Friday, 9 November 2007

Radio interview with Mark Brewer

There is a radio interview with Mark Brewer on this Orthodox radio station in which he outlines his plans for the former SPCK shops. It starts about 9 minutes in and ends at 25 minutes in.

An excerpt from the show:
Mark Brewer:
"At that time it was an entirely Protestant chain serving mostly the needs of the Church of England. We have gradually, as quickly as we can - but it is a gradual process - been working to transform these into Orthodox bookshops. Our biggest selling item by the way is Bibles, and that was true before we took it over, so, you wouldn't call that Protestant obviously."

Let me ask you a question Mark; Any resistance to the introduction of Orthodox Christian books and material within this Protestant setting?

Mark Brewer:
There's been a substantial amount of resistance and it's manifested itself in a lot of ways that frankly I would not have expected. For the most part our staff has been supportive but not entirely, and we've tried to take their feelings and attitudes into account and approach this in a loving Christlike way, but at the same time Father we just don't feel comfortable selling theological books that are really what I would call inimical to Orthodoxy.

He goes on to talk about the banning of the Koran from the Bookshops, and then this about the Chichester shop:
England is so rich with the blood of the martyr saints. We have, just as an example: one of the shops that we have taken over is in a church - you're gonna love this Father - this church was built in the 11th century. It's one of the oldest buildings in the kingdom, and it's still standing in it's original form. It was dedicated to the saint King Olave who was (?) the invading Danes. He is the same person who murdered Saint King Edmund as in Bury St Edmund in East Anglia near the eastern shore of the country. Well we're in his church there selling books. The SPCK started that over 50 years ago, and we're now in the process of making a transition - it's a very small building but it's right in the middle of the heaviest pedestrian shopping area of the town of Chichester in southern England. And we're going to make this into a usable worship space for Orthodox worship, so that we can continue to sell books towards the back sort of like you might do in a parish church, but turn this building back into a church.

He then discusses imminent plans to buy a derelict church overlooking the Tyne in Newcastle and turn it into an Orthodox church.

Thanks to Ursula for the tip. As she says:
He clearly states that the intention is to make the shops "Orthodox shops" - for the Orthodox community. This interview took place on 27th October 2007 as far as we can

When is he going to announce that to the staff and also his plans for Chichester? Do they know?

Phelim McIntyre, former assistant manager of the Chichester shop, has posted these comments below:
Having spoken with people who know the Chichester situation this blog page is the first they will know about it.

The Chichester shop is a consecrated building. That is it is still a Church of England church, owned by Chichester Diocese. It is used rent free under a covenant dating back 50 years. An Anglican communion must take place once a year as part of that Covenant. The Brewers/SSGCT are responsible for the upkeep of the building, something neither they or SPCK before them did anything about. Because of this Mark Brewer can not just turn the building into an Orthodox Church. I know all of this because I was assistant manager at the Chichester shop and we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the shop just before I left.

I have been in contact with Chichester Diocese about this, and this blog was the first they knew about it.

To anyone affected who is reading - I'm really sorry you had to find out this way.

As recently as 8th May 2007 a special evensong was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Chichester SPCK bookshop. The Bishop of Chichester preached, and his sermon is here as a pdf (I'd link to the Chichester Cathedral website but it uses frames). A short extract:
I am glad of this opportunity to honour the fiftieth anniversary of The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in Chichester and the very distinguished service given by Barbara Scott over very many years. Not only have I benefited greatly from the bookshop itself and from Barbara's own expertise and knowledge and that of her colleagues, but I also have a rather personal reason for being grateful to be standing here today. Twenty-five years ago this year (when SPCK was celebrating its first quarter century in St Olave's Church) I was installed as Bursalis Prebendary in this Cathedral, a stall which had, not many years previously, been occupied by William Kemp Lowther-Clarke, long-time editorial secretary and distinguished historian of the Society.

According to its mission statement, SPCK exists
"to promote Christian knowledge
by communicating the Christian faith in its rich diversity,
helping people to understand it and develop their personal faith
and equipping Christians for mission and ministry."

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