Today, we launch a formal petition to the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral in a bid to rescue this once outstanding bookshop from the hands of those who have ravaged it, namely Phil and Mark Brewer and their St Stephen the Great Trust.
The Brewers took control of this bookshop, of the entire SPCK Bookshop chain, with fine sounding words, but actions always speak louder than words: Durham Cathedral Bookshop — described by one eminent scholar at an international conference as “the best theological bookshop in the world” — is now but a shadow of its former self. The manager, Carole Burrows — who once organised An Evening Conversation on Jesus and Paul, a conversation between Professor James D G Dunn and the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd N T Wright, as one of many excellent initiatives that helped to keep the shop at the forefront of theological debate — was driven out. Current staff are demoralised.
The time has come to say: enough is enough! The time has come for the Dean and Chapter to take decisive action to rescue the shop from further decimation. Durham Cathedral is a World Heritage Site and an iconic northern shrine, a popular tourist destination and a centre of Britain’s spiritual life — yet it is now marred by association and ill-equipped to serve those who come to it seeking spiritual refreshment and theological enlightenment.
I hereby call upon the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral to step in, as Jesus once stepped in at the Temple in Jerusalem, and to drive out these men who are bringing this unique part of Britain’s Christian Heritage into disrepute. I urge you, please: take back control of your bookshop, of our bookshop.
And I call upon all others who feel similarly outraged — here in the UK, in the USA and throughout the world, and especially upon the residents of Houston, Texas, whose home town’s otherwise good name is similarly marred by this association — to sign this petition and to spread the word to encourage as many others as possible to do the same.
– Phil Groom.