Christian bookshop re-launched.
The Wesley Owen chain of Christian bookshops went into administration at the end of last year, but many are now coming back to life. Fifteen to twenty outlets are in the process of being taken over by The Nationwide Christian Trust which has visionary plans for these shops as centres for outreach and resourcing. The Inverness shop was re-opened on Saturday.
FOLLOWING the closure of the Wesley Owen shops the Living Oasis organisation has stepped in with a programme to re-open some of the shops and re-invigorate them with a wider vision than just selling books.
Speaking of the plans Rev. Andy Twilley, Director of Christian Life and Ministry stated: “Up until now, many of the struggling Christian bookshops have retained a very narrow focus and the bulk of the customers have been Christians. However, we believe that by thinking imaginatively and innovatively, these shops could play an increasingly key part in the work of the Kingdom.”
The precise plans for each shop will differ according to the different local situations and will also be influenced by the level of support from the local churches in the respective areas. Andy continued: “We will be seeking to draw local churches on board to become stake holders in these opportunities, and get involved helping to shape the vision and through prayer, volunteering and financial support."
Sitting behind this new venture is an extensive ministry based at Mulberry House (see below) which is located just to the north-east of London, and functions as a conference, training and resource centre. Located there also is a Prayer Line team of trained pastoral support workers.
In Inverness, the Living Oasis (formerly Wesley Owen) shop hosted a reopening ceremony on Saturday, 13th March, 2010 when Ian Lowe - the father of shop manager Fiona Thompson - welcomed the packed audience and introduced Rev. Prof. Andrew MacGowan (East Church) who formally opened the new venture.
Ian, who pastors a church fellowship in Dingwall read out the following statement from the Nationwide Christian Trust:
Today, eight Living Oasis shops have been opened in different parts of the UK. This brings the total open so far to ten shops. We commenced negotiations with the Administrators early in January 2010 and concluded our negotiations with them on the 3rd February. Since that time we have actively been restocking the shops and re-opening them as quickly as possible. In the case of Inverness the shop here will be temporary until we find suitable alternative accommodation covering approximately 2000 square feet. We passionately believe that coffee is a major aspect of the new initiative and will be available at the entrance of the shop. This will lead into a lounge which will be used by the church community and a children’s play area will be available near by. It has been evident to us that in many towns in our country, Christian bookshops have been under threat due to fewer customers coming into buy books. Today only one in ten Christians actually venture into a Christian bookshop. With the addition of coffee this will make the centre available to Christians and non Christians and we trust will increase the viability of these remodelled shops.
We thank you for coming today and would appreciate your support in the future. We would also like to thank our speaker, Andrew McGowan. It has been kind of you to come to this very special day for us at Living Oasis.
We would also like to thank Fiona Thomson and her team for all the hard work they have done behind the scenes in making the shop ready for today.
With every blessing.
Nationwide Christian Trust
In addition to the re-opening event, there is planned a Vision Lunch for Christian leaders from churches and Christian organisations to hear about and input to the plans for the future.
The following are some of the pictures were taken at the re-opening ceremony