CRE in Manchester this week

The Christian Resources Exhibition is coming back to Manchester this week. On Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th March you’ll find all that every church needs at Event City, near the Trafford Centre.

CRE North in Manchester 2019 includes a sold-out exhibition floor of 150 organisations including the Compassion Experience, CRE’s first-ever Study Zone featuring eight theological colleges, Dana in concert and several up-and-coming artists; Youth and Children’s Trail; Cindy’s Sofa; Brexit: Bridging the Divide with Andy Flannagan of Christians In Politics; Walk Through the Bible: every hour on the hour, and more than 30 seminars and presentations covering everything from cyber security to safeguarding.

Event City, Manchester

Faith in Manchester was there when CRE was launched by the Bishop of Manchester. The launch was held at Spotland, the home of Rochdale Football Club.

The launch last year was opened by Bishop David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, pictured above with Stephen Goddard, the owner of Christian Resources Exhibitions, who bought the company from Bible Society when it looked like it would close. Other speakers on the day included Gospatric Hume, the founder of CRE and Chris Dunphy, the Chairman of Rochdale Football Club, a supporter and exhibitor at Christian Resources Exhibition over many years.

The Christian Resources Exhibition is the biggest show of its kind, featuring every resource that any church could need, from the roof to the hymn book, with resources for mission, music and much more. It has been called the “ideal church show”.

Faith in Manchester spoke exclusively to Stephen Goddard about bringing CRE back to Manchester for the first time since 2014 and the first time under his ownership.

Listen to the interview by pressing the play button below.

Prayers for Manchester on the first anniversary of the Arena attack

Manchester city centre will come to standstill on Tuesday for the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack last year. The attack claimed the lives of 22 people and left those of many others changed forever.

The National Service of Commemoration at Manchester Cathedral will welcome a congregation including bereaved families, first responders, city leaders and senior national figures at 3pm. Limited space in the Cathedral means that the service will be by invitation only, but others are invited to watch the service on a big screen in Cathedral Gardens.
And in recognition of the fact that many of the victims came from across the North of Britain, the service is also being screened at York Minster, Glasgow Cathedral and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Many in these cities and across the world will be joining Manchester in solidary and prayer.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The attack at Manchester Arena last year was an attack on our common humanity. The solidarity, love and support shown across the country and beyond helped us through an incredibly difficult period and demonstrated a collective refusal to give in to hatred and fear”.

Later in the day, from 7.30 to 9.00pm, Albert Square is the venue for Manchester Together – With One Voice, where choirs will come together in song to remember all those affected by the  attack, culminating in a communal singalong from 8.30pm to 9pm with everyone encouraged to join in. The singalong will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester.

Later, from dusk the focus will move to St Ann’s Square for Manchester Together – There is a Light. Each day from Tuesday to Saturday, the words of songs chosen by the public will be projected onto the pavements and buildings in St Ann’s Square.

Churches across the city centre will play their part in the memorial at 10.31pm, exactly one year from the moment the attack took place. Bells will ring out from church towers in an act of solidarity and remembering.

 

Christians and others are called to pray for Manchester on this anniversary. At Faith in Manchester, we call on people of faith in this city to pray for our city and our region:

for comfort and support for those who are affected by the events of one year ago, either directly or indirectly: Lord Jesus, bring your peace.

for strength for our city to continue to recover with fortitude and resilience: Lord Jesus, bring your healing.

for restoration of relationships between troubled communities, broken neighbourhoods and fractured families: Lord Jesus, bring your reconciliation.

for the favour of God to reign over our city and our region this day and in the days to come: Lord Jesus, bring your love that never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

Rend Collective at Manchester Academy, 13th May 2018

Good News was proclaimed in words and music in the Manchester Academy to a wildly enthusiastic crowd of over a thousand worshippers, as Rend Collective came back to the city as part of their latest tour, following the release of their chart-topping album, “Good News”.

 

Trinity Worship Project in Manchester
Trinity Worship Project in Manchester

First on stage was “Trinity Worship Project”, a collective of musos from the Worship Arts programme at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada where Rend Collective have been working recently. The band, led by Mitchell Janzen and Kaleb Janzen on guitars and vocals, opened with the hymn All Creatures of our God and King and followed with some bright original songs. They were received with generous appreciation by the crowds.

 

Guvna B in Manchester
Guvna B in Manchester

The next artist thanked his audience for “putting up with some rap when they’d come for a folk band”. But this was not Shaggy at the Queen’s birthday party. This was Guvna B, and not a person in the hall was merely putting up with him. Guvna B, sharing the vast stage with just a drummer, owned the whole space with his boundless energy and humour. Even those who didn’t know his music were drawn in by his personality. What was also clear was his Christian faith – proudly proclaimed as a force for goodness and justice. If ever an artist left an audience wanting more it was Guvna B’s all too brief appearance.

 

Then came the group that even their leader Gareth Gilkeson calls “the Christian version of Mumford and Sons”. “Though at least we’re really Irish”, he adds, wryly. These days Rend Collective are folk-rock and more rock than folk. Once they would be swapping a dozen instruments between them in every song, now they are more likely to stick to guitars, bass, piano and drum kit – though we did see the odd appearance of the fiddle, the mandolin, the uke, and even the hurdy-gurdy.

 

Rend Collective in Manchester
Rend Collective in Manchester

Seven of the songs in their ninety-minute set were from the latest album, and presented in a way very familiar to those who knew the recording. Some oldies were there as well. “Build Your Kingdom Here” was included early on, and “My Lighthouse” predictably appeared in the encore.

Tracks from the new album came thick and fast: “Life is Beautiful”, “I will be Undignified”, “Marching On”. The crowd loved the confident proclamation of “Resurrection Day” and the more plaintiff “Counting Every Blessing”. For me the strongest new song is “Rescuer” with its strong clear lyrics, proclaiming God’s saving power and its nu-folk arrangement, complete with shouted “heys”.

A Rend gig is more than a show – it’s an encounter with God and with his people. The message from the stage is that there are no superstars in the kingdom of God, only worshippers. We were here to offer ourselves in praise to our Creator, not to a bunch of musicians, and praise we did. We also got a sermon as Gareth Gilkeson put down his drumsticks to preach a word of hope based around the message of the tour: bringing good news.

Rend Collective bring Good News in their exuberant music, in the joy of God they show through all they do and in their message of hope. They are a gift to the Church. Their visit to Manchester was an encouragement to those who were there. Their message, though, was that the Good News was to be transformative – not just for one gig but for changing the world.

words and pictures copyright Wayne Clarke @wayneaclarke for Faith in Manchester

Cathedral to host Manchester Arena attack memorial service, one year on.

Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral will be the venue for a civic service on Tuesday 22 May, to remember the day 22 people lost their lives in the Manchester Arena attack.

An invited congregation including the families of those who died, people who were injured, first responders, civic leaders and national figures will gather in the Cathedral for an hour-long service from 2pm.

Outside, in Cathedral Gardens, the service will be shown on a big screen, and will be watched simultaneously by crowds at York Minster, Glasgow Cathedral and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral..

In Manchester Together – With One Voice, choirs will join together in song to remember those affected by the Arena attack. Choirs and groups of singers from the region are invited to perform at the event and can register their interest at the Manchester Together site. The event will conclude with communal singing which will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester.

From 22 May to 26 May, words of songs will be projected onto St Ann’s Church and other parts of St Ann’s Square as part of an artwork called “There Is A Light”. The city council is inviting people to suggest song lyrics which have a personal resonance for them to include in the projection.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester city council leader said: “Music is in Manchester’s soul and it is only fitting that it should play a central part in marking what will be an emotional anniversary. We saw in the aftermath of the 22 May attack how spontaneous song captured the city’s spirit, its solidarity and refusal to give in to hatred.”

Christian communities across the Manchester region are being asked to pray for the city on May 22nd. Many churches will be including special times of prayer on Tuesday 22nd and on the Sunday before. They will be praying for continued healing of bodies and minds for those who were affected by the attack in any way, and comfort for those who will be feeling the grief of bereveament most acutely on this first anniversary.

Homeless Jesus sculpture unveiled in Manchester

Homeless Jesus statue in Manchester

A new sculpture in Manchester is making people in our city centre think about Jesus Christ in a new way. The sculpture is not of Jesus as a baby or Jesus on a cross, or even Christ in glory. This time Jesus is depicted as a homeless man lying on a bench.

The work “Jesus the Homeless” is by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, and is one of a series of casts in cities around the world including Washington DC, Dublin, Glasgow and Singapore. This one was rejected by planners in Westminster but granted planning permission by Manchester City Council. It has been installed outside St Ann’s Church on St Ann Street in the central retail district.

The statue was unveiled in April 23rd 2018 by two homeless men called Dave and Ian and blessed by the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker, who said, “Jesus is very explicit in the Bible – when we offer or refuse care to those in need, we will be judged as though he himself were the needy person before us.”

St Ann’s Church raised the money to place the statue in front of its church building. The church is active in helping homeless people in the city, including a new project called ‘Morning Hours’, in which hot drinks and toast are provided to rough sleepers before day centres open.

Rector of St Ann’s Church, the Revd Nigel Ashworth, said the artwork would ‘challenge passers-by to question their attitude towards homeless and marginalised people that they come across in their day-to-day lives’.

Philippa Hanna and support, Night & Day Manchester, 4th April 2018

Philippa Hanna came to Manchester riding high on the success of her most recent alt-country album, Come Back Fighting. Best known within Contemporary Christian music, Philippa Hanna is making a name for herself in various places and platforms. She’s been getting radio time from the likes of Bob Harris and turning heads in Nashville. Her recent music has been likened to The Shires, spanning pop and country, both feisty and soul-baring.

Becky Higg

On a cold Wednesday night, The Night & Day Cafe, the stylish Northern Quarter venue was comfortably full of people aged 18 to granny. The evening started with local singer Becky Higg, who brought some plaintive acoustic numbers. Her highlight was, “Hold me Tight”, a reflection on finding hope in depression.

 

Lily-Jo

Second on was another Manchester performer, Lily-Jo, who sings pop with a fighting edge. Lily Jo is bold and magnetic, oozing confidence. She struck this reviewer as sounding like Philippa Hanna as she was ten years ago.

Lily-Jo sang “Beautiful Scars” and told us about her Lily-Jo Project, which supports people with mental health issues. She gave us her finest song, “Good Enough” and finished with “Unstoppable”, a song released with Philippa Hanna, which to my taste was a bit too preachy. But Lily-Jo is one to watch.

Philippa Hanna

Then came the main act, Philippa Hanna, with her “A Team” band – her husband Joel Cana on drums, his brother Josh on bass and keys and the brilliant Roo Walker on lead.

Most of Philippa’s 80 minutes comprised nine of the ten tracks from the Come Back Fighting album, but with less of a Nashville sound than the commercial release. The set started off with the title track and the standout “Off the Wagon”.

Most songs were introduced with the stories behind them, and nearly all of these were personal – her struggles, her fears and her passions. Between the songs there were a lot of stories of anxiety and depression and cancer. One song, Million Flowers, was written for the death of child. These were songs from the heart.

But there was also joy, and the joy was mainly in the music itself, which affirmed love and the power of survival, and a faith in Jesus Christ which carries hope in every note. The music is of the highest quality. Here is a singer reaching new heights, confident in her skin, skilled and talented and bold and powerful.

For one song, “Do the Unthinkable” Philippa even put down her guitar, which does seem to be her comfort-blanket at times, and sang without its support. Also included in this set was her recent cover of the Ed Sheeran smash “Perfect” with lyrics adapted to make them refer to the love of Jesus. This is slightly cheesy of course, but very well pulled-off and has had remarkable success on social media.

Overall, Manchester was treated to three female singers of the highest calibre, all singing of a Christian faith that gives strength to life. The whole evening rang with faith that empowers women, and all people. Such gigs bring hope and fortitude to the soul as well as a rocking good night out.

Philippa Hanna’s Set List

(all songs from the album Come Back Fighting 2017 unless indicated)

  • Come Back Fighting
  • Off the Wagon
  • The Speed of Light  The Speed of Light 2016
  • Dorothy
  • Let ‘em Fly
  • Getting on with Life
  • Hollywood  Through the Woods 2013
  • Raggedy Doll  Out of the Blue 2011
  • Million Flowers
  • Perfect  Ed Sheeran cover
  • Do the Unthinkable
  • The Hero
  • I am amazing  Out of the Blue 2011
  • Lighthouse  Through the Woods 2013

Encore:

  • I saw the light
  • Arrow  The Speed of Light 2016

 

words and pictures copyright Wayne Clarke @wayneaclarke for Faith in Manchester