With the forthcoming acquisition of publishers Lion Hudson from the AFD Group, the SPCK Group will be the UK’s largest Christian publisher with income in excess of £8 million per annum.
James Catford, chair of SPCK, said: ‘This is an exciting and visionary step which combines the UK market leader in children’s Christian publishing with the market leader in adult Christian publishing. The strengthened SPCK Group will now have the scale and resource to be a global leader in Christian publishing.’
Sam Richardson, chief executive of SPCK, said: ‘I am delighted that this move continues SPCK’s momentum. In the past six years we have doubled our income and won both the Christian Publisher of the Year and Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year awards three times. Our successful merger with Inter-Varsity Press has proved we can provide a seamless experience for authors and customers and retain the distinctive theological approaches of different imprints under one roof. This move will help both SPCK and Lion Hudson to better serve our authors, our customers and the church in the UK and around the world.’
David Dorricott, managing director of the AFD Group, said: ‘It has been a privilege to be part of God’s plan for Lion Hudson for a season – and we are delighted that this exciting opportunity will now release new energy not just in the amazing imprints of Lion Hudson, but also the wider SPCK group. We will continue to cheer them on in their vital work – especially in presenting a Christian world view to an increasingly secularised society.’
SPCK and Lion Hudson will be exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 October 202, Sandown Park, Surrey)
It has the capacity to process up to 60 baskets per hour, addresses anything from light soiling to resistant residues and provides thorough disinfection in the ever-present threat of pandemics – present and future.
So say Nelson, producers of a new, undercounter utensil and pot washer for 2021 to augment its highly-regarded Advantage warewasher range.
Meeting exacting standards in terms of build quality, usability, energy and water efficiency, the new Advantage Diligence produces outstanding results on all types of pots, trays and utensils. It has the capacity to process up to 60 baskets per hour and, with seven available programmes, it can address anything from light soiling to the most resistant residues, quickly and effectively. When necessary, the rinse cycle can be extended and, for very badly soiled items, the wash tank water can be completely replaced.
‘It’s built to work hard and it’s double skinned,’ said John Nelson. ‘AISI 304 stainless steel construction promises ongoing durability with generous insulation throughout to prevent heat from escaping. Additional thermo-acoustic insulation to the door and wash chamber ensure it’s very quiet in operation and a soft start option helps stabilise an unbalanced load, thus also helping to reduce noise emissions.’
Importantly, the pressure-pumped, thermostop controlled rinse water can be heated up to a maximum of 85°C to provide thorough disinfection, a very real concern for many users with the ever-present threat of pandemics.
‘The machine’s clear electronic controls are very user friendly and, in the event that a problem should occur, the machine has a self-diagnostic fault system,’ said John. ‘A self-clean programme avoids the need for manual cleaning and this will commence automatically at the end of service.’
When the machine hasn’t been used for a while it will revert to standby mode, thus ensuring no unnecessary energy is wasted.
Nelson are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 October 202, Sandown Park, Surrey)
While many churches have seen congregations swell by streaming services, nine out of 10 in a recent survey admit they have lost connection with people.
The Christian Conference Trust aim to rectify that by offering a special deal this summer for church congregations, leadership teams and youth groups to meet at their three centres at The Hayes, in Swanwick, Derbyshire, High Leigh in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire and Belsey Bridge in Ditchingham, Suffolk.
The survey, conducted by the trust, also discovered that 98 per cent of event organisers still plan to hold face-to-face conferences in the future – giving confidence to all Christian residential providers.
John Heasman, the trust’s chief executive, said: ‘There has never been a more important time to reconnect in person. Video conferencing helped us all through 2020 but it will never replace the closeness of community felt by going away for a weekend conference together. Our guests understand the value of residential events with 91 per cent telling us they do not believe that video conferencing will replace face-to-face contact.
‘We’ve been serving the Christian community for more than 100 years and we’re going to be here for the next generation of believers to enable their ministry to flourish. As one of our guests told us recently, ‘there is no substitute for togetherness’”.
Believing that the future of residential retreats is vital, the trust are offering church conference or retreat organisers a £49 per night all-inclusive deal when the centres reopen from July 1.
‘This should give a real lift to church groups and those who may never have experienced residential retreats,’ said John. ‘And it provides an incentive to attract many who are not regular churchgoers but have followed the streaming of services.’
The trust follows all the latest guidelines to create a Covid-safe environment.
A number of challenges face those implementing good safeguarding practice in the context of different cultures.
So found Thirtyone:eight and the University of Chester after conducting unique research into the challenges involved in safeguarding young people in international Christian work.
The exploratory study used a questionnaire to discover the experiences of agencies supporting people in the UK engaged in international Christian work, as well as the experiences of the individuals themselves engaged in this work.
The study also found that although there was much evidence of good practice, the findings did highlight distinct differences between the policy and processes in place versus the ‘challenging reality of implementing these in practices on the ground’.
Participants in the study included representatives from 39 organisations and agencies working in an international context. Importantly, the researchers found that two in every five surveyed reported that they encountered child safeguarding issues that they had not been prepared for.
Dr Lisa Oakley and Professor Moira Lafferty from the University of Chester who conducted the study said: ‘It is pleasing to see positive examples of good practice in the data and important that we continue to work together to address areas that the research identified as needing further consideration.
‘With little previous research in this area, we hope the findings will enable the further development of safeguarding policy in international Christian work and provide a foundation for organisations to work together to develop best practice.’
With the pandemic putting local church finances under pressure, one company is pulling out all the stops to make sure the music doesn’t stop.
‘We have introduced a special deal because churches are currently in a difficult position,’ said Tony Packer, who started Viscount Organs (Wales) 13 years ago. ‘Our Play Now, Pay Later scheme offers a new organ at a modest deposit with interest-free payments spread over the following two years. We appreciate that times are hard and may continue so until the pandemic reaches the stage at which churches are back to normal. We also realise that church finances have been hit with fewer people in the socially-distanced congregations.’
Based in South Wales, the company operatives were recently permitted to travel out of the area and the first post-lockdown installation was completed at St Anne’s RC Church in Margate.
‘We were delighted to be the preferred supplier for St Anne’s,’ said Tony. ‘The chosen instrument was our magnificent Envoy 35F in real oak with seven channels of audio and featuring our new infrasonic Subwoofer system. This was a long-term rental with the option to convert to our exclusive Rent-to-Own Scheme at the end of the rental period.’
Play Now Pay Late provides a unique interest-free one or two-year plan for a home practice organ and avoids the full initial outlay for a new instrument.
‘We also offer this plan for churches and educational settings,’ said Tony. ‘Queen Anne’s School in Caversham recently took advantage of this offer.’
Viscount’s most popular instruments, the Chorum 40 S and the Envoy 23 S, are available from as little £189.00 per month. The plan cost is exactly the same as if purchased outright and the company can also provide a customised plan to meet personal requirements.
Click here for more details.
Viscount Organs (Wales) will be exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 October 202, Sandown Park, Surrey)
It’s full steam ahead for the first CRE National for two years (Oct 12-14).
‘As each week goes by, we become more and more confident that we will once again welcome our valued exhibitors and visitors through the doors of Sandown Park,’ said CRE event director Brett Pitchfork. ‘While meetings via Zoom have been essential over the past 12 months, face to face beats mouse to mouse – every time!’
Aware that some form of social distancing may still be necessary in the autumn, part of the exhibition has been moved from the main Surrey Hall to the Esher Hall below – allowing the creation of wider aisles in both halls and a one-way system. Other safety measures will depend on Government stipulations at the time*.
The pandemic has changed the agenda, so careful consideration has been given to several new features at CRE National, to help local churches in a post-Covid world. These include:
Church Digital – With live online services and social media now a regular part of local church life, this special feature will help you move your communication strategy to the next level.
Church Resilient – Your church income may have taken a serious hit in the past 12 months but expert financial advice will be at hand from several specialist exhibitors.
Church Universal – In the midst of the pandemic, issues of race and equality have come to the fore. A panel of experts will help us work through what it all means at local church level.
Church Tomorrow – With mental health now a major issue among young people, a stream of seminars will focus on the special needs of the next generation.
Church Worshipful – Whether your tradition is contemporary or traditional, enjoy a day conference from Mission Worship to bless, revive and encourage.
‘We are grateful to many friends who have prayed for us over the past 12 months,’ said CRE owner and MD Steve Goddard. ‘Our prayer is that, as we look back, we will see how a greater good has come from these extraordinary days and that thousands of churches played a strategic role in bringing renewed hope and healing to their communities.’
* These may include hand sanitisers, decontaminating spray, protective screens at visitor registration, messaging reminders and socially-distanced seminar rooms, toilets and breakout areas.
Enjoy some of the funniest online service ‘fails’ and send Ship of Fools your favourite entries for the Streaming with Laughter poll
Ever since the hapless Revd Stephen Beach of St Budeaux, Plymouth, got a bit too close to some candles and set his jumper alight – ‘Oh dear! I’ve just caught fire!’ – churches around the world have been posting spectacular streaming service fails during lockdown.
Now Ship of Fools, the online community and magazine, is putting out a call for the funniest online church gaffes, which they will run in a readers’ poll later this year – to discover the best ‘Streaming with Laughter’ moment. Nominate your favourite online church clip here!
‘It’s been wonderful to see how willing local churches have been to embrace online church during a very difficult year,’ says Simon Jenkins, editor of Ship of Fools. ‘Despite some embarrassing and downright hilarious moments, church leaders have been willing to take risks, make mistakes, and then post them online for the rest of us to enjoy. We want to celebrate that.’
Some of the best examples sent in to Ship of Fools so far include a tree falling onto a worship group drummer, who heroically battles the foliage to continue playing, and a Catholic priest who forgets to turn off the augmentation filters on his Facebook livestream during Mass. As a result, online worshippers see him continue to lead the service wearing, in turn, a cartoon pink moustache, a cat mask, and a pair of sunglasses.
‘Our current print edition of CRE News (viewable here) offers several pages of useful advice on avoiding such calamities,’ says CRE owner and MD Steve Goddard. ‘And at CRE National in October (12-14) our special Church Digital feature will help churches go to the next level in learning how to broadcast their services effectively. However, with so many outsiders still, wrongly, viewing the church as po-faced, it’s good to show how we are also happy to laugh at our misfortunes.’
If you’ve seen an online church service fail you’d like to nominate for the ‘Streaming with Laughter’ poll, follow this link to Ship of Fools
Many churches do not realise their insurance claims have been potentially invalidated by the pandemic.
So says Russell Hickman, of Access Insurance, who points out how, with church premises not checked as regularly, even a leaky roof can fall foul of the conditions.
‘Few risk management or business continuity plans foresaw the possibility of closing premises for extended periods,’ says Russell, an advisor to churches for the Surrey-based company. ‘Charities in particular have faced the challenge of moving staff and volunteers to remote working.’
Income has also taken a huge hit.
‘Those who put gifts on a plate each Sunday were no longer doing so, but additional investment has been needed to put services online,’ said Russell.
The majority of standard policies exclude any cover for Covid-19 related expenses or lost income. However the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has tested some policies in court to obtain a ruling on whether any cover exists and at least one church insurer is considering Covid-19 claims following a recent court ruling.
The case is based around extensions to the business interruption cover which traditionally covered losses stemming from damage at the premises insured, resulting in extra costs being incurred or loss of income as activity ceased. Over the years insurers have added non-damage extensions to the wordings to cover situations where, for example, the insured party could not access the premises for a variety of reasons, some of which included an outbreak of an infectious disease in the locality. Some insurers clearly define which diseases they cover, others are more ambiguous.
The FCA argued that the pandemic lockdown orders and the reluctance of people to continue in economic activity are ‘one indivisible cause’. The court passed a judgement, ruling that some policies did cover losses arising from the pandemic. A number of insurers appealed, but the Supreme Court ruled in favour of policyholders, ordering some insurers with ambiguous wordings to pay claims.
The ruling is unlikely to affect many non-profit organisations as several of the large specialist charity insurers had clear wordings, and the courts ruled they were not liable for Covid-19 business interruption losses.
Some charities were aware of the extent and limitations of their cover but a significant number believed they would be covered for Covid-19 related losses and expenses under their business interruption cover. While it was possible to purchase standalone ‘pandemic insurance’ before Covid-19, these policies were prohibitively expensive for most organisations and very few of these policies exist – cover for Wimbledon Tennis is one such example.
In addition, there is usually limited cover under business interruption policies for losses which do not arise from a defined peril (insured risk) like ‘damage to property’, i.e. having to use another office following fire damage to your own premises.
Aside from any contractual obligations, a group of insurers have donated over £80 million to a Covid-19 Support Fund, designed to assist community-based charities and those supporting the most vulnerable in society. The fund is being administered by a network of larger funding charities including the National Emergencies Trust. Insurers have generally been willing to be more flexible than normal with contract terms and obligations because of the pandemic and lockdowns/ tier system. Many insurers have waived or relaxed stringent policy conditions which would normally apply to buildings which become unoccupied for example.
Insurers are taking different stances on liability cover as policies are renewed, with some adding blanket Covid-19 exclusions and others making no amendments. In the main, larger charities are reviewing costs and seeking leaner insurance programmes which provide the essential cover they need, without some of the optional covers they might have opted to purchase before the pandemic. Key information which determines the cost of a policy should be shared with insurers as soon as possible. This includes projected income and wage roll figures and any change in activities.
Having a remote workforce means charities will want to review the insurance they have for office equipment, possibly widening the cover to include risks such as theft of laptops from employees’ homes. Similarly, if their insurance covers the running of the events and the hiring in of equipment. they will want to review whether the event will proceed and whether cover is required.
Access Insurance works with over 15,000 churches and charities to understand their unique risks and build specific policies – so organisations only pay for the cover they need. Access is willing to offer advice to churches and charities struggling to understand their position and they are invited to contact Russell Hickman for advice and support.
Access are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey) and CRE South West (23-24 Feb 2022, Westpoint, Exeter)
While your church’s income may have taken a hit, the pandemic has provided you with a timely opportunity to give clear, direct talking on fundraising to members and supporters, say Action Planning.
‘If you are planning an appeal to pay for an improvement, or are already involved in such an initiative, you might now be asking if it has any meaning in the context of the pandemic,’ said Sean Tully, Action Planning’s lead associate for church capital fundraising. ‘Or you might be asking if this is the ideal time to push ahead with a capital appeal at all.’
With more than three decades of experience in helping not-for-profit organisations, Action Planning are taking the past 12 months into account when advising on major projects.
‘We have the privilege of talking on a weekly basis with churches the length and breadth of Britain,’ said Sean. ‘From the rural village church looking to install toilets and a kitchen, to the inner-city church completely rebuilding its premises to include housing accommodation and community facilities – and everything in between – we can help.
‘Our team of experienced, Christian fundraisers understand how you are feeling. We have walked the journey that you are on, or something very similar, and have learned the importance of “Committing to the Lord whatever you do, [so that] he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). Above all, we understand that the one thing every church capital appeal has is a community of faith, of place and, as the last 12 months have shown, of hope.’
Contact Action Planning to arrange a free, no-obligation chat about your project.
Action Planning are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey)
Your morning service is about to begin and the technologically-literate person who operates the AV equipment is not available – what do you do?
Andy Pidsley, managing director of APi Sound and Visual, believes the end user is the most ignored factor in most installations – but arguably the most important.
‘No matter the quality of the equipment, everything hinges on whether your users know how to operate it properly,’ explains Andy. ‘It is important to find out who is available to form a small team operating the AV.’
Often there is someone who has a greater understanding of what is required.
‘We call them Super Users – great to have around when things go wrong!’ says Andy. ‘However, I suggest your system is designed around the average level of ability so everyone is comfortable operating it. If your Super User is unavailable, you won’t be left floundering.’
Nowadays there are some great products that allow you to achieve great sound and images and still keep the user interface really simple. Many also automatically reset to the default settings so you never get caught out if changes have been made by previous users.
‘A crucial part to our installations is a thorough handover with training and full after-sales support,’ said Andy, ‘so that all users feel confident using the system. Because of APi Sound and Visual’s many years of experience and technical know-how we can look at your project and tailor it to completely suit your church – and most importantly, your users.’
Click here for more information
APi are exhibiting at CRE National (12-14 October 2021, Sandown Park, Surrey) and CRE South West (23-24 Feb 2022, Westpoint, Exeter)