Photo: Hannah Beatrice
A seminar where churches will come together to try and find a way forward through the Brexit crisis, has been welcomed by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
Hosted by Andy Flannagan of Christians in Politics, the seminar (CRE North, Event City, Manchester, 12pm, Wed 13 Mar) will ask whether or not the church is in part responsible for the current situation.
‘Have we critiqued from the sidelines instead of getting on the political pitch?’ said Flannagan. ‘Whatever the situation on March 29th we need to move forward positively. We will discuss what role churches can play in bridging the cultural divide and bring communities together again.’
Archbishop John, who is asking people to say a special prayer three times a day in light of the current political crisis, has welcomed the initiative.
‘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.’
God of eternal love and power,
Save our Parliamentary Democracy;
Protect the High Court of Parliament and all its members
From partiality and prejudice;
That they may walk humbly the path of kindness, justice and mercy.
Give them wisdom, insight and a concern for the common good.
The weight of their calling is too much to bear in their own strength,
Therefore we pray earnestly, Father,
send them help from your Holy Place, and be their tower of strength.
Lord, graciously hear us. Amen.
The days of shuffling sheet music during the Lord’s Prayer are over – thanks to Power Music Software Ltd.
Songs or hymns can be set up silently, effortlessly, on ipad or tablet, often at the touch of a foot-controlled switch. The change has had a large impact among musicians and is also environmentally friendly with the amount of sheet music copied in churches reduced significantly.
Gordon Cameron, director of Cambron Software, makers of Power Music, said: ‘When we first demonstrated our equipment we were told it would not catch on but more and more musicians are using it.’
Its popularity proved frustrating for a number of older musicians whose eyes can’t catch the notes quick enough on an ipad.
‘However, they are delighted with the larger screens – from 22 to 27 inches – which we now provide,’ continued Gordon, who began the company 10 years ago.
And a recent collaboration with WorshipReady.com – an American website – has resulted in access to high-quality chord sheets.
‘This new initiative gives users access to more than 1,000 of the highest-quality chord sheets with new sheets added daily,’ said Gordon. ‘This save musicians time creating and editing chord sheets or importing them from other sources. We’ll show you how at CRE North!’
• Cambron Software offering Power Music Software are on stand A40 at CRE North
It’s simple, communal and creates a high nutrition resource to feed some of the poorest children in the world.
Hand to Hand food packing, which comes to CRE for the first time in March, has proved to be a great way to engage local communities in a practical social justice project.
Hosted by churches, schools and community groups, the activity entails teams filling bags with dried rice, soya and lentils along with a sachet of micronutrients. These bags are then weighed, sealed, labelled and boxed. Each pack contains six meals (one each for six children) and every box of food helps feed a family of six for a month.
‘Food packing is very simple and creates an end-resource sent by Feed The Hungry UK to some of the poorest children in the world,’ explained Gwyn Williams, the charity’s operations director.
There will be several opportunities to try Hand to Hand food packing at CRE North. For more details on joining a team at the exhibition, click here.
Stuart Bell, leader of the Ground Level Network and Senior Pastor of Alive Church, Lincoln, said: ‘I am delighted to commend Hand to Hand food packing to churches as it enables people to come together to pack food in a fun and enjoyable way, but also think about how it can be used as an opportunity to connect with their local community.’
Feed The Hungry UK’s mission is to reduce world hunger through feeding programmes and provide humanitarian aid to support education and implement sustainable farming initiatives. The organisation works worldwide to feed more than 250,000 children in 150 schools in 20 developing countries. As part of the provision the organisation supports pastors and church leaders in presenting the gospel to families and children around the world.
‘Since 2010, from Leicestershire, we have supplied over nine million meals and more than 100 containers of aid to some of the world’s most vulnerable children and their families,’ said Gwyn Williams. ‘We invite you to find out more about our mission at CRE.’
• Feed The Hungry – Hand to Hand are on stand P63 at CRE North
Twenty-five years of juggling finances for clergy – and being married to one – has given Anne Wray a unique perspective on life.
‘Clergy need to ensure there is a reasonable pension pot and will probably have to buy their own home late in life,’ said Anne, who launched Anne Wray IFA specifically to help sort out financial problems faced by clergy of most denominations.
For a quarter of a century she has helped them ride smoothly over recessions, inflation and stock market crashes – and anticipates surmounting whatever problems Brexit brings.
‘The UK will sign a declaration on March 29 but so far we have no indication what might be involved,’ she admitted. ‘However, our experience over the years has helped us understand how change might be managed and put clients’ minds at rest (as far as possible!) in changing and sometimes challenging, times.’
Anne worked for various insurance companies after leaving school. Following a spell with Methodist Insurance, she moved on to establish her own business, Anne Wray IFA, in 1994. It has rapidly become a pioneer and leader in advising clergy and the Christian community on investments, pensions, mortgages, taxation and other personal financial matters.
Anne Wray IFA has developed into a family business. Daughter Melanie is also an adviser and Thomas, Anne’s son, looks after the administration and office. Two miniature schnauzers, Bill and Ben, alert staff when people approach the door!
‘We are looking forward to continuing our support of existing clients at CRE North and inviting and welcoming new ones as they come face-to-face with sometimes confusing financial issues,’ she said.
• Anne Wray is on stand D30 at CRE North