Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great

Phil Groom writes:

Or perhaps that should be “St Stephen the Grate”, because it’s a name that’s really beginning to grate on my ears…

The last time I used that headline, I put a question mark on the end. Today, judging from Matt Wills’ posting of the notice below, which he spotted in the window of the Salisbury shop this week, it’s clear that there’s no question whatsoever — we are dealing with blatant lies:

'Make it happen...'

SSG Salisbury: Make it happen...

Make it happen – volunteer with the UK’s most successful Church and Bookshop Charity. – Saint Stephen the great/SPCK bookshops. 

Looking for an exciting and interesting way to make a difference in promoting Christian Knowledge and the saving of our Christian heritage within our Churches? Whatever your interests or skills, we would love to have you be involved..

Learn new skills, meet new people, and work right at the heart of amazing buildings and locations. And not only work, but be involved in missionary work right in your own back yard.. Just imagine what you could do

Indeed. Just imagine what you could do. You could follow the company’s instructions to lie to your customers: you could use Third Space Books to process customer orders in direct violation of Amazon’s terms for affiliates: you could turn what few books you have in stock face-out on the shelves in an attempt to hide the gaps because you can’t actually order anything: you could offer customers discounts if they’ll fill in gift aid forms: you could work single-handed without being allowed to sit down whilst on duty: you could get an email telling you that SSG has been dissolved but, since you’re a volunteer, that won’t worry you… oh, yes, and you could try cleaning the windows: Philip Brewer’s pretty hot on window cleaning, and if Matt’s photo is anything to go by (zoom in here) those windows in Salisbury could certainly do with it… and, of course, you could pretend that you’re working for SPCK.

Yes, fantastic opportunity: if you’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But please don’t help the Brewers bring Christian bookselling or the church into any further disrepute: they’re doing a fine enough job of that in Durham.

Mark Brewer: I’m sure you’ll read this in due course. That may not be your fingerprint embedded in that blob of blu-tack holding that notice in the window. But your fingerprints are all over this sorry mess that you’ve made of the SPCK bookshops. Yes, we know they weren’t perfect, that changes were needed; the staff knew that and they knew that their jobs were on the line if they didn’t pull it together. But you and your brother went in like bulls into a china shop, completely clueless about even the basics of bookselling, completely lacking in anything even remotely resembling people skills — and you dare to call other people to serve as ‘missionaries’?? On behalf of Orthodoxy???

A while back you threatened me with legal action if I didn’t take down that earlier report bearing this report’s title. It’s tempting, very tempting, to hit back with similar threats in response to the allegations you made against me in that correspondence. But instead, I offer you some simple advice: take down that silly notice.

And hand the shop over to someone capable of running it rather than ruining it. Give it to them as it was given to you.

Thank you.


15 responses to “Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great

  1. that’s well said Phil.

  2. Hah! Maybe we should inquire of Ms. Lindsey Stokes about the joys of “volunteering” for St. Stephen the Great, since we can understand by your previous post that she more or less volunteered involuntarily. How about a notice that says, “You, too, can work overtime lugging stacks of books that are too heavy for you up and down stairs. We’ll be happy not to pay you.”

    I’d say there’s a missing Scripture passage here: “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” (Her hire, too, of course . . .)

  3. Honestly – these people have reached rock bottom and show signs of digging. They are so dense light bends around them!

    I think its time that the Brewers gave as much credence to the Old Testament as the Orthodox church they claims to be part of does, and read up about God’s attitude to unrighteous trade.

  4. One way or another, anyboby who falls under the net of SSG is scarred.

  5. That means anybody not a boby. Going out to buy a new keyboard.

  6. As I’ve said before ……bizarre……

  7. Speaking as a lay Orthodox Christian, I need to remind Mr. Brewer that he has absolutely no right to be involved in any kind of “missionary work” here without the blessing of the canonical Orthodox Bishops present in the U.K.

    It goes without saying that anyone involved in any business seeking to promote Orthodoxy in the U.K. will have to display a scrupulous attention to the welfare of staff employed, as well as compliance with all relevant laws, and conduct the business in a honest way – which includes paying suppliers and not misleading a regulator or a Court. That should all be fairly basic, but Mr. Brewer seems not to grasp it.

    As Mr. J. Mark Brewer reads this blog, let me say to him, and to the members of his family concerned, each and every one of them : you are an embarrassment to the Orthodox Church. Please wind up your involvement with SSG and leave the Orthodox in the U.K. alone. We can develop our Church with God’s help and without yours, thank you. And please do this NOW.

  8. Well there you go!!!, and thats from your fellow Orthodox family. Well no they don’t want you as part of there family. What more is there to say?

  9. I was going to ask which bishop had jurisdiction over Poole. I wanted to ask who pays the priest. I also wanted to ask why the priest should be reporting to Mark Brewer instead of to his bishop. Is Mark Brewer in charge of the church in Poole?

  10. Pingback: J. Mark Brewer: you are an embarrassment to the Orthodox Church « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  11. Have just remembered this claim from the Brewers on the SSG website: “In the ensuing 3 years, the Trust has acquired redundant churches in Dorset, West Yorkshire, County Durham, Suffolk, Norfolk and West Sussex”

    We know of the one in Dorset and the one in West Yorkshire (St Osmands, Poole and Mary Magdelene Orthodox Church, Mannignham, Bradford). The only church building in Norwich that SSG had anything to do with is the one that hosted the bookshop and now has an independent – nothing to do with SSG or the Brewers – affair . They do not own the building but still claim to on the SSG site. This statement dates from June 2008. Yet the shop closed in Feb 08. Notice Mark Brewer claims they own a church building in County Durham – with his delusions of adequacy could Mark Brewer be refering to the Cathedral? At the moment nothing would suprise me.

  12. Valiant for Truth

    The Brewers were trying to purchase a redundant church in Bensham, Gateshead (which is in the Diocese of Durham), but they were stopped from doing so. Perhaps they think they have a chance of appeal? (Wrong!)

  13. Phelim, you are quite right in saying the Bookshop at Norwich closed in Feb 2008, but the Cafe was kept open. The Brewer’s did re-open the Bookshop using agency staff, but they were operating under the same crippling directives as the original team. Both Bookshop and Cafe closed around mid June.

  14. Valiant for Truth

    And the Norwich shop re-opens this week under PROPER independent management – God bless their work.

  15. Pingback: From Salisbury to York « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

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