Artistes and performers from the West End and across the UK have created a special video helping us pray for the arts and entertainment industry.
‘After the devastating effect that Covid-19 has had on our industry, the weekend of the BAFTA Awards (April 11) presented us with a welcome reminder that we need prayer more than ever!” said Chris Gidney, director of Christians in Entertainment. ‘As a commercial producer, writer and performer myself, I know how pressurised working in the business can be at the best of times but this year’s pandemic has caused huge destruction on people’s health, careers and creativeness – and we are still not sure when it will all get back to some sort of “normal”.
‘Some commentators in the media have suggested the entertainment business is in meltdown. This may be over dramatic but the crisis has certainly enabled people to see that showbiz is not all glitz and glamour and millionaire celebrities.’
The short video – created by Christians in Entertainment, Theatre Chaplaincy UK, the Arts Centre Group (celebrating 50 years in 2021) and The Catholic Association for Performing Arts – features performers, artists and creators presenting a prayer which can be watched here.
Looking to enter the age of streaming in a traditional place of worship? ICS Furniture may have the perfect and subtle answer.
St Paul’s, Slough, is located just north of the town centre and was built more than 100 years ago. Of traditional high Anglican style, it is faced internally and externally with stunning red brick and stone columns.
‘By creating a new main entrance in the south wall of the side chapel, the chapel and chancel has become a new foyer and hub for the building,’ explained Martha Clancy, market development manager at ICS. ‘The nave remains as the worship space with a new dais and seating. This creates more usable space and a better organised building.’
Designed by fellow CRE exhibitors JBKS Architects of Oxfordshire, the traditional church pews were replaced with the ICON 40 chairs (main picture) from ICS Furniture. The chair answered the need to create a more usable space. The intentional mixture of chairs with cross carvings and plain backs adds a further style dimension to the project.
And ICS also designed and crafted a discreet, eye-friendly sound desk (pictured above) to house the equipment required during services and events –a much-needed resource in this new age of services streamed live on the Internet.
ICS Furniture and JBKS Architects are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey)
A new poll has found a rise in spiritual openness among young people during the pandemic.
The survey, conducted by Savanta ComRes and commissioned by YourNeighbour, found that more than two in five 18 to 34-year-olds in the UK have prayed more often since the start of the pandemic and that one in three have read the Bible more often. The study involved 2,065 respondents and was conducted as part of the YourNeighbour Give Hope campaign running throughout Lent.
Dr Russell Rook, the co-founder of YourNeighbour, told Premier Radio: ‘Two in five young people have been praying more, 31 per cent have looked in the Bible to see if there’s some useful advice and guidance there. More than one in four have tried out church online. Maybe they wouldn’t have gone to the church at the end of the road but felt they could do it on their laptop, phone or iPad.’
In May, Youth for Christ are hosting a month of prayer for young people, called Pray Through May.
‘The month will be constructed around a prompt word that changes each day and forms the basis for asking the Holy Spirit to guide us in prayer,’ said Bethan Lawler, YFC’s national prayer coordinator. ‘You will also receive a short, helpful devotional and video for further inspiration.’
National Prayer Day, an online event on the 30 April from 10am to 2pm, will kickstart the initiative with several contributors, including many from YFC’s local centres, along with Mike Andrea from 24-7 Prayer and Canon J. John.
Click here to find out more about YFC’s Pray Through May.
Clerics sporting clothes made of biodegradable bamboo could soon be de rigueur – if one woman’s ideas catch on.
Lottie Sparey (pictured) is founder of Lottie’s Eco, a husband-and-wife team from Worcestershire who make clergywear from organic bamboo. ‘True comfort lies in that ahhh… feeling when you put something on after a hard day,’ she said. ‘I was studying contour fashion at De Montfort University and became interested in creating next level clothing that would look great and also protect the planet.
‘Bamboo is an amazing product, replenishing itself, once cut, within a year. A prolific grower, it needs no fertiliser or chemicals and very little water. It is 100 per cent biodegradable, absorbs more carbon dioxide from the air than cotton or timber and releases more oxygen into the environment. Unlike polyester and nylon synthetic fabrics bamboo breathes and has a unique softness which makes for great wearing.’
A third of people living with dementia felt like ‘giving up’ during lockdown, according to research by the Alzheimer’s Society.
And three in ten went for at least four days without a significant conversation with others.
‘For carers and churches serving older people, knowing how to support those impacted by dementia can be incredibly difficult,’ said Louise Morse, a cognitive behavioural therapist and expert in dementia. She has written an information pack, Putting the Pieces Together, full of insight into dementia and related illnesses.
As well as practical information, the pack centres on the spiritual well-being of those living with dementia, and those caring for them. It is threaded through with the biblical principle that the person always remains – regardless of cognition or capacity. It also covers information and guidance at the point of diagnosis, support for the caregiver and ways to make the home safe for those living with dementia.
‘When dementia comes into your life you need all the information you can get – but you don’t have time to read a book about it,’ said Louise. ‘Secular advice springs from the understanding that we are simply the sum of our parts but within a Christian context we are eternal beings in human bodies.’
Click here for more information about the pack which costs £12.
Louise, who works with the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, has also recorded a seminar offering practical and spiritual support for dementia caregivers, on CRE TV. You can watch it here.
• Pilgrims’ Friend Society are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey) and CRE South West (23-24 Feb 2022, Westpoint, Exeter)
Lockdown Lent will be followed by an at-home Easter, so CRE has teamed up with Little Worship Company to dispel the gloom and bring young people some top-quality, seasonal DVDs – for free.
Wonderborn Studios create shows that set out to entertain and engage young people as much, if not more than similar offerings elsewhere – all the while communicating what it is to live like Jesus, in peace, hope and love.
And, as a special offer to CRE News readers, you can discover one of their DVDs, for postage cost alone. Bring the order up to £10 – the colouring books and devotionals are also good value – and the postage is free, too!
‘By the time a young person reaches 18 they will have engaged with media – film, tv and games – for 35,000 hours,’ explained Wonderborn’s Duncan Reid. ‘During the same period they will have spent 9,000 hours in school, 2,500 hours talking with their parents and 900 hours in church. With this glaring disparity it’s no wonder that the good news of Jesus is often drowned out, meaning fewer young people are carrying on in faith into adulthood.’
Beautiful, fun and colourful, Wonderborn’s products have young people right at the centre – helping families discover God together.
‘If you know families in your community who would also benefit from this offer, please share it with them,’ said Duncan. ‘While we’re all stuck at home this is a great way to share the freedom that is ours in Jesus.’
• Click here to order your free DVD.
As we enter the new world of hybrid events, one centre is pioneering the perfect solution for your church.
‘At Yarnfield Park you can stay with us and enjoy our spacious leafy green site and comfortable conference facilities,’ explained Yarnfield’s Natalie Hulme. ‘At the same time, those church members unable to join you in person can tune in from the comfort of their own homes.’
The centre offers use of up to three of the latest 4k high-definition cameras, enabling organisers to stream live events around the world.
A spokesperson from the Methodist Diaconal Order said: ‘The staff at Yarnfield Park are professional, friendly and have the most helpful “can do” attitude and are a delight to work with. They have worked closely with us to look at lots of options for our annual convocation to take place as a hybrid event. Best of all, we don’t have to worry about any of the technological aspects and can still achieve a professional, high-quality result.’
• Yarnfield Park are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey)
Daffodils bloom, lambing begins and the estate comes alive again – for the pandemic-weary Lee Abbey will become a place for renewal and refreshment this Spring.
‘Our doors will open to welcome you, to rest and be restored,’ said Gordon Crowther, the abbey’s warden. ‘We want you to be freshly inspired by encountering this place, the community and the wonders of God.’
Under the government’s programme of lockdown relaxation in April, Tea Cottage will open for tasty cream teas and self-catering units will open to allow visitors to enjoy the area even before residential programmes are possible.
School visits and outdoor activities at the Beacon Centre will follow and in July the main house will open, to provide opportunity for holidays, group stays, retreats and conferences.
‘This season has challenged us to simplify,’ added Gordon. ‘Worldwide, we are waking up to the urgent need to live within the means of the planet – to live simply. Our rhythm of life and daily programme will reflect this but we still feel called to offer the same generous hospitality that shares God’s welcome. After the challenges of the past year, we recognise, more than ever, the need to learn to live in community with people from different backgrounds; to live with and learn from each other, the way of Jesus Christ.’
A recent guest (who came between lockdowns) said: ‘…a loving, peaceful, support between members of the community is palpable, in stark contrast to the stress and anxiety that governs much of my own workplace.’
‘So,’ says Gordon, ‘trusting in God, we are preparing to reopen Lee Abbey. We invite you to partner with us, help to build community and be part of the adventure of learning to live with one another and with God. Our hope is that many people will encounter God, have their lives, communities and environments transformed.’
• Lee Abbey are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey) and CRE South West (23-24 Feb 2022, Westpoint, Exeter)
Poets, rap artists, sculptors, animators, designers, to name just a few, have joined forces to bring Easter to the world in a fresh way.
My Neon Life is a video launched over the holiday weekend for churches to use in their Easter Sunday services.
‘In Greek, neon means “new”’, explained Stew Smith, chief creative officer at Christian Publishing & Outreach (CPO). ‘It’s also our vision for Easter 2021. As we approach the easing of lockdown restrictions, we want to flood the UK with hope, reconciliation and gratitude – to magnify the message of new life found in the Easter story.’
CPO joined up with the team at Digital Church Toolkit to plan a campaign across print, online and in churches. They started by sharing stories of hope on social media, then launched a competition for UK Christians to create art which expresses the meaning of Easter in their own lives.
‘We engaged with poets, rap artists, sculptors, animators, spoken-word artists, writers, dancers, designers, videographers – anyone creative,’ said Stew. ‘Finally, we partnered with a Christian creative collective based in Bath, called Orphan No More.’
Together with Orphan No More, CPO have produced a video which communicates the story of Easter in an original way, highlighting the hope we can all find in the Gospel. Launched over Easter weekend, the video is available for download and can be included as part of churches’ Easter Sunday services.
‘We believe there has never been a better time to creatively capture the imagination of our nation with the Gospel,’ said Stew.
• Click below to see and download the video:
Popular author and CRE speaker Michael Penny could not resist the invitation from the trustees of The Open Bible Trust to write a book about John the Baptist.
It follows previous books on Peter, Paul, John and James (the brother of Jesus) written by the 77-year-old.
‘John is an intriguing character,’ he explained. ‘I was surprised when I analysed the New Testament that it doesn’t start with the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary and telling her she is to be the mother of God. Instead we read of Gabriel telling Zechariah that in their old age he and his wife are to have a son who was to go before the Lord. I suddenly realised how influential John was. It was an exciting study which I believe can be helpful to others.’
Michael was influential in launching The Open Bible Trust in 1984, taking on the role of administrator and editor. Moving to America to pastor a church there for nine years he returned to continue his role with the trust. In recent years he has accepted invitations to speak in many countries. He is also chief chaplain for Active Learning, offering help to chaplains and students in up to 19 colleges.
The new book, John the Baptist: His Life, Teaching and Impact, is available for £7.50 from The Open Bible Trust.
You can also watch a new seminar, Learning from Missionaries before Paul, presented by Michael on CRE TV.
The Open Bible Trust is a non-denominational charity which encourages people to read the Bible and to put its teaching into practice.
The Open Bible Trust are on stand S91 at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey)