Friday, 11 January 2008

St Cuthbert's Church, Bensham

I wanted to make a correction to my 'Church Commissioners sell church to SSG for £100' post. The sale of the church to the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSGCT) has not yet gone ahead as I said it had. SSGCT have offered to take on the building for 'worship use in accordance with the rites and customs of the Orthodox Christian Church and as a Christian book and gift shop' and they have been asked to develop these proposals. The Church Commissioners will then publish a 'draft Scheme' under the Pastoral Measure 1983 setting out the details of these proposals which the public has four weeks to respond to. If objections are received the Commissioners' Redundant Churches Committee will consider them and decide whether the Scheme should proceed in the light of the issues raised. This page has more information about the process. If a 'draft Scheme' is published I will be sure to let you know.

Apologies for getting it wrong in my previous post. I contacted Jonathan Wallace, editor of the blog I linked to, who told me that the information in his post came from a journalist on the Evening Chronicle, the local paper. (No criticism of Jonathan is intended by the way - he was simply passing on what he'd been told.) The Evening Chronicle had apparently already published the story, but I've been unable to find that online to check out the details. I have discovered an earlier story 'Revamp hope for old church'. Anyway - sorry. I should have taken more time to look into the story.

On an utterly unrelated note I saw that Jonathan's latest post is about local opposition to plans for a big top on a large bit of grass. The 'NE1' organisation is part of 'Hope08' and they have a website about the big top plans here.

Hope 08, if you remember, is the large initiative set up to help Christians have an impact on their communities.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Mark Brewer asks for website changes

Mark Brewer of the St Stephen the Great Trust has written to Phil Groom of the UK Christian Bookshops Directory asking that some information be removed from his website. From the UK Christian Bookshops Directory News page:

Dear Sir,

I write to request that you kindly remove the following from your website which I was most shocked and disappointed to read when perusing it today:

"Unfortunately the shops have suffered under their new management to the point where many staff have felt unable to work under the new regime and have left. Some shops have apparently closed down; of those remaining, opening times, stock availability and levels of customer service are in a state of flux and may not be as expected: prospective customers would therefore be wise to phone ahead before visiting.

Previous shop descriptions have been removed and SSG have been invited to provide up to date details; they have not yet responded: information about the shops shown here may or may not be valid. Updates on the situation will be posted in UKCBD News Section as and when information becomes available."

This information is completely wrong. I totally disagree that the shops have not suffered under Saint Stephen the Great. Whether or not you feel otherwise, the facts are strongly to the contrary: the Truro shop and all the 22 other shops SSG acquired in 2006 have continued to be in operation and their trading is thriving - especially considering negative comments such as on this webpage!

Another fact: had SSG not agreed to take them over on November 1, 2006, Truro and the other 22 shops formerly owned by SPCK would have "suffered" closure by the end of 2006.

I am unaware of being contacted to "provide up to date details." I can assure you that the Truro shop is open and is going to remain open including after December 24 when our manager puts in his last day of service. The hours of operation are not in flux, as he can attest (he is after all the manager).

So, please do remove these two unhelpful and incorrect comments.

Thank you.

J. Mark Brewer
Chairman and CEO
Saint Stephen the Great LLC
(Message dated 17th December 2007)

Also: My recent story about the church sold to SSG for £100 requires some more investigation. It appears that the St Cuthberts Gateshead church situation may not be as it first appeared. More when I know it.