12 August 2021 | Grantham, UK [David Neal, tedNEWS]
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 Marshall1 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’.2
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 eighteen 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, 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 Clutton. De Jesus, 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 Selvage 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 Selvage going is also his great sense of humour (you only need to see the cartoon on his office noticeboard)! Anderson 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 them 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 year and a half. “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 Elisabeth Sangüesa, the company’s managing director. “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, Sangüesa 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!”
“Over 100 years ago Ellen G White encouraged members to spread literature like leaves of autumn. Stanborough Press has been an essential part of fulfilling that admonition in the British Isles and beyond, and it continues to do so,” comments Audrey Andersson, newly elected Publishing Ministries director at the Trans-European Division. “Elisabeth Sangüesa and her team are to be commended for the enormous efforts they have made during the pandemic to keep the Press open and serving the Church. As things open up following the pandemic, we look forward to seeing how the Lord will continue to lead, bless and provide new opportunities,” Andersson concludes.
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.
Stanborough Press will have its virtual Open day on 5 September 2021. For more information, visit lifesourcebookshop.co.uk.
1 David Marshall was an editor at Stanborough Press Ltd. from 1979-2010)
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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