CRE News

Dave HallByDave Hall

Open the Book: be part of the next chapter

More than 700,000 children are regularly hearing Bible stories at school – and you can become part of Open the Book’s next chapter at CRE 2017.

Using props and costumes to re-enact Bible stories during assemblies, some 14,800 volunteers from a variety of local churches currently access about 2600 primary schools. As a result, children are hearing Bible stories, many for the first time.

Major people and events are presented – Noah, Daniel and the life of Jesus, for example. The project comes at no charge to schools and often involves children and staff. Part of Bible Society, Open the Book’s vision is to bring the Bible to life to every child in every one of the 18,280 schools in England and Wales – reaching 4.5 million pupils.

As an independent charity in its infancy, the organisation took part in its first-ever CRE in 2012.

‘We had a smallish stand but were five deep in visitors for most of the day,’ recalls Val Ralston, Open the Book’s promotion and training officer. ‘My colleague and I were on the verge of losing our voices. Our chairman had to wave at us from afar!’

‘The exhibition provides a great platform to spread Bible storytelling into new parts of the country,’ explains Julie Jefferies, Open the Book’s development and training manager. ‘We meet storytellers, find out local news and receive helpful feedback. Good news travels fast and Open the Book is exactly the type of news people like to pass on. Consequently, the more people who take part, the more people they tell. It’s like passing on a tasty recipe – it’s easy to prepare, cooks quickly, tastes delicious and everyone likes it!’

• Open the Book is on stand S24 at CRE 2017

Photo: Linda Russell, Lynn Castillo and Wendy Bird, part of the Open the Book team from St Bartholomew’s, Wednesbury, performing The Wise Men’s Visit at St John’s C of E, Wednesbury.

Dave HallByDave Hall

The Bible: cool on the curriculum

Bible stories bursting into life at a touch on the iPad – that’s what visitors can expect to see at next week’s CRE 2017.

‘A shift is vital in the way children and young people are taught,’ said Museum of the Bible’s Mark Markiewicz. ‘At a time when most two-year-olds can access information on smart phones and tablets, we need to totally re-think our methods of communication. I am delighted that Museum of the Bible is playing a significant part in re-shaping religious education in the 21st Century – and you can find out how at CRE 2017.’

Harnessing the latest technology, and developed especially by Museum of the Bible, visitors will see biblical stories dynamically presented as never before.

‘Using Augmented Reality, brings the text book pages to life,’ said Julia Diamond-Conway of fellow exhibitor RE Today Services. ‘Level upon level of hidden information can be investigated by the student. Augmented Reality allows such a deep exploration of words and pictures and the investment in these new resources contributes towards putting RE at the forefront of innovative teaching methods.’

Julia will also lead a seminar at CRE – Religious Education and Technology (3pm, Tue 17 Oct).

Dave HallByDave Hall

Positively recycled: how Charlotte has been rescued and restored

Positively recycled is how Charlotte describes her life since coming into contact with CRE exhibitor Nicodemus.

‘I had an awful childhood, became homeless with a 13-month-old baby and felt beyond lost and alone,’ she recalls. ‘Then I met some people from Nicodemus, received a mentor who became a God-send and over time, just an incredible friend.’

Today, Charlotte is involved in Nicodemus’ youth leadership programme and creates presentations for schools and networking meetings.

‘My hope is to one day work for Nicodemus full time and use my own experiences to help others like me,’ she says. ‘I have been positively recycled and Nicodemus has done incredible things for me. I am excited about my future!”

Homeless and temporarily losing custody of her daughter, Rhiannon also came into contact with Nicodemus.

That was 18 months ago. Growing in confidence, she has started using her own personal experiences to write and deliver a course on domestic violence for other young adults. What’s more, with help from her mentor, she is now working on moving from supported living to her own accommodation. A passionate ambassador for Nicodemus, Rhiannon recently said: ‘I am limitless with this kind of support.’

Founded by Alastair and Debbie Welford, Nicodemus began with the the couple’s passion to rescue, restore and rebuild the most marginalised, overlooked and abandoned young people – empowering and equipping them to become change agents within their communities.

They embarked on a youth leadership and community action programme with the street children and young people of Latin America. There are now 60 young adults being supported through their youth leadership programme in Guatemala.

In 2013, they realised that there were many young adults in the UK with a similar profile to those in Guatemala. They were just ‘more hidden away’.

‘Young people face challenging circumstances growing up in poverty,’ explains Debbie Welford, who with Alastair will lead a seminar at CRE entitled ‘How your church can meet the needs of broken and marginalised people’ (11am, Thu 19 Oct).

‘We identify the need and work in partnership with others to bring solutions and an outcome that leaves a lasting legacy. We aim to equip young people to develop life skills, build up trust, stabilise and gently progress them to take leadership and ownership of their own lives. We love to partner with churches so pop by our stand at Sandown Park. Charlotte will be there and we’d love to meet you!’

Nicodemus are on stand C14 in the Youth Zone at CRE 2017

Dave HallByDave Hall

Tools for Twitter: how to grow your church through social media

The essential tools to build your church using social media will be outlined at CRE 2017.

‘Those who reject Christianity are highly unlikely to be reached by the traditional church,’ explains Laura Treneer of Christian Publishing and Outreach (CPO), who will lead the seminar with Rev Dan Beesley of St Mary’s, Princes Risborough (12 noon, Tue 17 Oct). ‘However, the same people are likely to spend, on average, 20 hours a week on the internet. This presents us with an amazing opportunity, if we know how to use it wisely.’

Combining missional vision with practical advice, the seminar covers information contained in Laura’s recently-published book Church Online: Social Media (BRF). You will understand why social media matters and how it works for churches, hear practical examples and inspiring stories from a panel of contributors and take away building blocks to develop your own local church digital strategy.

‘The seminar and book are aimed at church teams who want to reach their communities effectively,’ says Laura, recently appointed as the new chief executive of CPO. ‘The book is a perfect resource for church leaders and volunteers short on time who need fast, relevant advice. Whether you’re looking for a crash course, brief refresher or reference toolkit, you’ll find what you need in it. And, of course, you can pick up a copy after the seminar at CRE.’
Laura’s understanding of churches is helped in part by her husband’s role for the past 10 years as senior pastor of a Baptist church in Brighton.

‘CPO is a charity, and for 60 years has been serving the church in its communications,’ she says. ‘I believe it has a strategic role to play as a resource, not just for churches, but for charities, bookshops and suppliers.’

Laura Treneer and Rev Dan Beesley’s seminar, Building your church through social media, takes place at 12 noon, Tue 17 Oct. CPO are on stand S27 at CRE 2017

Dave HallByDave Hall

Bryn Haworth: playing the blues behind bars

Before he started 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,’ recalls Bryn, guest on Cindy’s Sofa at CRE 2017 (1pm, Thu 19 Oct). ‘Matthew 25:36 says “When I was in prison you visited me.” I discovered brothers and sisters there just like us. They had simply got into trouble and were more in need of help.’

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

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

As well as doing concerts, Bryn, a singer-songwriter with a distinguished history as a recording and live artist, takes Sunday services and leads workshops – liaising with prison chaplaincy departments. He and Sally have seen many prisoners ‘saved, healed and released in creative gifts.’ On release from prison, their lives have turned around for good.

‘We know some wonderful prison chaplains, with workloads beyond their capacity, managing to cope only with the help of a few volunteers,’ he says. He has recorded two albums specially for prisoners – Time Out and Inside Out – and has just released a compilation Water from the Rock.

‘Our vision for the future is to let the church “outside” know about the church behind bars and what an extraordinary ministry it is,’ explains Bryn who still does regular concerts and will sing a couple of songs during Cindy’s Sofa (1pm, Thu 19 Oct). ‘If you would love to get stuck in where you’re needed, talk to me at CRE!’

Music in Ministry Trust is Display Panel (DP) 6 at CRE 2017

Dave HallByDave Hall

Mark my words! Richard’s mission to make sense of the gospels

At 78, Richard Ferguson can still recite the whole of Mark’s Gospel by heart – though he might need ‘a bit of prompting’ these days.

The retired rural clergyman took nine months to write his own translation of Mark from the original Greek, published in a 190-page book Rock and Breakers. Available at Richard’s Making Sense of the Gospels stand FC9 at CRE 2017, the book includes his translation, comments to help the reader and two CDs containing his own reading of the gospel.

At the time, as area dean of Morpeth, he performed live recitals of the entire gospel in churches, halls and community centres throughout Northumberland. It took him two hours to recite the entire gospel with a short break in the middle. By his own admission his memory is not what it was – but he doesn’t need much prompting.

Now retired from his final job as vicar of Kirkwhelpington, Kirkheaton and Cambo united benefice, he has produced another five books to aid those who have never read the gospels or who find them difficult to grasp. His subsequent books include:

Footsteps – following on from the original book, this is written to help those who know nothing about Jesus Christ.

The Great Gospel – an introduction to Matthew’s gospel, helpful to anyone reading it for the first time.

Listen to the Gospels – explaining why the four gospels are so different and why it is important to understand the differences.

A Reading of John – a new translation of the gospel with each chapter followed by explanations on why the text was written.

The Journey of Prayer – a short booklet to help those who have never prayed or whose prayer life is experiencing difficulties.

‘They will all be available at CRE and I look forward to meeting people there,’ said the man whose burning vision is simply to help those who struggle with reading the Bible.

• Making Sense of the Gospels is stand FC9 at CRE 2017

Photo: iStock/amenic181

Dave HallByDave Hall

RE in schools: no excuse to break the law

There is no excuse for not following the law and teaching RE in schools.

So says Julia Diamond-Conway of CRE 2017 exhibitor RE Today after news that one in four secondary schools in England do not offer RE on the syllabus. This startling information was obtained by the National Association for RE teachers (NATRE) using the Freedom of Information Act.

‘In collaboration with NATRE, we produce many high-quality resources to inspire and inform children – for their lives both now and in the future,’ said Julia. ‘There is just no excuse for not following the law and teaching a subject so relevant in today’s society.’

Following 14 years as a teacher in London, specialising in RE, Julia became a National RE Adviser.

‘Many people think RE is about issues from centuries ago and no longer relevant,’ she said. ‘But our material talks of modern times and uses modern techniques to involve children fully in the learning process.’

Julia will join Mark Markiewicz, of first-time CRE exhibitor Museum of the Bible, for a seminar at CRE 2017 introducing the Augmented Reality Bible Curriculum. They will explain how RE Today is helping to turn these impressive new resources from the USA into a form suitable for use by UK schools and churches (3pm, Tue 17 Oct, Room 2).

Visitors will be able to visit the Museum of the Bible and RE Today stands to try out the new Bible Curriculum technology and find out about RE Today’s ‘Understanding Christianity’ materials, which offer fresh ways to help children understand the key concepts of Christianity.

RE Today, International Bible Reading Association and Understanding Christianity are on stand S31 at CRE 2017. Museum of the Bible is on stand S30

Dave HallByDave Hall

Dana: Hope and joy for challenging times

These may be challenging times, but for believers they are also filled with hope and joy.

That will be Dana’s message when she opens CRE 2017 on Tue 17 Oct (10am).

‘I am happy and honoured to cut the ribbon on this wonderful exhibition,’ said Dana, Ireland’s first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. ‘I’m really looking forward to being with everyone at Sandown Park but then I always enjoy being with hopeful, joyful people.’

As an 18-year-old schoolgirl in 1970 she was the last of 12 performers to sing before an estimated viewing audience of 200 million. Her ‘All Kinds of Everything’ pushed the UK’s entry, sung by Mary Hopkin, into second place.

‘It is a special pleasure to welcome Dana back to CRE,’ said the exhibition’s new owner, Steve Goddard. ‘And I’m especially delighted she will be with us for all three days when she will sing, be interviewed about her distinguished career in music and politics and take part in Worship Alive!’

Dana last opened the exhibition in 1993.

‘It has been some years since I last attended CRE and it is wonderful to see that with Steve and his wife, Allison, it continues to inspire and inform the Christian family,’ she said.

Nominated to run in the 1997 Irish Presidential election, the first non-political candidate ever to do so, she campaigned to protect Christian family values, and while not winning, took 14 per cent of the votes, ahead of one of Ireland’s major political parties. She was subsequently elected as an MEP, representing Ireland’s Connacht-Ulster constituency for five years until 2004.

Dave HallByDave Hall

Goodbye paper, hello digital, say thousands of worship leaders

Thousands of musicians are saying goodbye to paper, thanks to CRE exhibitor Cambron Software.

‘We have converted thousands of musicians from dead tree to digital technology,’ said Cambron’s Gordon Cameron. ‘Ukulele players, guitarists, organists – and everyone in between. In fact, it’s exactly a decade since we launched our first version of Power Music, at CRE.’

Power Music is the ultimate digital music management and display system – for Windows, Mac and iPad. From page-turning foot pedals to complete digital music stand solutions, Cambron have it all.

‘Come to stand S84 and we’ll tell you about the big advantages of dropping paper and going digital,’ said Gordon. ‘If you are already a digital music user, you can discover the latest hands-free page turners, iPad and tablet mounts, along with our new MusicOne scanner. We’ll give you free advice on software, hardware and legal sources of digital music – and answer any questions you have about digital music display.’

Cambron Software are on stand S84 at CRE 2017

Photo: iStock/GNK82

Dave HallByDave Hall

Sip ahoy! Coffee that brings a blessing to seafarers worldwide

A sip of coffee at CRE will remind us that more than 90 per cent of everything we own comes to us over the waves.

BySea is a new exhibitor offering a brand from which every penny in profits goes to help seafarers and their families in more than 27 countries.

An initiative of the Sailors’ Society, BySea’s eye-grabbing Land Rover coffee bar will be in the paddock at Sandown Park where you can sample one of their five blends – African, Americas, Asia Pacific, Brazilian, Indian and decaffeinated.

The Land Rover can be hired for corporate events and private parties, providing exquisite coffee on demand. Or you can simply buy the coffee – in pod format for machines or ground.

‘Seafarers are typically away from their homes from nine to 12 months at a time, facing violent storms, loneliness and isolation, even piracy and terrorism,’ explained Stuart Rivers, chief executive officer for the Sailors’ Society, an international maritime charity. ‘BySea reminds us of the journey our coffee has made before it reaches our cups. It tastes good, too!’

BySea are on stand S136 at CRE 2017 and their Land Rover will be in the paddock.