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Three-point turns: clergy ready to Stand Up for Jesus

Clergy from as far apart as Bodmin, Weston-super-Mare, Bude, Swindon and Malmesbury are heading for Westpoint, Exeter to learn professional comics' tricks of the trade ...

Clergy from as far apart as Bodmin, Weston-super-Mare, Bude, Swindon and Malmesbury are heading for Westpoint, Exeter to learn professional comics' tricks of the trade.

It's all part of Stand Up for Jesus – a special, one-day comedy workshop at the Christian Resources Exhibition South West (10/11 February), often dubbed 'the ideal church show'.

Among those taking part will be:

Rev John Monaghan, curate in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire (pictured)
"I trained as a physiotherapist, married a Anglican minister and then became one myself two years ago! There's a lot more colourful rhetoric and humour in the Bible than most give credit for, and for good reason. It's a wonderful tool in communicating any message, and as preachers and communicators of the bible, something that we should be developing as part of our craft. 

"I'm not particularly good at stand-up, but I do love trying to make people laugh, and would love to be able to learn a few tricks of the trade to help me communicate more effectively as a church leader and preacher."

Rev Julie Birkett, associate priest at St John’s Church in Weston-super-Mare and chaplain at Weston College:
"I preach regularly and write the occasional comedy sketch. Humour can break down barriers and enable truths to be expressed and understood in a fresh way. I am hoping that Stand up for Jesus will give me fresh ideas on delivery and techniques."

Rev Alison Hardy, curate in and around Bude:
"For 30 years I was a sheep farmer so I'm attempting to transfer shepherding skills from the ovine flock to the human one! I use stories to convey biblical truths and values, especially in school assemblies and family services but also in adult-only congregations. Stories are great: they can say a lot without being confrontational, and they are memorable. I'd love to improve my storytelling skills, though, by making them funnier so we can all have a few laughs along the way."

Mark Oliver, lay preacher from Lanhydrock, Bodmin:
"I am by profession a farmer but also preach most weeks in my own church or visit others. I also speak at camps for young people and after dinner events. All of the above require not only telling the truth and applying it but doing it in such a way that people listen and remember. Despite having been preaching for about 25 years there is always more to learn so I'm looking forward to Stand Up for Jesus very much."

CRE South West (February 10-11) will be opened by Rt Rev Nick McKinnel, Bishop of Crediton.

"I am glad the show is returning to Exeter and very happy to be opening an event which offers a dynamic mix of seminars, workshops, music, theatre and church resources," he said. "The last time I visited CRE I discovered a wealth of opportunities and ideas. It’s well worth a visit as you will come away feeling encouraged and with lots of resources for the coming year."

Rev Nick will soon spread the good news further west when he takes up his new post as Bishop of Plymouth.

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