Category Archive CRE News

Dave HallByDave Hall

Making a difference this Christmas is on the cards

If your church sends greetings cards to the local community, there are 50,000 reasons why you should source them from Just Cards Direct.

The company was established in 2007 and designs and sells high-quality Christian cards and gifts. 

‘We support craft projects in Africa,’ said the company’s founder Anne Stiles. ‘So far we have donated £50,000 to Christian charities.’ Having received numerous requests for their products, Just Cards now offer a dedicated churches’ account and discount.

‘You will receive 25 per cent off all of our products, including cards, notebooks, colouring products, colouring pencils, coasters, mugs, keyrings and lots more,’ said Anne.  

There’s also an invoice facility with 30 days’ free credit, which means no delay in getting your supplies. 

‘Even if you’ve never sent cards before as a church, this year might be a good time to start,’ said Anne. ‘With thousands of people isolated in their homes through Covid-19, why not send a Christmas card to those in your parish, or a small gift hamper to a struggling family?’

For more information click here.

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Trust130: Insure your house and bless your church

One church in Leicestershire is staying at the heart of the community, thanks in part to a leading insurance company.

St Catherine’s Church, in Burbage near Hinckley, recently refurbished its kitchen – and £910 from Ecclesiastical Insurance came in very handy during the process.

Under Ecclesiastical’s Trust130 campaign, every time a new customer takes out a new home insurance policy the company offers to donate £130 to the church or cathedral of the customer’s choice.

‘Trust130 has been great for us,’ said Revd Andrew Hall, rector of St Catherine’s. ‘We have run a regular advert in our parish magazine, put posters in the porch and mentioned it in services. The response has been really terrific.

‘The kitchen is very important to the church members and also to the wider community. In normal times, we use it for luncheon and parent-and-toddler clubs, the Mothers’ Union, the WI, the choir, bell ringers… you name it, they’re in there!

‘It was looking very tired and in need of updating but with the help of the Ecclesiastical money and other donations we now have a space that is very modern and fit-for-purpose.’

Trust130 was launched in 2017, to celebrate Ecclesiastical’s 130th anniversary. To date, the company has given more than £325,000 to 845 parishes around the UK. Click here for more information.

• Ecclesiastical Insurance will be exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey 12-14 Oct)

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Hoops, hope and a helping hand

The tranquil croquet lawn at the College of St Barnabas has seen little action this summer – another casualty of Covid-19!

The college is still a haven for some 60 elderly people, however, just as Canon William Cooper planned when he started the home in 1895.

‘Despite restrictions on visitors, and face-masks hiding the features of the staff, it is still a place to which Anglican clergy can retire and feel relaxed,’ explained Mike Herbert, a manager at the college.

The virus forced the college to cancel events during the annual Patronal Festival Week in June. This year sees the College celebrate its 125th anniversary.

‘We had a whole string of events planned to mark the milestone,’ explains Mike, ‘but the only one that could go ahead was my own 125km sponsored walk.’

Fr Kevin Scully, warden at the college, said: ‘Meeting the social welfare and healthcare needs of an ageing population is one of the major challenges of our time and the emergence of Covid-19 has made it all the more difficult.’

A one-time journalist and actor, Kevin moved from Australia to the UK to train for the priesthood and served as curate and rector for many years in London’s inner city, before taking on the challenge of leading the college.

‘There are significant number of Anglican clergy approaching retirement over the next decade and many will have inadequate retirement provision,’ he pointed out. ‘People also wish to remain in their own homes for as long as they are independent enough to do so but when they do need care it often has to be more specialised care because of their advancing years. Both are capacity and cost issues that need to be addressed urgently – the clock is ticking.’

The College of St Barnabas, a community of retired ordained and lay Anglicans, is an independent charitable care provider. 

While Covid-19 makes it much more difficult for the dedicated staff to achieve the college’s worldwide mission, it is a place which offers comfort and care to those in need.

All those years ago Canon Cooper saw many former priests in the workhouse. His determination to prevent that led to the college’s formation. 125 years on, clerical poverty still exists and the need is ever-present.

Click here for more information.

• The College of St Barnabas will be exhibiting at CRE South West 2021 (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 Mar) and CRE National 2021 (Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, 12-14 Oct)

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Three vicars discuss the ‘pillars of priesthood’

It’s an unlikely title for a BBC radio series but the formula has proved so popular that a book containing the best moments is launched next week.

Three Vicars Talking (SPCK) brings together Revd Richard Coles who particularly loves funerals (‘where you go into the mystery of God’), Revd Giles Fraser who loves baptisms (‘where you enter into the body of Christ, you’re reborn’) and Revd Kate Bottley who particularly loves weddings (‘they have really good canapes and champagne and I get to wear nice shoes!’)

‘Baptisms, weddings and funerals are the three great pillars of our job,’ said Coles, who has reported from CRE for BBC Radio 4. ‘I think funerals are the greatest privilege of what we do’. The three share stories of poignant deathbed moments and funerals which didn’t go quite to plan. They discuss handling pain and fear, funeral etiquette, unusual requests and funerals which have been especially hard – including Fraser burying his best friend and having a crisis of faith after a child’s funeral – as well as their often-outrageous plans for their own ‘sending off’. 

Covering marriage, the three discuss unusual wedding requests, including Coles being asked to dress as Long John Silver for a pirate-themed wedding. Bottley, who was a special guest at National CRE in 2015, divulges her wedding ‘tool kit’ (including sewing kit, spare shoes and socks, and a spanner). Ultimately, all three agree that weddings can be ‘utterly beautiful and wonderful.’ 

The three discuss baptising premature babies and baby loss with Fraser sharing how the death of his brother as a baby still has a lasting impact on him. Yet there is time too for discussing lighter subjects, including unusual baby names and traditions, the logistics of baptising babies when you’re short and a lively discussion about favourite fonts! 

Reflecting during lockdown, the three consider Easter 2020 to be ‘the weirdest in our careers’ (Coles), while Fraser describes it as ‘the most Eastery, certainly the most Lenten Lent I’ve ever been through’.

The three also consider what the church will look like post-lockdown, sharing their hopes and fears. 

Click here for more information.

Photo: Neil Morrow, BBC

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Against the pandemic odds, the (plain) truth is out there

One magazine received an unexpected boost during lockdown with more requests to reproduce its articles.

‘Shortly after attending Midlands CRE in March, as lockdown descended, an encouraging pattern emerged amongst some elderly readers,’ said Mary Hammond, editor of The Plain Truth.

Throughout the pandemic, government guidance has meant that the majority of church members aged over 70 have been unable to attend services, personal prayer activities or other events in person.

‘We’ve witnessed a growing number of requests to use or reproduce our articles,’ said Mary. ‘We’ve also seen a huge rise in the number of requests – 900 to date – for our free book of inspiring articles previously appearing in our magazine by Rev Roy Lawrence.’

One housebound 93-year-old widow in the Midlands was so inspired by Roy’s book that she asked for another copy to go to a frail (non-Christian) friend in hospital to ‘give her some Christian encouragement in her time of need’.

One 95-year-old man, Mr AJM, wrote: ‘Brother David Jardine’s article is the best summing-up call to current effective prayer I have seen. I would like permission to share his “Lessons learned” in my next prayer letter.’

A delighted Mary commented: ‘The pandemic has meant that many elderly Christians may indeed be restricted – but not restrained – from sharing their zeal for the Gospel.’

• For a free subscription to The Plain Truth, click here

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

‘Fresh and green’: God has big plans for older people

For older people during the pandemic, Pilgrims’ Friend Society’s care homes and independent living schemes have proved an emotional lifeline.

‘We are passionate about providing residents with spiritual support, whether that’s through devotions with staff and other residents, or simply a quiet bedside prayer with another member of the community,’ said the society’s Helen McKay-Ferguson. ‘This has been especially significant over the past six months.’

The society’s homes and housing schemes have connections with local churches which many residents attend.

‘When visits to our homes are not restricted, invited speakers lead regular devotional times,’ said Helen. ‘Many local churches also provide practical support, through fundraising events, financial giving or volunteering and visiting.’

Psalm 92:14 reads: ‘They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.’

‘In a culture where negative views of aging abound, the biblical perspective is refreshing and energising,’ said Helen. ‘We have more than 200 years’ experience of supporting older people and believe God has big plans for them.’

Myrtle, a lady living at the society’s Framland home in Wantage, Oxfordshire, said: ‘I’m thankful to be alive and to be living here.’ Doris lives in an independent living scheme in Bedford. ‘It’s like having your own home,’ she said, ‘and at the same time being part of one big family.’

The society has a range of resources to help churches encourage their older members.

• Pilgrims’ Friend Society are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct 2021). For more information click here

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Looking after family and friends on the saddest of days

The comfort of seating at a crematorium is not the first thing that concerns families and friends gathering to remember a loved one but it’s an important issue to those who host the funeral.

‘Officials in charge of crematoria and funeral home spaces are keen to provide a context in sympathy with the deep emotions surrounding cremation, life and death,’ said ICS Furniture’s Martha Clancy. ‘As a company we are renowned for the design of our furniture which can be customised to reflect the design and feel of the architecture around it. Our focus is always the end user and we strive to ensure our seating provides exactly what is needed, in the right place at the right time.’

Thornhill Cemetery in Cardiff opened in 1952. During the crematorium’s first year there were just over 1000 cremations. There are now almost three times that number. A complete renovation was recently required with chairs replaced by benches. ICS Furniture were tasked with producing a bespoke, fully-upholstered bench with a curved gable in oak. A very simple line engraving was also included to draw the eye along the aisle. 

‘We pride ourselves on producing beautifully crafted and extremely comfortable benches,’ said Martha. ‘This is possible as the amount of foam used as the bench does not need to be stacked.’

Benches can be designed in both curved and straight formations and have the option of both an upholstered or solid back rest. Bookshelves provide storage for prayer books or information leaflets.

• ISC Furniture are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct 2021). For more information click here

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Fundraising? Click into gear with Ecclesiastical

Fundraising has always been vital for churches – and the internet has opened up many additional ways to increase much-needed funds.

With this in mind, Ecclesiastical have launched an easy-to-use online fundraising hub offering lots of great ideas and simple advice. 

‘It can be daunting to know where to start,’ admitted Michael Angell, church operations director for Ecclesiastical Insurance. ‘Drawing on our own experience of over 130 years’ working with churches and on the advice of fundraising experts, we’ve pulled together a range of top tips to help you grow your existing income streams and develop new sources of income.’

The hub includes guidance on digital fundraising – including crowd-funding and running online events, as well as using the web to keep your congregation and wider community informed and engaged. There is help with researching sources of grant funding and writing professional applications that can make all the difference to the answer you receive.

A series of video webinars includes one in which internationally-respected expert Caroline Underwood from Philanthropy Company, who has worked with global charities, shares some of her fundraising secrets.

Click here to find out more.

• Ecclesiastical Insurance will be exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey 12-14 Oct)

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Time we moved on from ‘science versus God’

If you are perplexed by the pandemic in particular and science in general, help is available from Christians in Science (CiS).

Exhibitors at the forthcoming CRE South West 2021 (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 March), CiS offer helpful material on a number of relevant subjects, including Coronavirus. Although primarily a professional group, a proportion of its almost 1000 members are not scientists.

‘We are happy to welcome anyone with an interest in science and faith,’ said CiS development officer Steph Bevan. Current members include highly distinguished senior scientists and gifted speakers. Local groups are scattered around the UK and Ireland.

‘It’s a common misperception that there is always conflict between science and faith and this can be abused by those with anti-Christian or anti-science agenda,’ explained Steph. ‘In reality, science has always been the domain of many committed Christians.’ She recalls how astronomer Johannes Kepler dedicated one of his papers with a prayer: ‘I have here completed the work of my calling, with as much intellectual strength as you have granted me.’ This same attitude is shared by many Christians who work in science today.

Four fascinating lectures, given at an online conference last month, include three on God and pandemics. All are available on the group’s YouTube site

Prof Bob White, FRS, speaks on Plagues and Pandemics: perspectives from science and faith. A professor of geophysics at Cambridge University and director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, comments: ‘Viruses such as Covid-19 travel around the globe at, literally, the speed of a jet airliner. At least in the high-income countries today we have developed the hubris of thinking we can control our world, that we are in charge. So when something like the Covid-19 pandemic hits us it’s a shock to our whole way of thinking, to our individualistic lifestyles, and it exposes the inequalities and injustices in our world.’

Dr Mirjam Schilling, a researcher at the University of Oxford working on the interplay of viruses and the innate immune system, asks whether viruses are part of God’s creation. ‘This year a virus is affecting all of us dramatically. But are viruses as evil and vicious as we like to portray them?’ she contends. ‘When you look at the pictures and images, there’s symmetry and beauty. We underestimate them because we think only about their function. It’s interesting how they mechanistically work. As we do more research we may be able to use them as a therapeutic agent in some way. I’m quite excited about viruses though I accept this is a very subjective view!’

Christians in Science produces a quarterly magazine, PréCiS, which informs its membership of science and faith events around the UK and Ireland and includes short articles and interviews. A current aim of CiS is to forge stronger links with local churches both to encourage congregations to see how science can enhance faith and worship and to help in outreach events by answering objections to belief based on mistaken ideas of a conflict with science. In these ways, CiS is offering itself to churches as a partner in mission.

Christians in Science (CiS) will be exhibiting at CRE South West (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 March).

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

Dave HallByDave Hall

Making a difference, one bauble at a time

Hand-blown by Muslims, hand-painted by Christians, shipped by Israelis – the 2020 Bethlehem Bauble will soon be appearing on a Christmas tree near you!

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.

Ros Pollock

‘The craftspeople working in the glass-blowing company were producing wonderful, delicate items but I had to convince them to make baubles which would bring a beautiful decorative Holy Land touch to any home,’ Ros explained.

Her enthusiasm won the day and with a different design for the collection each year, Bethlehem Baubles have the potential to become an abiding part of the Christmas experience – a perfect stocking filler and something unusual that tricky relative who is always difficult to buy for!

‘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.’

The baubles now sell in many renowned shops around the UK including many cathedral and church shops including Lambeth Palace and St. Pauls, and a host of gift shops and garden centres who have all embraced a project that encourages a genuine celebration of Christmas.

‘Our goal is to take Bethlehem Baubles around the world,’ said Ros. ‘The more we sell the more jobs we create, so we would love to find new customers. People are growing weary of putting cheap bling on their Christmas trees and want to celebrate in a more authentic way. By investing in something truly meaningful they can renew the spirit of Christmas each year – one bauble at a time.’

Click here for Bethlehem Baubles’ 2020 edition, available in dark blue, silver and turquoise at £13 + shipping. Also available are limited edition trio boxes – three beautiful baubles in a handmade wooden box that makes an original and thoughtful gift. Available for £32 + shipping.

Join our mailing list to make sure you receive a free copy of the CRE At Home 2020 handbook, which will be posted in October

Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey