If it hadn’t been for a ‘massive error’ in Washington DC, the late Bob Gass and UCB might never have met.
After just 29 visitors came through the doors of the two-day Christian Resources Exhibition in prestigious Washington DC, the event’s UK founder flew home counting the cost of a commercial disaster.
‘We were advised by our American partners that the capital would be ideal for the first event of its kind on US soil,’ recalled Gospatric Home. ‘It was a massive error. Despite a powerful marketing campaign to many thousands of church leaders, the attendance was embarrassingly poor.’
The exhibition was still in its infancy in the UK and the fledgling organisation did not need a loss-making event at such a precarious time in its existence. Unknown to Gos, however, one of the handful of visitors had been the late Bob Gass. And one of the exhibitors was United Christian Broadcasters. Until that day, they didn’t know each other existed.
And, in the economy of God, from the smallest of acorns a mighty oak grew.
Bob proposed contributing a devotional to UCB under the title Word For Today. The first edition was published in April 1994 with a print run of just 3,500. The rest is history.
Today, UCB distributes more than 300,000 printed copies quarterly to the UK alone, with an additional 76,000 people receiving it each day by email. In the first quarter of 2019, over 88,000 people read the daily devotional online and 76,000 people accessed the UCB Word For Today podcast via the UCB Player app. More than 300,000 people each week listen to UCB 1 and UCB 2, which both broadcast the UCB Word For Today every day.
‘None of this would have happened if UCB had not taken a stand at the exhibition,’ recalled Gos, now honorary president of CRE. ‘UCB must have been hugely impressed by Bob but it is quite normal for an enterprise of this kind to start quite modestly and grow in popularity. Many significant projects have begun through “chance” conversations in the aisles of CRE and we are grateful to God that we have been able to play a small part in his divine plans.’
This year, CRE National continues at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, from 15th to 17th October. The aim at all times is to make new resources as accessible as possible to all Christian churches, and some 180 organisations have already booked stands at CRE National 2019, presenting everything from musical instruments to motorcycle funerals. More than 4000 local church leaders and members, representing all major denominations, are expected to visit the three-day exhibition, to be opened by former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones and actress Fiona Hendley.
‘Local churches face a multitude of challenges and the exhibition will offer visitors the kind of lightbulb moments enjoyed by Bob Gass and UCB,’ said event director Brett Pitchfork. ‘Experts fill every CRE aisle, guiding visitors through the complexities of local ministry.’
UCB supporters can receive a free ticket to this year’s exhibition (worth £8) by pre-registering here.
CRE National 2019 at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey. Opening hours: Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th October, 10am-5pm; Thursday 17th October, 10am-4.30pm. Book your free ticket here (worth £8). Visit www.creonline.co.uk for more information.