Hope beyond Coronavirus is a 12-page tract in full colour introducing the Christian theme of eternity.
Written by Roger Carswell and published by Day One, hundreds of thousands have already been distributed.
‘COVID–19 has been the biggest health story for a generation,’ explained Day One’s Mark Roberts. ‘We have seen restrictions not imposed in a generation. With churches closed and fellowship restricted, many asked if the Christian faith could pull through.’
Mark believes the answer is in the affirmative – and thanks to social media and online conference opportunities, the church has found new ways of communicating the Gospel and fellowshipping together.
‘From online services to zoom prayer meetings, nothing has stopped God’s church continuing to proclaim,’ he said. ‘Another way has been through this fantastic product. Tracts can travel when we cannot!’
Ideal to give to family, friends and neighbours in lockdown, it shows them how much God cares for us and is warning us to repent. The tract provides Roger’s contact details and a website and also encourages readers to turn to the Psalms for comfort. A spoken version of the text can be found on YouTube.
More information is available here
Churches can sustain relationships in lockdown with fresh resources available to help in funeral, wedding and baptismal ministry.
‘The idea is to enable people in isolation to be part of funeral services they can’t attend, for example, because of restrictions on numbers and travel,’ said Cathy Myers, the C of E’s Life Events Resources Manager.
The new range includes:
• A prayer card for when you can’t be at a funeral
• A simple service to say at home on the day of a funeral – soon to be available in large print, too.
• Social media-sized graphics and posters to alert people to a ‘Light A Candle’ tool online.
Also available is a range attractive cards to send to colleagues in the death care industry – to reassure them of your prayers during a very stressful time.
‘Our latest product is a straightforward, cheerful postcard to share with Messy Church contacts, grandparents in your congregation, families you have met through baptisms or school services,’ said Cathy. ‘The postcard reads “Loving God, bless my family today” and is a reminder that God holds their family in his love, especially when extended families can’t be together.’
The full range can be viewed here
A new book brings together 20 Christian leaders and thinkers offering advice in a post-COVID world.
‘After being off work with suspected coronavirus, I jumped on a call about a possible response book. Healthy Faith and the Coronavirus is the result’ said IVP’s Caleb Woodbridge. ‘It’s as if another world has arrived in the blink of an eye. Yet life is not on pause. We still need to live. The pandemic, like any other time, is a moment both of opportunity as well as challenge.’
Practical and inspirational, rooted in the Bible and tradition yet deeply contemporary, the book engages the “why” question and focuses on the “what now” of relationships, emotions, following Jesus and doing mission under changed circumstances.
Edited by Luke Cawley and Kristi Mair, and offering contributions from luminaries like Krish Kandiah, Tom Wright, Andy Kind and Dianne and Derek Tidball, the ebook is out now and the paperback, released on 18 June, is available for pre-order from IVP. It includes a number of valuable appendices on grief, fear, prayer, loneliness, safeguarding and practical advice on bereavement.
More information here
Uncertainty about infringing copyright makes online worship seem daunting – but expert advice is now available.
While several social media and video-conferencing apps are available to thousands of churches UK-wide, it’s important to obtain appropriate permissions for content.
‘If you stream to YouTube or Facebook Live, the CCLI Streaming Licence is available to churches which hold our Church Copyright Licence,’ explained CCLI’s Rich Burrough. ‘Its coverage has been extended to streaming and webcasting and includes the display of song words on screen.’
Annual fees for the CCLI Streaming Licence start from £22. One License also provide a streaming licence covering music from their catalogue.
If you are hosting services on your own website, or other apps and video-conferencing platforms including Zoom, you will need a Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) from PRS for Music in addition to streaming licence(s) above.
You may not have musicians who can play live. With this in mind, many organisations and apps that provide worship resources for churches are currently giving special permission to include content in service streams.
‘Major denominations will often provide further details on where you can source free-to-use music,’ said Rich. ‘Alternatively, check the websites of the content providers whose music you wish to use.’
Further information and practical guidance on streaming services visit the CCLI website
Tributes are pouring in for Gospatric Home, founder of the Christian Resources Exhibition, who died on Easter Saturday, 11 April.
Known simply as ‘Gos’, the 87-year-old had heart surgery before Easter and returned home from hospital to recover but was re-admitted on Good Friday with complications and died shortly afterwards.
His son, Olly, diocesan secretary of the diocese of Bristol said: ‘He was a man full of hope and love, always seeing life, potential and giving thanks in all circumstances. He achieved so much for so many. We’ll miss him so much and it is tough not to be together while we trust he is risen in glory.’
Theologian John Drane said: ‘Gos was a true Christian entrepreneur if ever there was one. He certainly made a difference to very many lives, including mine. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.’
Cindy Kent MBE said: ‘Gos was a great man who made such a contribution to Christianity in the UK. He was a real visionary. I was sad to hear this news.’
Singer Sandra Godley said: ‘We owe a rich depth of gratitude to a wonderful person.’
It was while recovering from a hip replacement operation many years before that Gos heard someone say ‘pick up and read’ – the same words given to St Augustine. But where Augustine picked up the Bible, Gos took hold of the UK Christian Handbook!
‘It wasn’t the voice of God but Ernie Barnett, owner of a chain of Christian bookshops!’ recalled Gos. ‘Laid up for days on end, Ernie suggested I read the UK Christian Handbook. I did – from cover to cover. There were 5,000 entries spanning an unbelievable range of publishers, church suppliers, charities, architects, missions, newspapers, magazines, bookshops and much more. I realised there was no event where they could bring their products, services and ideas to the churches that needed to see them.’
In such unlikely circumstances, CRE, Europe’s leading series of Christian exhibitions, was conceived. The last exhibition Gos attended, as honorary president, was CRE National 2019 at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey.
Steve Goddard, owner of CRE, said: ‘I was privileged to attend the first exhibition in London in 1985, never dreaming I would one day own it. Gos had the heart of a lion and the tenacity of a terrier. But above all he was a gentleman in the true meaning of the term. He played a quiet but pivotal role in transforming the face of the UK church through CRE. Tens of thousands of people have benefitted from his vision.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Diana and the whole Home family, especially at this time of enforced social isolation.’
There is nothing good about this virus – but that does not mean good cannot come out of it. So said Rev Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop-designate of York, recently. With a prime minister in intensive care, millions at home on furlough, NHS staff under intense pressure and major religious, social and sporting events cancelled – this year’s Holy Week finds us all in unprecedented territory.
However, lockdown hasn’t meant a let-up in local ministry. Video conferencing has been available to churches for many years but until now has been taken up by relatively few. Now hundreds are reaching out beyond the church walls through Zoom – and doing worship and mission in a new and creative way.
We think this exciting wave of innovation deserves to be highlighted, so we’ve produced the resource list below, featuring initiatives from our exhibitors to help you and your church during lockdown. Follow the links for more information – and if you use the resources, please let the providers know CRE sent you!
Church resources for lockdown
Need help webcasting or streaming your services? Novum AV will be more than happy to help!
You can now stream or webcast services legally, thanks to CCLI. Previously, it had only been possible to stream or webcast audio that included copyrighted songs.
Churches are invited to use iKnow Church at no cost until 30 Sep 2020 – to communicate more effectively with members, communities, accept online donations, message small groups and much more.
Stewardship are answering key questions currently facing churches concerning finances, paying staff, Gift Aid and emergency help to those in need.
Access Insurance are working with insurers to relax the normally very specific policy conditions where church buildings are not in regular use.
Youth for Christ have released videos specifically designed for 7-11s, 11-18s and families – to help us ‘stay in continuous communication and togetherness’.
For those facing social isolation, the Open Bible Trust have made 100 Bible puzzles available free of charge.
CPO are offering a list of links to resources, ideas and tools for use during the lockdown.
Forge Leadership Consultancy are running a series of six webinars at 3pm every Thursday until 7th May to help relationships thrive during social distancing.
Home schooling? Check out a list of Easter-based resources from Meaningful Chocolate.
CRE in 2020 and 2021
As for the exhibition itself – we expect CRE National 2020 (13-15 October, Sandown Park, Surrey) to go ahead as normal, but are reviewing the situation continually and expect to make a final decision sometime in June, based on government advice. Your thoughts and prayers for the team at a difficult time are appreciated.
Whatever happens, CRE will stay in business – whether our next exhibition is at Sandown Park in October, or at Westpoint, Exeter, on 17-18 March 2021.
As Bishop Stephen rightly says – great things come out of situations that seem hopeless. But isn’t that what Easter is all about?
Simeon the Stylite (who died on 2 September 459 aged 68) was a big fan of self isolation. He spent 37 years alone on a platform one metre square, at the top of a pillar 50 feet high in Telanissa (modern-day Taladah in Syria). Boys from the nearby village would pass him parcels of bread and goats’ milk and he spent the days praying and talking to visitors brave enough to climb the ladder.
We may consider Simeon’s self-imposed asceticism as eccentric but it is said his preaching ‘conveyed temperance and compassion and was marked with common sense and freedom from fanaticism.’ Perhaps Simeon’s isolation meant he discovered truths impossible to acquire in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
While we all wish for a swift end to these unprecedented times, we would do well to see such trying circumstances as an opportunity to learn important lessons about ourselves – and in so doing experience the grace of God anew (see James 1:2). In turn, we will become a richer blessing to others.
As a team, we’ve practised intense social isolation since taking over CRE four years ago! None of us lives within 40 miles of the other and, working from home, we use all methods of electronic communication currently available to us. However, we are well aware that for many individuals and organisations it is a very different story. The Coronavirus crisis has put many endeavours at serious risk, long-term. We expect CRE National 2020 (13-15 October, Sandown Park, Surrey) to go ahead as normal, but we are reviewing the situation on a daily basis and expect to make a final decision sometime in June.
Whatever happens, CRE will stay in business – whether our next exhibition is at Sandown Park in October, or at Westpoint, Exeter, on 17-18 March 2021.
It’s been encouraging to see several of our exhibitors going out of their way to help local churches in these extraordinary times. Novum AV and Church Edit, for example, have introduced special facilities to enable churches to communicate more effectively, by way of improved websites and broadcasting services. We will be publicising similar initiatives over the next few weeks – so check back often!
In conclusion, we would like to thank you again for your continued support. We are especially mindful of people attempting to work from home who have young children around their legs and, like Simeon the Stylite, are also going up the pole!
With every blessing
Christian Resources Exhibitions Ltd
Organisers of CRE Midlands (4/5 Mar, NAEC, Stoneleigh Park) were encouraged by a positive response from exhibitor and visitor alike after fearing the worst from coverage surrounding the Coronavirus.
‘We groaned when, just before the exhibition opened, we heard the London Book Fair had been cancelled,’ admitted managing director Steve Goddard. ‘Several emails arrived from people who had pre-registered for the exhibition, apologising that they weren’t going to come because of the health risk. And those were just the ones who thought to tell us!
‘However, as we know from putting on the exhibition for more than three decades, the quality of enquirer matters far more than quantity. While visitor numbers were understandably lower than we had originally anticipated, enough decision-makers came to make the event a genuine success.’
Almost half the visitors had never been to a CRE anywhere before.
‘Virtually every exhibitor told us our visitors were like sponges – determined to soak up new ideas, products and services,’ said Steve. ‘For that, we were truly thankful.’
Media coverage of the exhibition was extensive. As well as previews in periodicals like Church Times, Church of England Newspaper and Methodist Recorder, CRE Midlands was covered on nine BBC local radio stations and gained column inches in several regional newspapers including the Sunday Mercury, Coventry Observer, Rugby Advertiser and Warwick Courier. ITV’s Midlands Today filmed the exhibition and ran a feature twice in its regional news bulletin. The Daily Telegraph made a major splash of it all.
Dozens of stand bookings were taken for the next two exhibitions – CRE National at Sandown Park (13-15 Oct 2020) and CRE South-West at Westpoint, Exeter (17-18 Mar 2021).
‘We are grateful to everyone involved at Stoneleigh Park for backing us through a difficult few days,’ said Steve. ‘We are praying that the Coronavirus crisis will be over before CRE National at Sandown Park (13-15 Oct 2020) – not just for our sakes but for thousands of other event organisers worldwide.’
A number of people have asked whether the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE Midlands, 4-5 March) is going ahead, because there is so much in news about the effect of Coronavirus in other countries.
We want to assure everyone that the exhibition is going ahead as planned and we and our 150 exhibitors look forward to welcoming you.
The safety of visitors and exhibitors is at the forefront of everything we do. The UK risk level for coronavirus has been increased from low to moderate. However, the risk to individuals has not changed and remains low.
We are closely following government/medical advice and will have hand sanitisers in place around the hall. We ask all visitors to also adhere to the recommended common-sense advice about personal hygiene.
Being diagnosed with peritoneal cancer will not stop one determined lady from strutting her stuff as a model next week.
Rev Deborah Sandercock, priest-in-charge at St. Margaret’s and St. George’s in Prestwich, Manchester, will join up to a dozen other clerics for Clergy on the Catwalk, a special presentation of ecclesiastical clothing at CRE Midlands (11am, Wed 4 Mar).
‘The cancer has involved intensive treatment and I have lost my hair twice,’ said Deborah. ‘I went from blonde/fair to black, then no hair at all. One of the reasons for being involved in the catwalk is to show it is possible to live a full life with cancer.
‘Physical and emotional changes in the body can result in diminishing self-esteem, so it is important to demonstrate you are the same person inside. As a vicar, I want to be easily recognisable for my role but I also want to bring brightness, colour and hope, especially to those living with the disease. My congregation never know what hat, hair colour or wig I am going to be wearing – but by doing so I am allowing people to talk about it and my faith and role as vicar.’
A wide variety of formal and informal ecclesiastical clothing will be displayed on the catwalk by leading ecclesiastical textile designers like Hayes and Finch, Collared clergywear, Rev Naomi Nixon from Coventry and Lottie’s Eco from Stanford Bridge, Worcester, who make clergy clothing out of biodegradable bamboo.