Tag Archives: Church House Publishing

Do we need an Anglican Books Forum?

Matt Wardman writes:

This is not within the strict remit of the SPCK campaign group, but we are a network including booksellers, readers, authors, publishers and all manner of interested parties – so I thought I would run a flag up the flagpole.

Future of Church House Publishing

Phil Groom has posted about a decision to hand over Church House Publishing, currently owned by the Archbishops’ Council which is the Church of England “Cabinet”, to the Hymns Ancient & Modern company:

The Archbishops’ Council is in discussion with Hymns Ancient & Modern with a view to outsourcing the Council’s publishing services. The proposed agreement would maintain the Council’s long-term commitment to publishing liturgy, key reference titles and other resources for the Church.

Clearly the SPCK/Brewer experience has caused us to realise that the people who will get hurt – if anyone does – who are the staff, customers and suppliers, need to have a voice. This applies even – and I need to emphasise this – if the other party is basically trusted as is certainly the case with Hymns Ancient & Modern, which is a different world from Philip and J Mark Brewer.

There are still important questions about the concentration of influence and other questions, and Phil puts this better well:

  • Does the Church of England need an independent voice for its publishing division?
  • Is it right to concede so much control of the Church’s voice to the owners of the Church Times?
  • What provision — pastoral as well as financial — is being made for staff who now face the very real possibility of redundancy?

There is more detail on Wannabe Priest’s blog.

Anglican Books Forum

That has set off the thought whether we need a group / network / whatever that can be an arena where the range of people interested in books can have these conversations.

These are some initial thoughts.

  • When the Brewer detail is finally revealed, everyone will be looking for a network or body to comment on these kind of questions.
  • The current question around CHP demonstrates the need for something independent but comprehensive to raise alarm.
  • I’m suggesting that such a setup could have its seed as a spinoff from SPCKSSG.
  • We have seen the the need for an Anglican focus, e.g., a group that can raise a hue and cry in General Synod etc if necessary, but also be consulted by e.g., the Archbishops’ Council. Of course there’s a “promote books” role as well.
  • Needs to encompass publishers /booksellers /readers /writers / bookstaller people / various other stakeholders.

Note: clearly “books” is the wrong word, since we are in a multimedia age – but it’s the best I could do for now.

Wrapping Up

This needs to be talked about more widely, since it is not our core purpose – which continues to be the scrutiny of the run down of the former-SPCK bookshop chain until the bitter (or not) end.

Also, it’s not something we can drive from here – anyone interested in picking up the baton? We can advise.

What do you think?

A Psalm for Thursday

Time to Pray

Phil Groom writes:

For my not-quite-daily prayers I use Church House Publishing‘s Time to Pray: it’s an excellent and very handy little prayer book, just right for someone like me whose mind tends to wander all over the place as I wander into work each day. I find the structure and discipline of following a fixed pattern of prayer is precisely what my chaotic and caffeine-laced mind needs; and yes, I count myself fortunate to have a job to go to, unlike many of those for whom I offer this Psalm, those whose employment tribunals are coming up on Thursday this week.

It also strikes me as highly appropriate that for this post I am drawing on a book published by Church House Publishing, one of the publishers (alongside SPCK themselves, of course) whom I believe the collapse of the SPCK bookshops has hit the hardest.

Today, being Tuesday (albeit not for much longer: I’m writing this at 10.30pm), one of the set readings is Psalm 17:1-8. It struck me as highly appropriate for Thursday’s hearings and I took the liberty of rephrasing it slightly in my prayers this morning, turning it from the singular to the plural, from the past to the present… and yes, a few more liberties. Hit the link above for the unadulterated text if such things worry you. I offer it again for all of us now:

Refrain: Deliver us, O Lord, by your hand.

1  Hear our just cause, O Lord; consider our complaint; 
 listen to our prayer, which comes not from lying lips.

2  Let our vindication come forth from your presence; 
 let your eyes behold what is right.

3  Weigh our hearts, examine us by night, 
 refine us, and you will find no impurity in us.

Deliver us, O Lord, by your hand.

4  May our mouths not trespass for earthly rewards; 
 may we heed the words of your lips.

5  May our footsteps hold fast in the ways of your commandments; 
 may our feet not stumble in your paths.

Deliver us, O Lord, by your hand.

6  We call upon you, O God: will you answer us? 
 Incline your ear to us, and listen to our words.

7  Show us your marvellous loving-kindness, 
 O Saviour of those who take refuge at your right hand
   from those who rise up against them.

8  Keep us as the apple of your eye; 
 hide us under the shadow of your wings.

Deliver us, O Lord, by your hand.

The problem with such a prayer, of course, is that the Brewers are likely to be offering similar prayers, thinking of us as their enemies, rising up against them. That’s perhaps one of the saddest aspects of this whole business, that they too believe themselves to be serving God. It’s enough to make a grown man weep; and I do.

If you can, then, pray not with bitterness, pray not for vengeance, but rather for peace and justice…

Finally: Mark and Philip Brewer, if you happen to read this: once again, I assure you of my prayers: may you find the grace to respond generously to those whom you have wronged; and if you cannot find that grace of your own free will, may the courts help you find your way…