A post-lockdown celebration was how thousands of visitors to the Christian Resources Exhibition viewed their visit to the event at Sandown Park, Surrey this month (Oct 10-12 2021).
Steve Goddard, owner of CRE, said: ‘People arrived with more purpose than I have ever known – to discover fresh, innovative ways to re-build their churches following the trials and tribulations of the past 18 months.’
As one visitor commented on leaving: ‘I simply cannot believe there is so much happening in the church and so many organisations offering specific help. It has been a wonderful day.’
Visitor numbers totalled 2395 across the three days, plus 605 registered exhibitor staff giving a total of 3000.
‘As expected there were lower visitor numbers because of the pandemic,’ said Steve, ‘but the excellent quality of enquirer encouraged dozens of exhibitors to re-book for next year.’
Lord George Carey launched the second instalment of his memoirs – The Truth Will Set You Free – and spoke about the family trauma when his then 51-year-old son, Mark, was arrested for allegedly abusing a girl, when he was only 12.
‘When police said they were taking no further action it was a great relief. The claim had been total nonsense,’ said Lord Carey, ‘but it left Mark out of the ministry for two years, unsupported by his diocese who then suggested he attend a safeguarding course. That was 25 years ago and we have learnt so much since.’
Lord Carey was delighted with the return of the exhibition and considered how the church might continue to come out of the pandemic. He said: ‘I want our clergy to go out and be more vibrant in their preaching and teaching. There is a long way to go but we have to give the world a greater vision of hope.’
Most seminars attracted good numbers, particularly those covering technical issues to do with live streaming. An initiative providing new resources for home groups was particularly well attended, too. The Christian Resources Together book awards, held at CRE for the first time, attracted 110 publishers, retailers and associated personnel.
Jeff Lucas flew in from the USA to lead a series of studies on the book of Daniel and its significance in the light of Covid-19 and lockdown. Roy Francis, who led an initiative looking at the Windrush legacy, said: ‘It was a wonderful opportunity to talk about the arrival of Christians from the Caribbean and Africa who changed the face of Christianity in the UK.’