Clever computer criminals want to take your money, your identity and even your church – that will be Dave Carlos’ stark warning to visitors at CRE Midlands 2020.
When it comes to cyber security, Dave has a lifetime of experience. An interest in home computers in the early 1980s resulted in his appointment as editor of Home Computing Weekly. The cover story on his first edition introduced readers to the way the early Prestel system had been hacked.
Eventually he started his own PR company, advising producers of computer games, before moving to CRE exhibitors Agape and Care for the Family. However, a request from a local group in Fleetwood determined his current role.
‘I devised a talk on computer security and presented it to a number of organisations,’ he recalled. ‘That same presentation has been revised substantially over the years and I can even provide a link to watch it online.’
Dave also works with Lancashire Police, giving presentations to groups, churches and companies.
‘I was accepted as a cyber volunteer and now also help to train new police officers!’ he explained. ‘Our work came to national attention when we were runners up in the prestigious Lord Ferrers Awards 2019 as Team of the Year for Volunteers in Policing.’
Dave’s CRE Midlands seminar – Cyber Security and Digital Safety in Your Church (date and time tbc) – will help church representatives and home computer users grasp basic safety measures when online.
‘There are so many devious criminals wanting to take over your computers, your money and even your identity, that it is a subject of crucial importance,’ he said. ‘Everyone using a computer and going online ought to be aware of the many pitfalls and how to protect themselves.’
An estimated 500,000 people are currently on an Advent journey with a Real Advent Calendar, according to Meaningful Chocolate pioneer David Marshall.
‘That number is made up of 150,000 children and other family members,’ said David, who founded the company 10 years ago. ‘Nearly 500 calendars have also been donated to a food bank scheme.’
It all began when the former communications director saw the wrapping on an egg that said ‘Easter is a season of chocolate and loveliness.’
‘I was shocked that a commercial company would make such a claim that was just not true,’ he recalls. ‘I couldn’t find anyone making an egg with any religious significance so I came up with the idea of a fair trade egg which told the original story.’
At first it was just a paragraph on the box. Now each egg comes with a 24-page activity booklet proclaiming the Easter story in full. The first egg was produced in time for Easter 2011. Supermarkets refused to sell it and major sales went through churches and church schools. Now more than a million eggs are produced and some supermarkets have begun to stock the product.
Six years ago David vision’s expanded to include Advent calendars – again using Fair Trade chocolate and proclaiming the real message of Christmas. The eggs and calendars are produced under Fair Trade regulations and the packaging contains no plastic and is fully recyclable. The company has donated more than £250,000 to charitable causes.
A charity born because UK farmers were forced to slaughter healthy dairy cows, is now in its fourth decade of operation.
In 1988, many UK dairy farmers were outraged by strict EU milk quotas which forced them to throw away good quality milk and even slaughter their herds. At the same time, families in Uganda were recovering from the country’s brutal civil war which had destroyed farm land and livestock.
A small group of Christian dairy farmers from the west country decided to donate some of their own dairy cows to rural families in Uganda. Send a Cow was born.
The charity continued to send livestock from the UK to Uganda until 1996 when the BSE crisis took hold. Since then, all livestock has been sourced from within Africa.
The charity works in six countries and provides a proven package of support and training in farming, hygiene, business skills and gender equality. More than two thirds of the people supported are women.
‘Every day, families face poverty that is extreme, cruel and worst of all unnecessary,’ said Ann Hatton, Send a Cow’s church development manager.
‘But rural Africa is rich with opportunity and where there is land, there is hope.
We don’t impose solutions, instead we focus on helping people grow them from within. Our African-designed solutions are developed with and for rural communities.’
Through taking part in Send a Cow’s projects, families receive the skills and confidence they need to get the most from their land, so they can grow enough food, earn a living and go after their dreams.
‘The charity now does much more than provide cows,’ said Ann. ‘We work with rural communities to make the most of their most precious resource – the soil beneath their feet – and create lasting self-belief.’
• Send a Cow are on stand C24 at CRE Midlands 2020
In a world where a fifth of 16 to 24-year-olds spend more than seven hours a day online, it’s time to reflect Jesus there.
So says Ben Elliott (pictured), head of innovation at CRE exhibitor CPO, who will lead a seminar at CRE Midlands (3pm, Wed 4 Mar) exploring ways to build your local church through social media.
‘Never before have we been exposed to such a sweeping change in such a short space of time,’ admits Ben. ’It’s easy to feel as though we’re on the back foot. We need to maximise all communication streams to share Jesus. A joined-up approach is required, linking print and digital.
‘If you’re facing burning questions about social media in your church and which networks you should be using, how often to post and what kind of content works best – come along and receive! You will leave knowing how to create a simple digital strategy.’
As well as his job at CPO, Ben is founder of the Church Comms Collective, a group which facilitates greater peer-to-peer support for church communicators across the UK. He is also a digital leader at his church, The Well, in Sheffield.
• CPO are on stand E1 at CRE Midlands 2020
Fake news is bad enough but is false theology even worse?
That will be the question posed by Rev Dr David Hilborn, principal of Moorlands College at CRE Midlands (12pm, Wed 4 Mar).
History is littered with people promoting extreme views that lead to tragedy. The Jonestown Massacre in 1978 and the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas in 1993, are just two examples. Actor Taylor Kitsch (pictured) played the part of Waco leader David Koresh in a recent TV series.
Various ‘theologies’ have become popular and influential – most notably those concerning prosperity, nationalism and the end times.
‘The adage that a lie has travelled round the world before truth has got its boots on, has never been more true,’ said Steve Goddard, owner and MD of CRE. ‘We live in a world where extreme views can be propagated easily through new media channels. All of us need an informed theology, not just the preacher in the pulpit.’
The Study Zone at CRE Midlands will give visitors of all ages an opportunity to choose a theological learning opportunity suitable for their lifestyle – and David Hilborn will launch the initiative with a seminar addressing fake theologies.
He is principal of a college that equips people passionate about Jesus to impact church and world. Moorlands has been based in Christchurch, Dorset since 1970, but in the last decade has run teaching centres in Birmingham, Torquay and Gloucester, with a new centre in Belfast due to open in September. David was head of theology at the Evangelical Alliance for a decade and held various senior posts in theological education before leading Moorlands. He is the author or editor of eight books and numerous articles.
‘The Study Zone is an excellent idea, showcasing the high-quality training and education on offer at a range of UK theological colleges,’ he said. ‘I’m thrilled to be part of it.’
Colleges in the Study Zone include:
London School of Theology
Oak Hill College
It’s the colourful outreach tool that is bucking the trend towards digital media.
UK monthly newspaper Good News has sold almost one million copies every year for the past six years. Used by churches of all denominations, the colourful, breezy publication features stories about celebrities and ‘ordinary’ people – showing how the Christian faith transforms lives.
Run by a small team as a registered charity, Good News started from scratch in 2001 and now sells more than 77,000 copies every month, with the Christmas edition rising to more than 100,000.
‘We are not publicising these sales figures to crow about them but to let local congregations struggling to reach their communities know that other churches have found a way to do it,’ said editor Andrew Halloway. ‘Good News distribution is a tried and tested method.’
The team receive a regular flow of responses from readers who have made faith commitments and from churches who relate how Good News provides opportunities for meaningful conversations.
One user in Orpington, Kent, said: ‘Praise the Lord that you keep the paper interesting to non-church folk. I deliver it to a number of people who live nearby and out of 80 people I’ve asked so far, more than 70 per cent like to read it, and only 26 per cent say they don’t want it.’
Free sample copies will be available at CRE North.
• Good News are on stand P34 at CRE Midlands where free sample copies will be available
For 20 years Anne Coomes (pictured) has provided editorial and graphics for church magazines of all denominations – and she will deliver a seminar at CRE Midlands helping editors make the most of their much-loved publications.
‘Church magazines still play a critical role in community life,’ said Anne, co-founder of Parish Pump. ‘They are a pro-active way to keep in touch with both church members and the community. Websites are good, of course, but how many people wake up and say to themselves: “I really must visit my local church website today!” However, if you deliver a magazine through their door, or hand one out in church, people WILL look through it – and if it is good, or relevant to their needs, you will keep their attention.
‘We know of at least one suicide that was prevented in this way. A magazine contained a Parish Pump article about depression, and it led to the person seeking help instead of over-dosing.’
Turning out a regular publication, against deadlines, can be a daunting task. Ironically, since computer software offered us generative text and spellcheckers, typographical errors (or typos) have actually increased in number.
‘Every editor can recall that awful moment when they realise their mistake and there’s nothing they can do about it,’ said Anne. ‘I once ran a headline that should have read: “Make flowers that look like satin.” But instead it said: “Make flowers that look like satan.” Not one of my more glorious moments!’
• Parish Pump are on stand P26 at CRE Midlands 2020
Running alongside CRE Midlands (4/5 Mar 2020) will be the first-ever Mission Resources Exhibition (Wed 4 Mar 2020).
Hosted by Mike Frith of OSCAR (pictured right), the one-day exhibition celebrates the organisation’s 20th birthday. It will feature more than 25 specialist organisations and up to 500 individuals from mission agencies and mission-minded churches, providing a unique networking opportunity.
‘This could be the largest gathering of the UK mission community in the past 20 years,’ said Mike. ‘OSCAR is the online hub that brings together mission stakeholders from across the Christian community – which means we’re uniquely placed to host the event. While the internet helps us achieve a great deal, rarely do we get an opportunity to share resources and build relationships. Face-to-face meetings are as important as ever, maybe even more so as opportunities to meet are fewer. Who knows, this may be the start of something more regular on the calendar.’
MRE will be located in a building next to CRE Midlands 2020 at Stoneleigh Park. Entrance will be free for all attendees. Those who book online for MRE will also be able to book for free admission to CRE Midlands.
Featured exhibitors include:
Register for MRE (Wed 4 Mar 2020 only) free of charge
A choir comprising people facing physical and mental challenges will open CRE Midlands 2020 (4/5 Mar 2020).
Created by well-known singer Sandra Godley, Gospability sang at Windsor before Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle last year. Sandra was inspired by Prince Harry’s Heads Together campaign which is supported by the Royal Foundation and is a partnership of charities providing frontline mental health support.
More than half the choir come from the Midlands and is made up of depression survivors, ex-Army wounded, breast cancer battlers as well as singers with bi-polar and clinical anxiety. Choir member Julie Hill, 45, works in customer service and has suffered an illness causing chronic back, neck and jaw pain since her 20s.
’It is a privilege to sing with such brave and inspirational people,’ she said. ‘I have been singing all my life. Music keeps me sane. My confidence has grown and the fresh perspective makes me feel like a new person. My pains are still a challenge but now I have more energy and zest to deal with it better – and new friends to help me.’
Another member who has been given a new lease of life is 35-year-old Coventry factory worker Tyrone, who suffers from anxiety.
‘Gospability has given me a sense of meaning, a sense of hope and loving care,’ he said. ‘I’m so happy I went along and I’m so happy I didn’t give up on life. I’ve been given this energy to do things out my comfort zone and to help others. I was able to share my story with complete strangers who I now consider to be brothers and sisters.’
More than 20 years after he became Britain’s first clergyman on the catwalk, Rev Andrew Roberts (pictured centre) will reprise the role at CRE Midlands 2020 – this time as the event’s presenter.
Based in Kingswinford in the West Midlands, Andrew, a Methodist minister, is author of the bestselling book Holy Habits (BRF).
‘I’m delighted that the superb suit made for me by Juliet Hemingray (pictured right) in the 1990s, which I use when officiating at special events like weddings, still fits!’ said Andrew. Formerly national director of training with Fresh Expressions, an agency that encourages new ways of ‘doing church’, Andrew has a wide-ranging speaking and teaching ministry. In 2018 he was a special guest of the Bishop of New York and next year will head down under to speak in Australia.
Held in an inflatable theatre on the first day of CRE Midlands (11am, Wed 4 Mar 2020, NAEC Stoneleigh Park), accompanied by lights and music, Clergy on the Catwalk will feature colourful, contemporary vestments and round-the-parish leisurewear from leading ecclesiastical designers like Hayes and Finch and Collared Clergywear.
‘The church has modernised in the past 30 years and what clergy wear reflects those changes,’ explained CRE event director Brett Pitchfork. ‘Gone are the usual three shades of grey. In has come a spectrum of colour and design which can be seen in everything from a royal wedding to the humblest Christening.’
Photo: CLERICAL COLLECTION: (left to right) Rev Cindy Kent MBE, Rev Andrew Roberts, Juliet Hemingray