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Stand up for Jesus

Clergy in the south west are being invited to learn techniques of stand-up comedy at next month's Christian Resources Exhibition ...

Clergy in the south west are being invited to learn techniques of stand-up comedy at next month's Christian Resources Exhibition (10/11 Feb, Westpoint, Exeter).

Stand Up for Jesus is a special, one-day comedy workshop (10 Feb) at the two-day event which will be opened by the Rt Revd Nick McKinnel, Bishop of Crediton.

Bentley Browning, who will lead the course, believes Jesus was a master communicator and story teller.

"Many suggest his allusion to a camel going through the eye of a needle would have been construed as a quip by those listening," said Browning, a regular performer on the stand-up comedy circuit. "The course is a lot of fun and will help anyone wishing to develop communication skills."

Rev Julie Birkett (right) is looking forward to the course which takes place on the opening day (10 Feb) of an event often dubbed the 'ideal church show'.

"I preach regularly and write the occasional comedy sketch," said Julie, who serves as associate priest at St John’s Church in Weston-super-Mare and is chaplain at Weston College. "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."

At the end of the afternoon, participants will be invited to practise live stand-up comedy on CRE's Spotlight stage.

Event manager Bill Allen, from Torquay, said: "Imagine thousands of people on a Monday morning saying: 'I heard this really good joke in church yesterday …' Helping clergy put over the Christian message creatively is just one of our many aims at Westpoint."

More than 120 stands will feature organisations displaying everything from computers to communion wine, printers to puppets, stained glass to sound systems. More than 30 seminars will provide advice on a range of subjects from dementia to social media, story telling to the Middle East. The two-day event includes music from Sandra Godley and Noel Robinson and drama from Yeovil-based Oddments Theatre Co.

"We aim to provide inspiration for leaders and 'ordinary' members of every local church," said Allen. "CRE is the biggest series of Christian exhibitions in Europe and can only come to the west country once every three years – so be sure not to miss it."

Welcoming CRE back to the south west, Bishop Nick said: "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.

"The last time I visited CRE I discovered a wealth of opportunities and ideas for Christian ministry. It’s well worth a visit as you will come away feeling encouraged and with lots of resources for the coming year."

* If you are a member of the clergy and would be interested in Stand Up for Jesus, click here. There is no cost to take part but numbers are limited.

For more information visit or call 01793 418218.

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