It was William Ings in 1878 who started the publishing work in the United Kingdom.
As a colporteur (literature evangelist) It’s recorded that he’d publish 1,000 copies of denominational periodicals and tracts and circulate them among the ships in Southampton and then door-to-door in the city. As David Marshall notes, while Ings made ‘use of thousands of the American Signs of the Times magazines . . . he grasped the importance of putting the Adventist message into an English context for English readers’.1
The history of the Stanborough Press, such as can be found in the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, continues to be the story of a company of incredibly faithful and dedicated employees, both past and present, who recognise the leading of the Lord in their daily work at the Grantham-based site. When they and the company faced challenges that looked insurmountable, God always provided a way.
Like many other companies, Stanborough Press has found the last 18 months a tremendously challenging time. ‘But, praise God, we are still here,’ says the production manager, Peter Oppong-Mensah. Recognising the many current business challenges we face – including the new ‘Brexit’ challenge, he notes with a smile – ‘We have come to understand in a very new way the meaning of “red tape” as we continue to grow our European export market and serve Irish Mission members in the Republic of Ireland.
The last 18 months could be described as a roller-coaster ride: ‘But,’ says Adventist Book Centre Manager, Trevor Johnson, ‘the very week lockdown began, in March 2020, our new online retail outlet, LifeSource Christian Bookshop (https://lifesourcebookshop.co.uk), went live, revolutionising our sales pattern, to help us stay connected with members.’
On the front line of staying connected are Ian Clutton, Jose De Jesus, and Andrew Sewell, who take the sales line calls. ‘It’s certainly been a challenging year with reduced staff, leaving each of us with more work to do, but the website has become our lifeline,’ says Ian. Jose, on furlough for most of lockdown, commented, ‘This work is a calling, and I for one am happy to be back.’
Over in the Accounts Department, Jacqueline Anderson and Dave Selvage continue to work in their amazingly calm manner – even with, as Dave notes, ‘the extra workload’. And that has been the overriding spirit of ‘Team Press’ – all chipping in, and, where necessary, learning to multi-skill. What keeps Dave going is also his great sense of humour (see the cartoon on his office noticeboard)! Jacqueline likewise can be immersed in the forensics of reconciling accounts one morning, and packing orders ready to be dispatched in the afternoon.
Philip Anderson (Jacqueline’s husband) works in the Export Department. Phil will tell you he has ‘many tasks’, but as strategic as any for the company is his responsibility for keeping the lifesourcebookshop.co.uk website up to date with new books and special offers. Again, he multi-tasks, along with all the team at Alma Park.
How have we done through the pandemic and lockdown? ‘I think the company has done very well, all things considered,’ says Paul Brewin, who works in the Export Department with Mark Walmsley. If you want to get a sense of the breadth of reach of the mission of Stanborough Press, watch Paul and Mark pack a container to the rafters with books destined for such places as Kenya, Zambia, or South Africa. These are not just any old books, but life-giving books telling of Christ!
As for the editorial department, Andrew Puckering (proof-reader) reflects, ‘It has been a challenging time. Working from home had its blessings, though I did miss the walk to the office. We trust in God for the future.’ Sarah Jarvis (editorial secretary) agrees, and is ‘glad to see the team back’, as for most of the past 18 months she has been alone in the office. ‘Communicating and editing with the team via email and phone takes a significantly longer time than when we’re all in the office together.’
David Bell – now the longest-serving member of staff (with 40+ years of service) – is able to see the long view as he reflects on the past 18 months. ‘Over the years Stanborough Press has been through some incredibly challenging times – I’ve seen them all! But as those challenges have come and gone, amazingly, we are still here. I continue to believe there is still a bright future for the company.’
‘Who could ever have predicted the COVID-19 experience and the resulting lockdown?’ says the company’s managing director, Elisabeth Sangüesa, “But I have sensed over the past 18 months that the Lord has not just kept Stanborough Press going, but re-shaped it for the new challenges we will face ahead.’ Throughout lockdown, Elisabeth led from the front, working daily on site in the Alma Park warehouse, supporting the sales and despatch team and ensuring that orders received were despatched the same day. ‘That’s the level of service we offer our customers, pandemic or no pandemic!’
Not everyone is back at work yet, due to the government furlough scheme, but we look forward to the return of Fran Brooks, Abigail Murphy, Andrea Sarlinova, Eutella Simon, and Rosangela Teixeira in October.
What would William Ings make of Stanborough Press today? Who knows . . . but we’re confident that we continue in the same spirit, putting the Adventist message into an English context, not least for UK and Ireland readers.
‘With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!’ (Ellen G. White, Education, p. 271.)
This well-known quote is often used as the basis for Adventist youth ministry, a work the Irish Mission takes seriously. As valued members of the church family, they are nurtured through various support networks: Sabbath School, local church youth groups, Adventurers and Pathfinders, the Irish Mission the teen and young adult ‘Outposts’ project and the Irish Mission Adventist Students’ Association (IMASA).
Working together, church leaders, parents and members are faithfully working to equip the next generation to carry the torch of service and mission in Ireland. But, more than that, they are working to help youth find Jesus and accept Him as their personal Saviour and Friend.
An easy task in today’s world?
Not at all, as it is clear to us that the devil truly walks around as a lion, seeking to devour our youth, to quote 1 Peter 5:8. They face challenges that older members of the church family have never had to deal with: not least, from ever rising social pressures in our increasingly digital world. As one young person recently put it: in the process of ‘questioning my self-worth as a child, I turned away from the church and into a world of drugs and alcohol, trying to find a place to fit in. . . .’
Sadly, this is not an uncommon story among our youth. When confronted with what society offers – instant gratification, sexual excitement without commitment, and the ‘it’s all about me’ survival of the fittest culture – they have lost sight of their purpose and sense of self-value in Christ. Our aim is to engage with them, listen to them, encourage them, and, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, lead them back to Christ! Our ministry is long-term, ensuring that we can help prevent the next generation of youth from taking the same painful path. Our ministry is modelled as follows, regarded as a duty – to establish our youth in Christ:
‘Let the youth remember that here they are to build characters for eternity, and that God requires them to do their best. Let those older in experience watch over the younger ones; and when they see them tempted, take them aside, and pray with them and for them’ (Ellen G. White, Messages to Young People, p. 18).
It’s a tall order, for sure – but, in contrast to a despairing spirit, we are energised about this challenge, particularly with the recent appointment of Pastor Jefferson Melki as the new youth sponsor. The son of a pastor, Jefferson comes with a ‘prodigal son’ experience, and aims to ‘support Irish Mission youth in becoming disciples of Christ; and, as they do so, to reach their full potential’. Excited about his new role, he is clear about the missional impact of such a group of youth. ‘Imagine if Irish Mission youth believed in, became like, and ultimately took on and lived the same mindset of Christ. If this became a reality, I don’t think that their impact on Ireland and Northern Ireland can be underestimated!’
Pastor Jeff begins his ministry by interacting with youth leaders and the youth themselves, aiming to engage active and non-active members in friendly dialogue to identify their needs.
These needs will be addressed over the next two years, focusing on the following three aspects:
In-reach: To teach and equip the active youth, leadership roles will be offered to the youth in various activities, and in the process they will be nurtured into the future leaders of the Irish Mission.
Outreach: To help and guide our struggling youth back to church, activities such as sports, mental health discussions, addiction recovery sessions, apologetics talks, outposts and IMASA will be aimed at helping these youth realise that church is so much more than just a regular Saturday service. The main goal is to help them find Christ as their ultimate hope, purpose, and strength.
Media Ministry: To keep the youth further engaged in their spiritual growth, they will be directed to sources of online books, sermons, Christian motivational videos, and music designed for them.
It’s exciting, isn’t it?! Whether you are an Irish Mission member or you belong to a church in the wider British Union Conference, we ask you to pray for us as together we help establish a new start for youth work in the Irish Mission. In your own church, why not become involved by learning the names of your church’s youth and using them, often? For more information on how you can get involved in this youth work, email Pastor Jeff – email@example.com Read more
On 9 April, the St Vincent La Soufrière volcano erupted, covering most of the once-idyllic island with a thick grey blanket of ash (up to 42 centimetres in some places). In addition, the neighbouring islands of St Lucia and Barbados have also been affected, with ‘homes, crops and water supplies . . . also destroyed or contaminated’, according to a 27 April Sky News report.2
With the hurricane season just a few weeks away, Vincentians face an added challenge as they try to recover from the ash.
According to ADRA, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency visited St Vincent on 23 April to evaluate the emergency, which highlighted the need for food, water, and shelter, still crucial necessities for thousands of evacuees.
The report highlights (updated on 27 April):
– 85 public shelters house 4,396 occupants.
– 6,790 persons are registered in private shelters.
– 1,618 families are in private homes.
– 1,333 persons in private homes are registered to feed at shelters.
– 156 persons are sheltered in hotels.
A total of 13,303 persons have been displaced by the eruptions.
Cash donations are preferred due to logistical challenges. On the plus side, the local water production capability is growing, and work is ongoing to restore a pipe-borne supply to the public. Bottled water distribution continues across the SVG.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA) will be providing 1,280 meals per day for one month – for 12 shelters.
ADRA-UK has raised more than £14,000 to date, and has immediately made £12,000 available towards providing food to the shelters.
To assist with ADRA’s emergency response on St Vincent, please donate now!
Combating loneliness, isolation and exclusion – together
The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation
By Thom S. Rainer, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2020.
Book Review by
Joanne Cortes – associate pastor at Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Beltsville, Maryland, United States.
COVID-19 has impacted practically every church around the world. In this book, The Post-Quarantine Church, Thom Rainer looks at what our church may look like after the pandemic. He offers six urgent challenges and opportunities that may help a church to determine the kind of future it will have.
The first challenge Rainer suggests is that the church should gather differently and better, find innovative ways to use the church facility, and be ready to think of creative ways to reach people currently not being reached (11).
The second challenge involves seizing the opportunity to reach the digital world by designing the most effective social media plan for the church right now. Beware of jeopardizing the church by being digitally busy while having no effectiveness. It is better to simplify the content being shared (25).
The third challenge is to reconnect with the neighborhood. Be a church in and for the community by having a clear purpose and mission and by being a positive influence on those in the vicinity (39).
The fourth challenge is to pray. Take prayer to a powerful, new level by praying regularly and asking members, as well as the community, to join in this challenge. Prayer can happen in an empty church building, via technology, basically anywhere (55).
The fifth challenge reminds churches that after the quarantine, they can practically begin with a “new slate” and serve their communities in ways never done before. This would be a good time to partner with new organizations and groups (69).
The sixth challenge involves encouraging churches to consider making lasting changes that will make a difference. Think strategically and reevaluate ministry objectives, committee budgets, job descriptions, and other aspects of the organization to position the church for success after the quarantine (85).
The final chapter in this book states that challenges faced by the church can also be opportunities. The author lists nine key changes for the post-quarantine church that also reinforce the six challenges provided earlier:
- Simplicity will be vitally important.
- Only outwardly focused churches will survive.
- Worship-service gatherings will be smaller.
- “Multi” will multiply.
- Staff and leadership realignment will focus more on digital proficiency.
- “Stragglers” will become a subject of outreach and focus.
- Digital worship services will be newly proposed.
- Ministry training will change dramatically.
- Pastors will leave their lead positions for second-chair roles.
Rainer concludes by articulating that “the post-quarantine era may prove to be one of the most challenging seasons for churches and their leaders. The opportunity to lead change is likely greater than at any other point in our lifetimes” (110). The pandemic has changed the world and the way we are used to doing church, yet there is a great opportunity in that we are practically given a blank slate—an opportunity to rethink, re-create, and revamp church.
I recommend this easy-to-read book to those who may be unsure about whether the church is being truly effective in the mission during these uncertain times, those who need help in rethinking what church should look like after quarantine, those whose church may be struggling because of COVID-19, and those who are ready to begin to think outside of what is normal. As we enter this new “normal,” we cannot forget that Jesus promises that no matter what we go through, even if it be a pandemic, He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:19, 20).