CRE News

Dave HallByDave Hall

Silver Servers launched to bridge generation gap

As elderly people get more confident with computers, an 83-year-old will launch Silver Servers at CRE 2017 – encouraging grandparents to join their grandchildren in online Bible study.

Bert Gray launched the first Postal Bible School in 1958 with his wife, Wendy, when they were missionaries in Ireland. That vision caught on and they established Bible Educational Services to provide lessons and resources for others to run independent Postal Bible Schools.

‘We adapted a course used abroad and created a product which has proved very successful,’ said Bert. There are now 17 schools in Ireland and the UK with thousands of children getting lessons each month.

BES UK was established 16 years ago when the couple moved to Cardiff. It now has partner organisations in more than 60 countries working in about 40 languages with up to three million children involved.

The couple’s latest venture is a play on ‘silver surfers’, used to describe older Internet users. It will enable grandparents to teach their families and other children using a simple lesson programme.

‘With something like 15 million people in the UK aged over 50 regularly using the Internet and 95 per cent of UK children no longer attending a Sunday school, the new website provides an ideal platform for the two age groups to learn Bible truths together,’ said Bert. ‘Silver servers will be particularly useful for children to do a regular or occasional lesson encouraged by parents or grandparents.’

The website will be overseen by the couple’s grandson, Steve McDonald, who operates a website design company and has been designing lessons and administering the BES website for some years.

‘All are welcome to our two stands at CRE 2017, to catch the vision,’ added Bert.

• The couple would be delighted for volunteers to help them on the stands at Sandown Park. Contact Bert here.


Worship resource that’s easy for Sunday morning

The best single source of words and music for Sunday worship – that’s how CCLI sum up their popular SongSelect website.

‘We’ve made many improvements in response to customer feedback, with existing users providing very positive comments,’ said CCLI’s Rich Burrough. ‘The new site eschews Flash in favour of the latest HTML5 player, making it fully responsive for mobile devices. HTML5 is compatible with all the latest browsers including Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Firefox.’

SongSelect features official song resources for more than 100,000 worship songs and hymns. A subscription site, available to any church which holds a Church Copyright Licence (CCL) for the projection/reproduction of song words, SongSelect packages start from £32 a year. The site now includes thousands of multi-part vocal sheets, in addition to lyrics and chord sheets. All SongSelect subscriptions are church-based and allow unlimited access for as many people as required within the church’s music and projection/ multimedia teams.

In addition, SongSelect seamlessly integrates with a number of leading song planning and projection software packages, including OnSong, MediaShout and ProPresenter.

‘This makes song planning and delivery much easier, whether you’re preparing in advance or responding in the moment,’ added Rich. ‘Come to CRE and see it all for yourself. If you decide it’s for you, you can simply arrange a subscription and link your account to your church.’

CCLI are on Stand S8 at CRE 2017

SongSelect will one of several resources presented and discussed at Worship Alive! – a conference at CRE 2017 offering practical seminars and technical instruction for anyone leading worship in their local church (Wed 18 Oct from 2pm)


Join 100 other leaders on a free tour of the Holy Land

Visit CRE 2017 and join a free, seven-day tour of the Holy Land!

That’s the offer for up to 100 visitors to CRE 2017.

‘We invite any minister, pastor or priest who heads up a congregation to come to our stand and provide us with their contact details,’ said Harold Darefsky of United European Airlines Tours. ‘This isn’t a competition! We will then simply invite 100 to join one of our scheduled Holy Land pilgrimages, with the condition that, if they are satisfied with the tour, they will return with a group.

‘All those invited will have to do is pay for their flight to Ben Gurion Tel Aviv airport in Israel. Hotel accommodation, in ensuite rooms, and all travel by modern coach in the Holy Land will be free of charge.’

Places visited will include Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Qumran, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. 

‘We have our own tour manager with all our groups,’ explained Harold. ‘We do not contract an Israel tour operator to do the work for us. We are our own tour operator with our own high standards. The exhilaration you feel when walking on those ancient paths is indescribable. Join us as we visit the holy sites and enjoy the communion of pilgrims from all the world.’

United European Airlines Tours are on Stand S95 at CRE 2017


A chapter a day: Bible reading is ‘a marathon not a sprint’

Reading the Bible should be seen as a marathon – not a sprint.

That’s the the thinking behind Sacred, a new Bible study scheme exhibited at CRE 2017, taking readers through the whole of scripture in 40 months.

‘SACRED stands for Simply A Chapter Read Each Day – and that is exactly what you do,’ explained creator Phil Moon. ‘It’s God’s word, so it’s worth taking the time to read it all. So far around 500 people have embarked on the course and found it very, very helpful – particularly those who’ve never previously read the Bible.’

Individual books are read from start to finish but the scheme moves regularly between Old and New Testaments and different genres of literature – maintaining variety and keeping the reader’s interest. Each day a page of notes offers theological insights, stories, illustrations and application ideas. The notes are published in six volumes and resources to accompany monthly home groups are available free-of-charge.

One truck driver told Phil Moon: ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart for Sacred. I have never read a book through before. Now I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover. It has changed my life.’

Sacred can be found on S59 at CRE 2017


It is a thing most wonderful: Messy Church does science at CRE

Introducing the wonder of our world to children, parents and carers is the idea behind Messy Church does Science – featured on all three days of a major conference at CRE 2017.

David Gregory, senior minister at Croxley Green Baptist Church, will show how simple experiments can help children, parents and carers enjoy science and find faith. 

At Croxley Green, ‘Dr Dave’, who will serve as Baptist Union president in 2018-19, helps lead the Messy Science Lab and has edited a new resource Messy Church Does Science. A recent Messy Science afternoon event at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory was so heavily subscribed that a morning session had to be added.

Messy Church founder and team leader, Lucy Moore said, ‘We’ve enjoyed three Messy Church Does Science Roadshows in Cheltenham, Ely Cathedral and at the Rutherford-Appleton Lab and we’ve seen at each how one excited families are by the opportunity to do hands-on science in a Messy Church setting. It’s a great way to get families together to have fun, ask questions about science and faith,, become intrigued by the world around us and by the God who made the world.’

Using hands-on activities to explore Bible stories, Messy Church is church for people who don’t do church – providing a ‘safe’ space to encounter the Christian faith. CRE exhibitor BRF, who resource, support and enable the project, will run three, two-hour conferences on the project, one on each day of CRE 2017, looking at different aspects of the Messy phenomenon.

Tue 17 Oct 11am – Starting and Sustaining a Messy Church

Ways forward with discipleship in a Messy Church context that challenge any form of church to do discipleship better – plus a chance to try out Messy Church does Science activities.

Wed 18 Oct 11am – Theology from the Mess

Being Messy, Being Church: a forum for all who are interested in the wider learning and implications of Messy Church – including ecclesiology, theology, mission and discipleship – and how this applies to the whole of church.

Thu 19 Oct 11am – The Big Messy Meet-Up

An update of the latest Messy projects, with particular reference to discipleship and vintage pilots, plus a final opportunity to try out Messy Science.

There is no extra charge for attending the Messy Church conference at CRE and no need to pre-register for it, though you are advised to arrive early to be sure of a seat.

Messy Church Does Science activity photos © The Bible Reading Fellowship on Flickr licensed under CC2.0


Cindy’s Sofa: meet some legends at lunchtime

The sultan of slide guitar and the grandfather of global mission are among the special guests on Cindy’s Sofa at CRE 2017.

‘Musician Bryn Haworth and missionary George Verwer are already legends and, with several others, we’ll spend lunchtime at CRE finding out what motivates and inspires them,’ said Rev Cindy Kent, host of Cindy’s Sofa.

Cindy, presented with an MBE for services to religious broadcasting in 2016, is ‘busier than ever’ since officially retiring. She will take up a three-day residency in Cindy’s Bar at CRE where her lunchtime guests will also include Irish singer and former MEP Dana, comedian and script-writer Paul Kerensa, author and cartoonist Simon Jenkins, pop and opera singer Jonathan Veira and author and former special envoy Terry Waite. Resident musical duo Clif and Marie will warm up proceedings each day.

‘From hymn books to hassocks, pews to puppets, I love CRE!’ she said. ‘And, by popular demand, Cindy’s Bar will be where you’ll find writers, musicians, poets, authors, evangelists – all trying to cram onto my sofa for a chat. Come and join me each day as I try, in vain, to keep full control of proceedings!’

Cindy’s Sofa takes place each day at CRE 2017 from 1pm in the original Cindy’s Bar


Terry’s return will be worth the wait

Terry Waite returns to CRE for the first time in more than 20 years, to talk about the depths of faith, hope and love that sustained him through his five-year captivity and beyond.

Twenty-five years ago last November (2016), Terry was released from captivity in Beirut. As the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy, he had been held hostage for five years; four of them in solitary confinement. During this time he was chained, beaten, frequently blindfolded and subjected to a mock execution.

A British Quaker and Anglican, Terry will be at CRE 2017 (Thu 19 Oct) to talk about and sign his book Out of the Silence (SPCK) in which he recalls the highs and lows of his life, both during that ordeal and throughout the happier times of humanitarian work that have followed.

Out of the Silence bears witness to the enduring power of forgiveness, truth and reconciliation in the face of the adverse forces still at work in the world today. Now in his seventies, Terry holds many honorary doctorates, both in the UK and overseas, and continues to work for a range of humanitarian causes, including prisoners, the homeless, hostages and their families, and overseas development.

It will be Terry’s first visit to CRE since 1995.


The Bible: all set to become cool on the curriculum

First-time exhibitors Museum of the Bible and RE Today magazine will be at CRE2017 to present the latest version of their groundbreaking Augmented Reality Bible Curriculum for schools. 

Committed to making the Bible accessible to today’s generation, Museum of the Bible will show visitors how churches of all kinds can utilise smart phones and tablets to teach the stories of both Old and New Testaments to people of all ages.

At a seminar on the first day of CRE2017 (3pm, Tue 17 Oct), Museum of the Bible’s Mark Markiewicz and Julia Diamond-Conway, RE Today’s national adviser, will outline how technology is set to revolutionise RE in schools. 

‘Visitors will also have an opportunity to see and use it for themselves,’ explains Mark, ‘and discover how it can be used in their schools and churches.’

As well as creating the most technologically-advanced museum in the world, opening in Washington DC in November 2017, Museum of the Bible has displayed artefacts and academic resources in cities around the world, including Vatican City’s Braccio di Carlo Magno and the Havana Cathedral in Havana, Cuba. Plans are already well advanced to bring a similar museum to central London.

Click here to watch a demonstration of the Augmented Reality Bible Curriculum in a US high school.

Museum of the Bible are on Stand 30 and RE Today on Stand 31 at CRE 2017.


How the mitres have fallen – but it’s not the end of colourful clergy

Mitres, stoles, capes and chasubles – the traditional clothing of Church of England clergy – may disappear from churches services after the Church of England voted last week to allow ministers to ‘wear what they want’.

It’s proved a difficult time for ecclesiastical designer Juliet Hemingray, a long-time CRE exhibitor, who has led the way in not only adding colour to vestments but, through her designs, making allusions to biblical narratives.

‘They are visual aids,’ she explains, ‘and do not form a barrier between wearer and observer. The subject matter on the stole or scarf, for example, can start helpful conversations.’

Juliet’s business began in 1979 when a close friend asked her to decorate a plain black preaching scarf with scenes that would appeal to children.

‘Orders poured in for bespoke designs reflecting the faith of customers,’ she recalls. ‘I have created 13 jobs and enabled more than 30,000 people to portray the Gospel in a way that is personal and meaningful. One friend in Tennessee told me he couldn’t remember any sermons from his early church life but recalled symbols on vestments and hangings. They meant a great deal to him.’

Juliet believes there is room for both options – vestments or more informal clothing.

‘My choice is obviously the first, purely from a Gospel-preaching standpoint,’ she says. ‘But you should make the most of whatever you are wearing and when you are not speaking, let the garment speak!’

Her view was reflected at two recent meetings in Lancashire. More than 4,000 schoolchildren gathered at Ewood Park, the home of Blackburn Rovers, for a talk given by the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North. Dramatically, he revealed an Arsenal shirt under his vestments, using the long-standing rivalry between Division One team Blackburn and Premier League Burnley FC to discuss the importance of loyalty.

Only a week before Canon Mark Jones, vicar of St Leonard’s Church in nearby Padiham, wore a Queen’s Park Rangers’ shirt – the team he supports – in front of 200 children from the local primary school. He wore it to illustrate how belonging to and supporting a child is an important part of any christening service. He ‘baptised’ a baby doll for two seven-year-old pupils.

In an area in which some members of the clergy have ignored the rulings and worn no clerical identification or the minimum for some time, the new pronouncement gives everyone the opportunity to be free and easy on some social occasions and add colour and pomp on others – without causing offence. It may even offer those ‘wearing parables’ to speak clearly to their congregation without uttering a word.

Step forward, Juliet!

David Hall

Juliet will be on Stand S129 at CRE 2017


So a comedian walks into CRE 2017

Scrooge, Santa, Slade and a snoozing Saviour are all part of a fun and forgotten history of Christmas, to be presented at CRE2017 by award-winning comedian Paul Kerensa.

A practising comedian and writer for more than 15 years, Paul admits he has been ‘practising as a Christian for a little longer.’ He’s become the BBC’s go-to guy for gagging up new sitcoms, helping writing teams win Best New Sitcom for Miranda at the British Comedy Awards and Best Sitcom for Not Going Out at the Royal Television Society Awards. More recently, he has written for Chris Evans’ Top Gear.
His new book, available at CRE in October, will be ‘a new appreciation of the complicated relationship between the Church and the festival of Christmas.’ In it he explains how Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! and The Christmas Song were both written in a sweltering summer heatwave and that King Herod had a wife called Doris. Also, according to ‘a reliable legend’, St Nicholas was the first to use an automatic door.

Introducing the book at CRE, Paul’s talk will be packed full of comic moments, visuals and even music.

‘It may only be October,’ says Paul, ‘but the shops have decided Christmas starts in September, so at least we’ll be feeling festive in a churchly way.’

He’s a regular at festivals such as Spring Harvest, New Wine and Greenbelt where he brings his trademark Powerpoint presentations full of silliness, songs and spoof gameshows such as Biblankety Biblank and Catchpharisee.
‘I’ve always loved being among fellow believers. Mine is a potentially lonely job in an industry not known for its sympathy towards people of faith,’ he says. ‘CRE is a great chance to equip us with what we need to get our jobs done and make a difference in this world. I’m always delighted to be part of it. I come away used as a resource, but also resourced myself!’
Paul Kerensa will speak at CRE2017 at 2pm on Tue 17 Oct. He will also be a special guest of Rev Cindy Kent MBE, at lunchtime in Cindy’s Bar.