Monday, 18 November 2013

Because He gives, we give too

Christmas is the time for giving. We all know that. And as booksellers, publishers and authors we hope that people will buy their gifts from us, or that what we’ve written or published will form a book-shaped bulge in someone’s stocking or a glitter – wrapped gift under the tree.

Christmas is a time for giving. Giving money for good causes … we’ve just had the razzle dazzle of Children in Need and the generosity of British public was even greater than last year, in spite these times of worry about bills and jobs. That is all done on a grand scale of course. But what can the individuals in the Christian book trade do, with their limitations of staff, facilities and size, to demonstrate to those who’ve never understood it, that God gave the Greatest Gift of all?

The Corner Stone Bookshop in Cirencester is well situated to meet people right where they are. It has a wonderful facade, bow windows looking out onto Dollar Street, a few minutes walk from the Market Square. It forms part of the ministry of Cirencester Parish Church, which has one of the largest buildings for a parish church in England.

Housed in a building that is 350 years old, they serve delicious coffee and home made cakes, and they had an interesting experience one year when they gave something away. 

Every fortnight there is a Farmer’s Market right outside the church, and one Christmas, the team gave away mince pies to stall holders and shoppers alike. A small enough thing you might think. But people were amazed that the church was giving something away rather than asking for something.One stall holder, who hadn’t been to a service of any sort since he was at Eton,  was so impressed, that he decided that he needed to discover more about a church that wanted to give to him. He began to attend the church and now is a church warden, his attitude completely changed about faith and God.

There are other ways in which The Corner Stone gives to the people who visit the shop. When stock has been around for a while, manager Lynne Doolan draws people’s attention to these books by regularly offering some titles at reduced prices rather than using the 'sale or return' option with the publishers. When the bible reading notes are out of date she makes them available free to people who want to ‘taste and see’ whether they might be the notes that would help them on their faith journey.

I enjoyed my visit to Lynne and her team. Delicious cakes, an opportunity to sign books and a real vision to meet the needs of both the locals and the thousands of tourists who visit this lovely Cotswold town every year.

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