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Major Messy Church conference at CRE 2017

Whether you’re a start up or a seasoned campaigner, you’ll find what you’re looking for at a special three-day Messy Church conference at CRE 2017.

This highly-successful initiative, using hands-on activities to explore Bible stories, is church for people who don’t do church – providing a ‘safe’ space to encounter the Christian faith. Messy Churches meet at times (and sometimes places) that suit people who don’t already belong to a fellowship. It’s all age. And it’s fun.

We’re delighted that 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
To include a discipleship pilot report, demos of one or two discipleship pilots and a chance to try out Messy Science

Wed 18 Oct
11am – Theology from the Mess
A ‘Being Messy, Being Church’ forum with another opportunity to try out Messy Science

Thu 19 Oct
11am – The Big Messy Meet-Up
An update of the latest Messy projects, with particular reference to discipleship and vintage pilots and a final opportunity to try out Messy Science

A full list of speakers will available soon.


Nothing beats sitting on it, wearing it, tasting it…

Offering a host of new ideas and initiatives in a fast-changing world, CRE returns to Sandown Park in the Autumn (17 to 19 October 2017).

‘While we discover products and services online, discerning customers will always want to try before they buy, meet the person behind the product, the man behind the mission,’ said event director Brett Pitchfork. ‘Put simply, nothing beats sitting on it, wearing it, listening to it, tasting it – and comparing it to other options. You can only do all of that, under one roof, at CRE.

‘We are putting together an exhibition which builds on the quality and experience of the past, yet presents fresh ideas, products and suppliers to local church leaders and members.’

Among new features at CRE 2017 are:

Museum of the Bible – an innovative, global, educational feature inviting us to engage with the history, narrative and impact of the Bible

The Compassion Experience – a unique, interactive trailer presenting the lives of two real children living in abject poverty

Messy Church – a conference for everyone connected with this highly-successful initiative, from seasoned campaigners to start ups

A keynote speaker at CRE will be George Verwer, who founded and led Operation Mobilisation for more than 40 years. ‘It’s a great time in history for the Church,’ he said, ‘and I’ll be at CRE to tell visitors what is God doing through the Church, around the world.’

Rev Cindy Kent MBE returns to host Cindy’s Sofa, her popular lunchtime chat show featuring music, drama and a range of special guests. UCB Radio will broadcast live from the show floor.

‘CRE is a place to build and develop important relationships with local church leaders and provide solutions as they reach out to their communities,’ said Andy Moreman, CEO of CPO. ‘We look forward meeting members of hundreds of churches in October.’

To receive regular news updates about CRE 2017, click here.

If you represent an organisation considering a stand at CRE, click here.


Discover a purpose-built slum… in leafy Surrey

A unique, interactive presentation of the lives of two real children living in poverty – that’s the Compassion Experience, a special walk-through feature at the next CRE (Oct 17-19, 2017, Sandown Park, Esher).

‘Thousands of visitors will experience another world without leaving theirs – the daily life of poverty faced by millions,’ said Compassion UK’s Caroline Cameron. ‘Most importantly, the presentation will offer a message of hope for children sponsored through our world-class child development programme.’

The Compassion Experience, currently being made in the USA before being shipped to the UK, will be one of the most ambitious features ever staged at CRE. After three days at Sandown, the Experience will visit churches, schools and other venues across the UK.

Photo of the Compassion Experience, coming to CRE 2017

Photo of the Compassion Experience, coming to CRE 2017

‘We have worked closely with Compassion to bring this unique presentation to Sandown Park,’ said Brett Pitchfork, CRE’s event director. ‘We hope many thousands of ordained clergy and lay leaders will see how it can be used in their own localities.’

‘CRE gives us the opportunity to meet hundreds of church leaders and inspire them with the difference they and their churches can make in the lives of children living in poverty,’ said Nick Harris, director of marketing at Compassion UK. ‘That’s why CRE was the first event we booked into our diaries when launching the Compassion Experience.’

To receive regular news updates about CRE 2017, click here.

If you represent an organisation considering a stand at CRE, click here.


From the end of the world to… Esher

Somewhere in the world today you will find George Verwer — a man with the energy of someone half his age — wearing his trademark globe jacket, speaking next to an inflated globe of the world.

One moment he will bound across the stage, making his audience laugh, then without warning, prick their consciences with the need to reach unreached people with the Christian message.

Verwer founded and led Operation Mobilisation for more than 40 years before stepping down in August 2003. He will be a keynote speaker at the next CRE (Oct 17-19 2017).

Today the organisation has two ships and more than 4,000 people working in over 80 nations.

‘It’s a great time in history for the Church,’ said Verwer, ‘and I’ll be at CRE to tell visitors what is God doing through it, around the world.’

To receive regular news updates about CRE 2017, click here.

If you represent an organisation considering a stand at CRE, click here.


CRE now taking stand enquiries

Stand enquires are now invited for CRE 2017 at Sandown Park (17-19 October).

A floorplan is available to view and exhibitors are invited to contact the sales team (see below).

There are tentative plans to take CRE back to regional cities. Since 1985 it has been held in places afar apart as Exeter and Edinburgh, Belfast and Bristol, Manchester and Harrogate.

‘CRE will continue to serve all those who care about the future of the local church and its ministry in the community and world at large,’ said CRE managing director Steve Goddard. ‘Our aim is simple: to offer inspiration and innovation for the whole congregation.’

To discuss your exhibition requirements, please contact one of the sales team.


Carol Malpass, Sales Manager
0161 250 2467

Brett Pitchfork, Event Director
0161 250 6297

Steve Goddard, Managing Director
0161 250 2701

David Ramsay, Sales Manager

Photo: Cremetti Commercial


CRE goes back to the future

Under new management that looks very familiar, CRE returns to Sandown Park this year (17 to 19 October 2017).

The largest annual exhibition of its kind in Europe, CRE is now owned by Stephen Goddard, its media consultant for more than 25 years.

‘Last May, the Bible Society decided to focus on its core mission of offering the Bible to the world and purposed to find a new home for CRE or close it down,’ said Goddard. ‘Offering a host of new ideas and initiatives in a fast-changing world, CRE is a strategic event in the ecclesiastical calendar. We have therefore pulled together a team with vast experience of running the exhibition successfully.’

CRE’s founder, Gospatric Home, is its new honorary president. Brett Pitchfork returns as event director. All the sales and administrative staff have worked at some time for one or both of CRE’s previous two owners.

‘The first thing we did was to listen to hundreds of exhibitors, the majority of whom wanted CRE to return to Sandown Park, its home for 28 years until 2014,’ said Goddard. ‘They also asked if it could run for three rather than four days. We therefore decided not to take up the dates reserved at ExCeL in May 2017 and instead return to Sandown Park (Oct 17-19, 2017).

‘We are working hard to put together an exhibition which builds on the experience of the past yet will present fresh ideas, products and suppliers to church leaders and members.’

If you would like to exhibit at CRE 2017, please go to the Choose your stand page, or contact one of the team below.


Carol Malpass, Sales Manager
0161 250 2467

Brett Pitchfork, Event Director
0161 250 6297

Steve Goddard, Managing Director
0161 250 2701

David Ramsay, Sales Manager

Photo: Georgie R


Juliet’s journey: it started with a scarf

When Juliet Hemingray was asked to make an embroidered preaching scarf for a friend, an amazing journey began that has seen her become a leading creator of church textiles.

Countless members of the cloth now wear Juliet’s ecclesiastical vestments, including three Archbishops of Canterbury – George Carey, Rowan Williams and Justin Welby. The colourful robes worn by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu at his enthronement were also made by Juliet and her talented team, in collaboration with Watts & Co.

‘Over the years we have made more than 30,000 stoles, with countless banners, altar frontals and pulpit falls now in schools, chapels, churches and cathedrals around the world,’ said Juliet, a dedicated exhibitor at CRE since its inception and the inspiration behind CRE’s popular Clergy on the Catwalk show.

CRE has enabled her to showcase her team’s skills on a much bigger stage than the usual displays she does at theological colleges and diocesan conferences.

‘I am able to meet people from all Christian denominations and meet people from schools, multi-faith chapels, prisons and hospitals,’ she explained.

At CRE in Birmingham many years ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu opened the show and was given a stole designed and stitched personally by Juliet. Cliff Richard received a special waistcoat from her at CRE in 1994 which he has sported on TV.

Photo: Cremetti Commercial


‘Messy’ Martyn: It’s time we abandoned Sunday schools

If asked to start a new church, Martyn Payne would definitely not include a Sunday school in his plans.

‘My own thinking from more than 40 years as a teacher and working with churches has been challenged,’ said Messy Church team leader Martyn. ‘Like many, I used to accept that the best way to nurture children and young people into faith was to have separate groups for their learning and fellowship. Today, I am increasingly uncomfortable with this inherited proposition.’

He points out how research into children’s spirituality and how adults become rooted in the Christian faith, reveals that both family and other significant adults really make a difference. In other words, a multigenerational approach to faith nurture is something the church needs to rediscover!

‘Of course it was there in the Bible all along,’ continued Martyn, ‘where faith was passed on at festivals as well as family gatherings and definitely not in some special Sunday school arrangement for children or youth group facility for teenagers. The young need to be alongside the old, the old the young – arguably even more so today in our fragmented communities.

‘My own grandparent generation needs to be in touch with how young people and children are thinking – to be stimulated and refreshed in faith through their questions, wonderings and sense of adventure – every much as the young need to see for themselves that God remains faithful throughout all the stages of life.’

Martyn remains excited about Messy Church, which offers a successful model for bringing the generations together on a shared journey of faith.

‘This isn’t the traditional Sunday school way of things with children,’ he says. ‘In fact, were I to be asked to start a new church, I would definitely not include a Sunday school in my plans! There is an argument for some separate age and interest groups but not for the main church gathering, where for me the default must be togetherness. It might be messy but it is certainly the best way to form healthy Christians.’

Photo: Cremetti Commercial


How building a stronger marriage is on the cards

A married couple are hoping that a card game they’ve invented will help couples draw closer and enjoy frank, open conversations.

Marie Reid invented My Truth after writing subject headings on paper, screwing them up and challenging husband Clif to share his views on the subjects in question.

‘I was amazed and surprised at some of the insights Clif shared,’ admitted Marie. ‘Even after 17 years of marriage, I really saw his heart on issues more deeply. If this “game” could bring out new insights for us I figured it could do the same for other couples.’

‘Answering the questions really made me dig deep,’ said Clif. ‘I found it a very valuable exercise. Marie and I have a strong marriage but this game made it stronger.’

The Reids piloted the game with more than 25 couples and received great feedback. Couples who purchase My Truth will get a pack of cards with a total of 80 topics for discussion.

Having established themselves as major gospel artists over the course of the last four years, the Croydon-based couple have performed at over 100 churches around the UK and released an album in 2012, If Only, now available on iTunes.


An end to meeting room mayhem

New, cloud-based software takes care of all aspects of managing church rooms.

‘There is no longer any need to use paper or multiple calendars to manage who is using which room or when,’ explained Kyle Cottington of iKnow Church. ‘Our new software saves church administrators a great deal of time every month.’

The room booking module clearly shows you who is using each room and what they require. The module:

• Prevents double booking
• Shows clearly which rooms are being used
• Allows for repeating bookings – with clash warnings
• Manages items such as projectors
• Makes provisional bookings

Save the date for CRE National 2019!
Join us at Sandown Park
15-17 October 2019