Monday 13th May 2013 – Set Up Day

With our Canterbury Church’s Minibus (seats removed) packed with all manner of exciting exhibition equipment, Roy Hipkiss and I set off for Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey. This famous race course is home each year in its conference and exhibition centre, built under and behind the grandstand, to the International Christian Resources Exhibition, the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom.

Arriving mid-afternoon Roy and I set about erecting the stand and ensuring everything was in good working order. These included LED lights to enhance the ‘wrap around’ banner display that formed the backdrop, and a 2 screen computer, so that we could play, on a loop, the 2 ½ hour long video of my Consecration in 2008, and also display our Diocesan website.
As we worked we met our neighbours. Some friendly young men in the next door stand who were involved with the ‘Christian Motorsport Team’ … the centre piece of their display being a sports car – but more of that later! One of the organisers of CRE doing his rounds came and welcomed us.

My visits over the past few years to this Exhibition remind me and encourage me that the Christian Church, in all its ‘broadness’ is still a force to be reckoned with in the UK. I am amazed at the ingenuity and inspiration so many people have to support the Church in its ministry and work.

Tuesday 14th May 2013 – Day One

Jolly good first day, Canon Don Walker and Roy Hipkiss doing a fantastic job. Making contacts, fielding questions and sharing information. We have invested in a scanning device – a barcode scanner slightly more ‘up market’ than the local super market.

We can now build a database of individuals who have expressed an interest. But I have reassured them that the most they will get as a follow up will be a letter saying ‘Thank you for visiting us’. Unless they indicate they want more contact! Lots of diverse and interesting people. Periods of great busyness with all three of us in discussion and chat. A few difficult people asking questions or rather making statements such as “Oh you’re the lot that worship Mary” … but sadly most of them not willing to discuss or take information to explain and answer such inaccuracies.

We are in a good position by a coffee bar and near a large open area of book stalls. The only disappointment is our book sales today … We are selling Anglican Missals, copies of Archbishop Haverland’s book ‘Anglican Catholic Faith & Practice’, Mass Booklets, copies of my Consecration DVD’s and HALF PRICE ACC Ordo/Kalendars! Canon Don scored the first goal with the sale of a Ordo. Tomorrow we are changing our approach and better displaying our wares!

We have also established some new contacts for the Canterbury Church Shop and I have renewed an acquaintance with two lovely people I lost touch with years ago when they were forced to sell their business on health grounds. Good to see them but sorry to hear that the health problem is still there.

Wednesday 15th May 2013 – Day Two

An even busier day than yesterday. The Archdeacon, Fr Raymond Thompson was on duty, representing the clergy, Roy Hipkiss once again doing sterling work and Neil Annis (who is the Head of Development for my businesses and is helping promote the Church Shop) visiting CRE for the first time.

Canon Donald Walker and his wife Diana visited to give us moral support. (Di is in need of prayer because she is in great discomfort and has difficulty walking), I appreciated greatly her visit to ‘cheer us on’.

Very interesting visitors – sales are up too … Interest in the Missal and the Archbishop’s book increasing. Very encouraging reception from some ‘Forward in Faith’ folk and, rather unexpectedly, from some Christians on the complete opposite of the ecclesiastical spectrum! Thankfully only a few odd, confrontational and awkward folk, and only one or two outright rude ones! The Archdeacon did get a female Church of England minister approach him and say “You’re the people that don’t like us” to which he responded “we like everyone”. But she wasn’t having any of it!

Heigh ho!

Thursday 16th May – Day Three

Phew … What a day!

“O happy band of pilgrims …” An accident on the M25 delayed poor Father Thompson, Beatrice Engramer and Matt Foulkes who all had a pretty horrendous journey. But Roy Hipkiss and I were there in plenty of time and Canon Walker joined us again.

In some respects the first half hour set a recurring theme for the rest of the day.

An argumentative women made a bee line for us and tried to argue with me about the ACC’s stance on just about everything. She and her husband were very dismissive of our size, our history and refused any literature or explanations. Sadly in mid argument she revealed that in her Church of England Church lay people were allowed to celebrate Holy Communion. I found myself, rather unexpectedly, explaining the Church of England’s own rules prohibiting this practice to her!

She must have enjoyed her attack because she returned for a second fly past … Rather apt on this 70th anniversary of the Dam Busters Raid in 1943! I didn’t relish being the target as she released her ‘bouncing bombs’ as she ‘flew’ down the Esher Hall at me! However, better me than any of our lay or clergy volunteers!

There were a lot of positive contacts and many people, including some Protestant, Evangelical, Free Church folk, who seemed genuinely amazed that we actually have some things in common!

However, I became aware from some of those visiting us that whether they were liberals in theology and practice or ultra conservative Protestants, many were on a completely different wave length to us!

I had one or two of the other exhibitors approach me who were aware of the flack we seemed to be attracting and they commiserated and one lady on another stall offered to take our literature to display.

Canon Donald Walker added a particularly bright moment to the day when he climbed behind the wheel of the ‘Christian Motorsport Team’ Sports Car !

The day ended for me as it started … Except instead of a ‘Dam Buster Raid’ it was more of a ‘Stealth Strike’. A man, whose collar and badge stated, he was a minister in the United Reformed Church approached me just after closing and after cracking a couple of unfunny jokes (aimed at the tradition within Anglo-Catholicism and the requirement in Roman Catholicism of clerical celibacy)… Suddenly turned nasty and accused me, and (through me), every Traditional Anglican Catholic, of being responsible for all the ills in the Church in this country from paedophilia to what he termed reducing the Church of England to a “laughing stock”.

The emotional response from, in particular the first lady and the URC Minister at the end was intense. I am sorry that they are carrying such heavy and clearly painful ‘baggage’ but neither of them wanted to discuss or debate our differences … I had some booklets specially printed on the ‘hot potatoes’ that I thought might arise. To prevent arguments and try and head off confrontation … Sadly these folk refused this information because they couldn’t and wouldn’t accept anything that might challenge them to think differently!

Friday 17th May – Final Day

The Gospel of St John 13:34-35
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

A good end to an interesting (although somewhat challenging) week. Today Roy Hipkiss, Canon Donald Walker and I were joined by Dr Roy Fidge (Diocesan Secretary) and Miss Katherine Baker.

Good contacts continued to be made, information leaflets and booklets distributed and some interesting people encountered.

Sadly, Katherine was singled out when she was on her own, off exploring the CRE, by a CofE clergywoman who was really very rude, confrontational and nasty. But dear Katherine stayed calm and weathered the storm and stood her ground in a dignified way. One male clergyman justified why he disagreed with us by stating his wife was also “a priest according to the formularies of the Church of England”… as if that made it all right then. One lady said we were denying her “calling to serve God” … and this of course is the bigger issue … not about the possibility that she may have been called to serve God, (she may well have been called … or like many men too, she may have imagined a calling), but the failure of the Church she belongs to help her discern that calling in the framework of historic catholic and apostolic practice. Let me make clear we encountered other clergy (male and also female) who while not necessarily agreeing with us were a credit to their collars and did not bait us.

Our ACC presence has caused a stir, and although that wasn’t really our intention, We have had a lot of positive and encouraging comments from our fellow Christians. We have met some very like-minded people, including some who made it clear how important it was to them personally, that we were present.

Throughout the week I met a lot of people who already knew of us through our website (about which comments made were most complimentary). One C of E priest knew us all by name and even our individual locations (a bit disconcerting but a revelation about how important the internet is!). The branding on the Church Minibus parked strategically by Roy Hipkiss each day provoked comment and brought us enquirers.

I started this entry by quoting from St John’s Gospel, and revisiting Chapter 13, verse 35; “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” I ask the question to myself did I feel that the response to our presence manifested this important Christian virtue? Despite the rudeness of some Christians attending I can say YES. I think, on the whole, Christian discipleship manifested in Christian love, was the overall experience of CRE 2013! I know we, at the ACC Stall, all tried to do this! Praise God!

Saturday 18th May – CRE Post Mortem

The old saying is true “if you stick your head above the parapet you must be prepared to get shot at!” comes to my mind. I understand that there are many people who disagree with the Anglican Catholic Church’s stance on the Ordination of Women, the redefinition of Marriage, our liturgical, theological or even spiritual beliefs, teaching and practices. I also understand that there are many people who are hurt and bruised who saw us, perhaps, as an easy target to vent their anger and frustrations. Maybe given the saying above, I should have been a little more expectant of this. There were, of course, many more of those who were ‘Poles Apart’ from us on Liturgical, Theological or Spiritual matters, who were willing to discuss and debate, take leaflets and indicated that they had learnt something even if they hadn’t changed their own belief or position.

I reminded those manning our stand, that the people today who object to the ACC’s position seem to ‘forget’ that the onus really rests firmly on THEM and not on US to explain, justify and prove why their MINORITY view is correct and ours (With the support of much of Christendom – East and West – and 2000 years of Christian Tradition) is wrong! The facts remain that the changes that have taken place within much of the modern Church, have not made the Gospel more relevant (an impossibility anyway) for todays society. Nor have they converted the nation as a result of these changes. Instead every innovation and change has caused another exodus from the nations Churches. Someone tried to suggest that it was the fault of the “secular” world that Churches were empty – they made no connection with, nor accepted even the possibility, that it might be the fault in any way, shape or form, of those within the Christian Church!

Although I have gained a renewed respect for many of our orthodox Evangelical, Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ I met, it reinforced for me very sadly that many of those I encounter who are liberal in their Christian belief, extend their liberality only to those who are like them!

Of course we have experienced this sort of opposition in the past; via email, through comments on our website guestbook and even by telephone. Sometimes that ‘impersonal’ contact does mean people feel free to use language and convey strength of feeling that is extreme, nor does it mean it is any less painful to cope with – via remote communication channels! But of course it’s still an especial shock to the system when facing people in the flesh and seeing the flaring of nostrils and reddening of faces! But far more shocking is actually being in the physical presence of those who display such ignorance!


Was being at CRE a useful exercise? Yes. Would we do it again? Yes (if we can afford to … it isn’t cheap). Why? Because despite everything above, it is VERY, VERY rewarding to be face to face with people who say “Oh my goodness, I was beginning to despair that I would never find anything like the ACC … Where are you located? How do I join? There are people I know who I must tell I have met you! Can I have more leaflets please?