CRE News

Dave HallByDave Hall

Masada, mocha and Rev Andy’s mission

Warning! That figure hunched all morning over a laptop in an Earl’s Court café may be a vicar.

When Rev Andy Roland, 73, retired in 2015 he started a new career as a writer – and now spends his mornings at a local coffee house, logged on to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. In the afternoon he writes books.

And the products of his efforts will be visible at CRE 2018 – on a stand just outside Cindy’s Bar and ‘near enough to smell more coffee’.

Bible in Brief, his key volume, is an interactive six-month overview of the scriptures with a chapter to read each day and a question to answer on the opposite page. He invites readers to post their comments online – and he replies, in between sips of mocha.

Five Steps to Faith, his latest book, will be available at the exhibition.

‘In this one I invite you to go to someone’s home and present the Christian faith in five steps by asking questions,’ he explained.

Each section has an interactive point. In the first section, for instance, is a prayer for the family which a parent can pray with their children at bedtime.

‘You can’t help but be moved when you do that,’ he said.

Other books available at CRE will include A Week of Prayer in Jerusalem – recounting one of his many visits to the city.

‘I have written about people I met in the street and raise questions that are likely to affect anyone visiting Israel for the first time,’ he explained. Andy helped on excavations at Masada, the mountain fortress in which 970 jewish rebels committed suicide rather than face captivity by the Roman troops surrounding the mountain.

There is also Job – his play for public performances.

A former personnel officer at Imperial College, Andy trained at Durham University for the Anglican ministry and spent 21 years as vicar at All Saints Hackbridge and Beddington Corner in Surrey before ‘retiring’ in 2015.

The Bible in Brief website includes plenty of useful information for people keen on honing their Bible knowledge, including six-month readings from Bible in Brief; nine short animated films on Old Testament characters; prayer leaflets to accompany Discovering Psalms as Prayer; three music videos to use in public performances of Job, two short videos to accompany the Five Steps to Faith book, as well as many Bible blogs on biblical questions.

You will find Rev Andy Roland at Rev Andy Books, stand B9 at CRE 2018

Dave HallByDave Hall

Bryn, blues and a blessing behind bars

Before visiting prisons, legendary slide guitarist Bryn Haworth had no idea about the church behind locked doors.

‘It started in 1990 with a “nagging” Bible verse,’ recalled Bryn, in concert at CRE 2018 (3pm, Wed 17 Oct). ‘Matthew 25:36 says “When I was in prison you visited me.” I discovered brothers and sisters who had simply got into trouble and needed help.’

That first exploratory visit developed into the Music in Ministry Trust with Bryn and wife Sally reaching dozens of prisons across the UK.

‘Prisoners are starved of resources – books, song books, music equipment, people to talk to and pray with them,’ said Bryn, now 70. ‘It has been shown that inmates who maintain healthy contact with the outside world are six times less likely to reoffend. And prisoners specially respond to the blues!’

At the end of a recent service in Wandsworth Prison, three men came forward saying they needed forgiveness for what they had done.

‘They had real urgency on their faces,’ said Bryn. ‘It was wonderful to pray with them and see the relief on their faces.’

He is well aware that not everyone is called to work in prison but he will be at CRE to show visitors how they can pray, read the biographies of ex-prisoners, use the Fine Cell web site for Christmas shopping, or even eat at The Clink Restaurant! There is one inside four prisons in the UK – Brixton, Cardiff, High Down in Surrey, and Styal in Cheshire. The restaurants train prisoners in culinary skills to help them find work on leaving prison.

Visitors to CRE will also find out how they can join The Welcome Directory and learn how to help ex-offenders turn their lives around.

Bryn and Sally will be on Stand E3 at CRE 2018

Bryn will be in concert in Cindy’s Bar (3pm, Wed 17 Oct)

Dave HallByDave Hall

Cliff: light at the end of the tunnel

A well-honed Cliff – he was preparing to play Heathcliff at the time – is presented (in the photo above) with a stunning waistcoat at the opening of CRE 1994.

Made by top ecclesiastical textile designer Juliet Hemingray, the colourful garment was worn by the entertainer on succeeding TV programmes – much to the maker’s delight.

Juliet trained as an art and design teacher in Derby but was unsuccessful in securing a teaching post and spent the next few years ‘mending clothes and making curtains.’ In 1980 a friend approached her to design and make an embroidered preaching scarf/tippet to wear at children’s services.

‘He wanted to express the Gospel in a lively and colourful way,’ recalled Juliet, one of CRE’s most loyal exhibitors. And so was created a design featuring the God of creation who made the heaven and the earth – ‘a fun scene of hills, sheep, fish, stars, moon, sun and sky.’

Word got around and the back room of Juliet’s Victorian house was soon bursting at the seams. Her Aladdin’s cave is now in an old Victorian railway bonded warehouse. Over the years she has been commissioned to produce thousands of stoles, altar frontals, banners, copes, mitres, chasubles and other religious regalia – hundreds of orders coming from CRE visitors.

The enthronement robes worn by the former Archbishop of the Canterbury, Dr George Carey, were made by Juliet. On the release of the Archbishop’s special envoy Terry Waite, Juliet was commissioned to make a special chasuble celebrating his freedom.

‘I chose rich golds, yellow and oranges, portraying the light he was starved of for so long,’ she explained.

Her forte is taking a seed of an idea and making something that is not only a visual aid to worship but also something of beauty that will speak of the fullness and richness of the gospel of Christ.

‘It may have been presented to him years ago but Cliff, like Terry, has come through some very dark times,’ said CRE managing director Steve Goddard. ‘Juliet’s sumptuous waistcoat expresses the light he found at the end of a long, long tunnel.’

Juliet Hemingray is on stand S131 at CRE 2018

Dave HallByDave Hall

Marguerite revs up for Sandown debut

A ‘Mecca’ for artists and those who love creative thinking on cards, posters and mugs – that’s the thinking behind CRE 2018 exhibitor Marguerite’s Dreams.

Artistic block, however, caused by years of teaching design and technology, almost stopped founder Marguerite Slater from any creative endeavour. The turning point came when she attended a course based on The Artist Way, a book by Julia Cameron, where she discovered other people liked her designs. Later, a work colleague told her she should be doing more – and promptly helped her set up a website.

Now Marguerite is bringing her own range of colourful, sometimes quirky designs to CRE 2018 – inspired by the Bible and creation. She has made a full-time job out of something she not only loves, but in which she is very proficient. One of her first designs – Ask Seek Knock – begins with a keyhole through which nothing is visible and then blossoms into a wonderful view of creative glory.

‘After many years of feeling blocked, it expresses how free I felt,’ she said. ‘I want people to wonder what is on the other side of the door – and how to get through. This is how I feel about so many things, including art, and the people I meet. I enjoy seeing God open up opportunities or exposing things I have missed with my own eyes.’

Working with watercolour and mixed media, Marguerite is now seeing her work sold in art shops and other retail establishments. Best of all, it not only expresses her faith but gives pleasure to those who buy it. And now you can see it all for yourself at Sandown Park in October.

Marguerite’s Dreams is on stand S27 at CRE 2018

Dave HallByDave Hall

Open for the best: Michael’s mission just goes on growing

Looking for that ‘missing something’ between deep theology and daily reading notes sparked the Open Bible Trust into being.

‘A group of us set out in the 1980s to encourage people to widen their interest in the whole Bible,’ said founder Michael Penny. The newly-formed trust created a bi-monthly magazine, Reach, which offered a number of Bible studies and opened up biblical books in an easy-to-understand manner. Several more publications followed.

A former director of maths and business studies, Michael spent nine years as the minister of a church in America. Now 75, his vision has not dimmed and his seminars at CRE are usually oversubscribed.

He will introduce his latest book on the Apostle Peter at this year’s exhibition. It deals with his life and letters as well as the various traditions over his death. It follows James: His Life and Letters and Paul: A Missionary of Genius. He will also point visitors to CDs by various speakers, Bible study DVDs, a series of study booklets. Reach will also be available.

Among other new products on display at CRE will be Studies in Ruth, Amos: The Lion Has Roared, The Upper Room Discourse, Paul in the Jewish Synagogues and The Destiny of the Damned.

Open Bible Trust are on stand S91 at CRE 2018

Michael Penny will speak on Perplexing Parables at CRE 2018 (11am, Thu 18 Oct)

Dave HallByDave Hall

Young respond to the Common good

Visitors to CRE 2018 will enjoy the beauty of The Book of Common Prayer – some for the first time.

‘Many people under 50 have never experienced a church service using the beautiful and traditional language of the Prayer Book,’ explained Prudence Dailey, chair of the Prayer Book Society. ‘Liturgical reform in the Church of England during the 70s meant growing numbers of churches opted instead for contemporary language versions of services.’

Exhibiting at CRE for the first time since 2012, the society will encourage visitors to consider using The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for worship or, if they are already doing so, to use it more.

‘The Prayer Book is as relevant today as it ever was and increasingly it is being appreciated by young adults,’ said Prudence, who pointed out a growing interest in the society’s activities by people in their 20s and 30s. The society also hosts the Cranmer Awards, a national competition in which hundreds of 11 to 18-year-olds across the country memorise prayers and readings from the BCP and then recite them to an invited audience.

The BCP was compiled by Thomas Cranmer, a leader of the Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I, by drawing extensively on his personal library of 600 printed books and more than 60 manuscripts.

‘While the society is rooted in tradition, we understand contemporary church environments and the pressures clergy face,’ said Prudence, who believes many young clergy will be enthusiastic about using the BCP in services.

‘It is more than just the beauty of the language of the Prayer Book which appeals to me,’ one ordinand told her. ‘I like the fact that it is quite literally a book of common prayer which not only belongs to all people but contains prayers for every stage in our journey through life.’

The Prayer Book Society’s stand will offer an opportunity to examine the Cranmer legacy and its huge impact on the Church – and find out about recent initiatives to encourage its use.

The Prayer Book Society is on stand S148 at CRE 2018

Dave HallByDave Hall

Tackling taboos: Sarah calls for honest conversations about sex

With relationships and sex education becoming statutory in schools in September 2019, Sarah Smith (pictured) will be at CRE 2018 to help Christian educators deliver this important topic in schools, churches and other youth settings.

In her seminar on Youth and Children’s Day at CRE 2018 – ‘A Guide to Growing Up: how to have honest conversations with young people about puberty, sex and God’ (11am, Thu 18 Oct) – visitors will gain an insight into the relational and sexual health issues young people face today.

‘It is vital that parents/carers and youth leaders tackle topics often seen as taboo and become more effective in talking about bodies, relationships and sex,’ said Sarah, CEO of CRE exhibitor acet UK, a Christian charity delivering relationships and sex education in secondary schools and training to youth workers, teachers and parents.

Her book A Guide to Growing Up is published by another CRE exhibitor, Lion Hudson and features detailed chapters on topics such as masturbation and same-sex attraction. A Guide to Growing Up aims to support parents in talking to their children and is an essential guide in any young person’s journey – ‘a guide they can go back to time and again.’

Acet UK are on stand S12 and Lion Hudson are on stand YZ11 at CRE 2018


Bags of blessing for India’s ‘untouchables’

Giving holistic freedom to women trapped in caste-based discrimination, poverty and hopelessness is the mission of Promise Bags – returning to CRE after a successful debut in 2017.

‘Dalit (Untouchable) women have been trapped for 3000 years in a caste system that has brutalised, discriminated and treated people as less than animals,’ explained Promise Bags’ Elisha Chowtapalli. ‘Employment is a tool for their freedom. The unique power of a job empowers and gives dignity to women trapped in poverty.’

The company currently employs 12 women in a safe, loving and caring environment.

‘We started with six in 2015,’ said Elisha. ‘Our dream is to employ 100 by 2025.’

Together, they create beautiful and high quality leather and jute bags, handcrafted with passion.

‘Each and every small detail is taken care of,’ said Elisha. ‘We can even offer customised products, personalising them with a logo, embossed names, initials or messages to promote a business or brand.’

Part of the profits goes towards the Dalit Children Home and English Medium School, run by Promise Bags.

Promise Bags are on stand S26 at CRE 2018


Marilyn returns – by popular demand!

One of the most popular performers at the Christian Resources Exhibition returns to CRE in October.

Blind almost from birth, Marilyn Baker began to write and sing her own songs in the early 1980s, releasing a series of albums which aimed to draw people into God’s healing presence.

Word spread and soon churches were inviting her to do evangelistic and encouragement concerts. She gave up her job as a music teacher and started ministering full time, travelling extensively in Britain and many parts of the world. A familiar performer at Spring Harvest and other major Christian events, Marilyn quickly became Britain’s top-selling female gospel singer.

In 1986 she was joined by Tracy Williamson, whose gifts in speaking and prophecy enriched the music with a new dimension. Marilyn’s recordings and Tracy’s books enabled them to reach an even wider audience.

As well as concerts, Marilyn and Tracy undertake church encouragement weekends, workshops and conferences. They minister to large or small groups or in elderly people’s homes and prisons. Wherever they are, the focus of the ministry remains the same.

‘Our heart is to see people entering into joy instead of mourning, beauty instead of ashes, praise instead of despair,’ said Marilyn. ‘We want them to understand the intimacy of God’s tender love and be empowered by it to reach out to others, that they too may be healed and changed.

‘He has been wonderfully faithful guiding and providing for us over all these years and has brought so much transformation to individuals and groups. We are excited about what lies ahead in his plans for us.’

Marilyn Baker will perform at CRE 2018 on Tue 16 Oct


The power of prayer: how Ignatius is proving infectious

A prayer technique developed by a 16th century Spanish priest is reaching people who wouldn’t dream of darkening a church’s door.

In what began as a small experiment by Methodist minister Rev Clive McKie, Ignatian prayer is being accessed online in more than 46 countries on six continents, through CRE 2018 exhibitor Taketime meditation.   

‘Christians are finding a fresh breeze gently blowing through their faith,’ said Clive, currently minister of Reigate Methodist Church in Surrey, ‘but what is more striking is how the technique is welcomed by agnostics, atheists and those who have wondered about faith but found church too daunting.’ 

The trickle-down effect is that people are experiencing God’s love and encountering Christ – their changed lives affecting others with a slow but steady movement for good. 

Clive is now training churches of all denominations to run local Taketime Together groups, accessible to all – especially those with no church background.  You can find out how on the Taketime stand at CRE 2018.

‘It is an invisible, community venture,’ said Clive, ‘with no big event, no bunting, no fanfare… just God’s word quietly going out into the world and transforming it.’

Taketime are on stand S149 at CRE 2018