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Dave HallByDave Hall

Buy a hamper, give one free: New food bank project launched at CRE Midlands

Buy a retail hamper from your church for £30 – and a meal hamper, comprising 15 fully-balanced meals, will be donated free to local families facing food insecurity. 

That’s the creative thinking behind Farming Food Bank, a radical new initiative launched at CRE Midlands by The Giving Stream Limited. 

‘We have the farm, butchers, chefs, equipment and expertise to produce food,’ explained Giving Stream’s Colin Kaye. ‘Churches have congregations and a local feeding programme or plans to launch one. This project links us all together – working as one.’

So how does it function?

Giving Stream install a walk-in freezer on church premises at the company’s cost, stocking it with two different products – a retail hamper, which can be bought and a free food hamper, used for donations only. Members of the church are encouraged to purchase retail hampers from the freezer at the end of services and mid-week meetings.

‘The retail hampers, if sold through a major retailer at a lesser quality, for example, containing preservatives, would retail at around £40,’ said Colin. ‘We retail the hampers at £30.’

Every time a retail hamper is sold a free meal hamper is donated to the church. The church can then use the free meal hampers to feed people who are hungry within the area it serves.

‘We have full control of stock levels and provide a card reader for ease of purchasing,’ said Colin. ‘We monitor sales and stock levels through the Food Parcel Automated System (FPAS) and replenish both the retail hamper and free meal hamper – doing it all in the name of Jesus.’

The retail hamper, for example, consists of meat products, steak burgers, sausages, meatballs and seasoned joints of meat. The hampers are complete and sealed, so no order making is required – ‘you just pick up the box, scan the card reader and go!’ The produce has been farmed to the highest welfare standard. Livestock is free-range, fed a natural diet, no routine antibiotics have been administered and full ingredient traceability is available with one simple scan.

The free hamper contains enough for 15 fully-balanced meals. As well as high-quality meat products straight off the farm, the hamper also contains vegetables and potatoes, enabling the person in need who receives the hamper to put full balanced meals on the table. It is also produced to the same high standard as the retail hamper, producing a high-quality gift. 

A video explaining the Farming Food Bank can be seen here.

‘We passionately believe that it is possible to do good and make money at the same time and if this was a common structure, the world would look a lot different to the way it does today,’ said Colin.

• Giving Stream Limited are on stand P61 at CRE Midlands 2020

Photo: The free hamper (pictured) contains enough for 15 fully-balanced meals

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Worship: How to take it from the heart to the street

You are invited to journey with Chris Bowater and friends at CRE Midlands – as they take worship ‘from inside to outside’, from the heart to the streets.

Three stirring sessions from 11am (Thu 5 Mar) will feature Chris Bowater and special guests Lou Fellingham, Sandra Godley and Roger Jones.

‘Together we will explore the “inside” story of our journey in worship that has resulted in an “outside” commitment – to mission and a calling to influence society,’ explained Chris, a father of the modern worship movement.

The day will culminate at 3pm with an inspirational session of sung worship, led by the team.

‘Be part of it all before you rush into the traffic – and all that awaits at home!’ said Chris.

The Worship Thursday team

Chris Bowater is a long-established composer and a widely-acknowledged father of the modern worship movement.

Lou Fellingham is a songwriter and worship leader, and an ever-present in the music industry for the past 20 years. She has recorded five albums and is known for her prophetic edge and distinctive voice.

Sandra Godley With MOBO nominations and multiple awards to her name, Sandra has made her mark over the last decade by climbing the music charts and lending her gifts to encourage and help others, including the Gosp-Ability choir who will sing at the opening of the exhibition.  

Roger Jones is an internationally-recognised composer, teacher, leader of CMM (Christian Music Ministries) and receiver of 2019 Thomas Cranmer award from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

• Worship Thursday takes place in the Inflatable Theatre from 11am at CRE Midlands

For a full schedule of events at the exhibition click here

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Meet the ‘Lions’ who can make your idea a roaring success

If you’ve ever dreamed of pioneering a church, starting a business or launching a new social enterprise, one CRE Midlands exhibitor may offer you the help you will need.

Drawn from every sphere of influence including church, commerce and community, the Lions are Christian men and women impacting society who are ready to pass on their expertise to others. They connect Christian pioneers and entrepreneurs with passionate people who help lay firm foundations for the challenges of entrepreneurship.

‘We are searching for 16 dedicated delegates to join us for six weekends at The Belfry Hotel in Birmingham,’ said one Lion, Chris Spicer (pictured). ‘Besides being an opportunity to connect with like-minded people over coffee and around a meal table, each delegate will experience an interactive learning environment that is more living room than classroom in style.

‘For those who dare to apply, joining the Lions could help you turn a good idea into a powerful reality – and help change the world as we know it.’

Chris will speak at CRE Midlands on Embracing Entrepreneurial Thinking (3pm, Thu 5 Mar).

‘Among a number of issues, I’ll be discussing the relationship between the church and entrepreneurs,’ he said, ‘and how to identify the difference between a “God idea” and a “good idea.”’

• The Lions are on stand P14a at CRE Midlands 2020

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Meet the lady who loves socking it to us

Margaret Wyllie has been socking it to us for 20 years and intends to go on blessing thousands of feet worldwide – including those of actress Sally Phillips (right) who opened CRE National 2018. 

The idea for Holy Socks came to Margaret ‘in a wee place called Skelmorlie’ but it was several years before this determined lady, from Newton Stewart in Dumfries and Galloway, finally found a manufacturer. 

‘Our first six designs were, aptly, made by a company called Angell Hosiery Ltd!’ she recalled. Jonah in the Whale, Daniel with the Lions and the Loaves and Fishes are still among the most popular products. Their ‘Not a pair of socks’ range is appreciated by customers with a sense of humour. Pharaoh’s Cows, with seven ‘well favoured’ on one sock and seven ‘ill favoured’ on the other, was the first – ‘Sheep and Goats following on, naturally!’  

‘We like to have a range of serious, funny and “in the middle” subjects but always with a story, poem or meditation which carries the good news of Jesus,’ said Margaret. ‘Then there’s the Good News Sock which we’re bringing to CRE Midlands.’ 

The company first exhibited at CRE in Edinburgh and the event has played a big part in Holy Socks’ first two decades.

‘It’s always enjoyable to meet people and hear why they are buying our products – and who for!’ said Margaret.  

Her footwear has been sported in Mongolia, Brazil, on the top of Kilimanjaro and by cyclists in Iona and the Arctic Circle. ‘Our kilt socks have even been to Russia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Canada and India,’ said Margaret. ‘But then, getting around is natural for socks, isn’t it?’

• Holy Socks are on stand E16 at CRE Midlands 2020

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Full-on week for the Fullers

Next week will be a full one for the Fullers.

On Monday (2 Mar) Paul Fuller, owner of Fullers Finer Furniture, and son Oliver will be presented with the prestigious Furniture Makers’ Company, Master Certificate in Furniture Making – an award sponsored by City and Guilds and City of London. Oliver will be presented with the Apprentice Certificate in Furniture Making.

Each application is assessed by a panel of representatives from the Furniture Makers’ Company and the applicant must provide evidence of achieving an appropriate level of responsibility within the industry and having a technical knowledge in the relevant sector. 

The presentations will be made by the Lord Mayor, Alderman William Russell.

Based in Weston-super-Mare, Fullers Finer Furniture was established in 1985. From humble beginnings the company is now recognised as a major supplier of quality furniture to churches and other places of worship. 

From bespoke items to their award-winning, gas height-adjustable Canterbury and York lecterns, and from restoration work to a complete refit, their dedicated team provides a personal, comprehensive service.

‘The recognition of our individual skills and experience means a great deal to us,’ said Paul. ‘The fact that we will both be presented with our respective certificates at the same ceremony will make it a truly memorable day. I feel proud to have two generations of award-winning furniture makers in what is a family business and look forward to what the future brings.’

• Fullers Finer Furniture are on stand D16 at CRE Midlands 2020

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Sharing faith: Tim helps us go timid-free

For almost nine out of 10 of us who lack confidence in sharing our personal Christian testimony, help is at hand.

The new Living & Telling course from CRE Midlands exhibitor Agapé UK is a series of 10 free videos created to help Christians communicate their faith – naturally, helpfully and as a way of life.

Agapé UK’s Tim Moyler and Dave Pegg of the PACE Trust were challenged by research from the Evangelical Alliance suggesting 87 percent of UK Christians lack confidence in sharing their spiritual journey with others.

‘Over the past few years we have developed the course in Exeter and it seems to transform the lives of those who attend,’ said Tim. ‘Leaders of churches and organisations across the country began asking us if they could run the course, too, but it was all on bits of paper, video clips and in our heads!’

Time and Dave realised that Living & Telling had to become a series of highly-interactive videos.

‘As the project got underway many brilliant communicators such as Phil Knox, Matt Summerfield and Grace Wheeler offered to join the team and present a session,’ recalled Tim. Living & Telling was launched at CRE National 2019 and Tim reports having more than 250 helpful conversations with church leaders about the course at Sandown Park.

‘Many have been in touch to say they are already running the course with house groups,’ said Tim. Agapé UK will profile Living & Telling at a seminar at CRE Midlands (3pm, Wed 5 Mar) and guide visitors through their brand-new website.

‘The videos are easy to run and can be downloaded free of charge,’ said Tim. ‘A beautifully-produced, low-cost workbook has been produced for each group member. Come to the seminar and we will give this to you, free of charge.’

• Agapé UK are on stand B13 at CRE Midlands 2020

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Is your church building underinsured?

As many as 80 percent of non-household buildings in the UK are underinsured – many of them churches, according to CRE Midlands exhibitor Access Insurance

‘Some people believe that, because the building will never be totally destroyed, it is not worth insuring for the full amount,’ said James Hill of Access. ‘They assume they only need recompense for the damage done but that is rarely the case. Many insurance policies have an “average” clause, designed to ensure the buildings are insured for their full value. Such a policy means that if you insure only 50 percent of the value of the building you will only receive 50 percent of any claim, regardless of its size.’

Access will introduce church leaders to their online valuation service at CRE Midlands – a safe haven for many churches and charities anxious not to face potential damage without proper cover.

‘We also find the insurance value of many church properties remains unchanged for years –with the value of the building rising considerably above the insurance figure,’ said James. ‘This would prove disastrous in the case of severe damage. If you think you may face problems like these come and talk to us.’

• Access Insurance are on stand F15 at CRE Midlands 2020

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Dave HallByDave Hall

The new you will be wearing bamboo

Clerics sporting clothes made of biodegradable bamboo could soon be de rigueur – if one CRE Midlands exhibitor’s ideas catch on.

Lottie Sparey, 34, is founder of Lottie’s Eco, a husband and wife team from Worcestershire who make clergywear from organic bamboo.

‘It is Lottie’s first CRE and we are excited to welcome her unique collection to the exhibition and specifically our presentation on the first day – Clergy on the Catwalk,’ said event director Brett Pitchfork. Lottie began the company after working in South Africa for Playtex and Wonderbra.

‘I have a passion for creating something that is beautiful and comfortable. True comfort lies in that ahhh… feeling when you put something on after a hard day,’ she said. ‘I was studying contour fashion at De Montfort University in Leicester and became interested in creating next level clothing that would look great and also protect the planet.’

She first discovered the qualities of bamboo in South Africa.

‘It is an amazing product, replenishing itself once cut within a year,’ she said. ‘A prolific grower, it needs no fertiliser or chemicals and very little water. It is 100 per cent biodegradable, absorbs more carbon dioxide from the air than cotton or timber and releases more oxygen into the environment. Unlike polyester and nylon synthetic fabrics bamboo breathes and has a unique softness which makes for great wearing.’

Clergy on the Catwalk at CRE Midlands (11am, Wed 4 Mar, Inflatable Theatre) will also feature a wide variety of formal and informal ecclesiastical clothing from leading designers like Hayes and Finch, Collared clergywear and designer Rev Naomi Nixon, new CEO of the Student Christian Movement. In her spare time, Naomi makes clerical tops and dresses to sell in Coventry’s St Clare’s at the Cathedral.

• Lottie’s Eco are on stand D13 at CRE Midlands

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Pixel perfect: Vote for your favourite church photograph

All nine photographs are superb – and visitors to CRE Midlands will be invited to choose their favourite.

Run by Ecclesiastical insurance, Parish Pixels is a national competition celebrating UK churches through photography. Judges have already selected nine regional winners but visitors to the Ecclesiastical stand at CRE Midlands can vote for the one they think should be the overall winner.

‘There are so many unique and fascinating items, stories and people in our churches and we are highlighting these,’ said Michael Angell, church operations director at Ecclesiastical. ‘The response to the competition has been fantastic and we received some incredible images that show why our churches are so special.’

Representatives from the regional winning churches, all receiving £1500, will be invited to attend a celebratory lunch in October 2020, where the overall winner will be announced. The winning church will receive £5,000.

‘We welcome CRE Midlands visitors to vote for their favourite photo at our stand,’ said Michael. ‘Our church insurance consultants will also be available to discuss any insurance requirements – including your church, home or vicarage – and financial planning for retirement.’

• Ecclesiastical insurance are on stand E32 at CRE Midlands

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Dave HallByDave Hall

Released prisoners: Government turns to Pastor Pete

Of 66,000 people released from prison each year, some 36,000 will go back behind bars – but now one CRE exhibitor has been approached by the government to help tackle the problem.

A Ministry of Justice pilot project is being run in four areas of the UK to try and reduce the re-offending rate by 10 per cent – and Green Pastures, a charity based in Southport, are a strategic part of the initiative.

‘It is wonderful to know that, at last, the government has approached the Church to help address a problem they have had for the past 40 years,’ said Pastor Pete Cunningham, founder of the organisation.

In 1999, Pastor Pete his son Andrew and Vicki Woodley, already housing the homeless in their church building, put their hands in their pockets and purchased two flats in Southport to give homeless people somewhere to live. The first recipients were a single mum and her child. Two decades later, there are now 400 people housed by the charity at any one time and thousands more have benefitted over the years.

In 2003, a chaplain from North Staffordshire found out about the work and asked Green Pastures to buy a property in Stoke-on-Trent – so his team could take ex-offenders from the prison gate to house and care for them.

‘Taking a step of faith, we bought a property for someone else,’ recalled Pete. ‘The results were amazing! As we provided more housing, the re-offending rate reduced. Now we partner with 80 other churches across the UK and house more than 1080 people. Many of our partners look after ex-offenders and a good percentage stay out of prison and become good citizens.

‘The model is simple. Any church or charity with a heart to house the homeless are welcome to talk to us at CRE Midlands and we will guide you through the process. Many people we house go on to have faith in Jesus Christ. This is our modus operandi – saving souls. Our properties and staff work to that end.

‘For those who cannot work with homeless people direct, it is possible to invest in the work with a good return – and you can be certain your funds are working ethically.’

• Green Pastures are on stand P65 at CRE Midlands

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