On Wednesday 8th June 2022, I was very pleased to attend the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) centenary service of thanksgiving at Dorchester Abbey in Oxfordshire. I was accompanied by my wife, Margot, and JRI Chair, Rev Dr. Dave Gregory also attended. The service was led by Bishop Colin Fletcher, who was formerly Bishop of Dorchester, and is Chair of the BRF trustees. Many of the BRF staff took part in the service, quite a number of whom we knew from our publishing work with them. The address was given by Canon Dr Christina Baxter, the Vice-Chair of BRF trustees. In that talk, she highlighted the various BRF ministries, from Bible reading notes to Messy Church and Anna Chaplaincy. BRF is very much more than a publishing house nowadays. A special presentation was made to Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church, who has left BRF after 18 years. After the service, we had drinks and a very nice garden party in the Abbey grounds. It was great to be there with so many other authors and friends.
Over the last ten years, JRI people have become increasingly involved in BRF projects. Margot and I published two books with BRF. A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues first appeared in 2015 (2nd edition 2021) and a collection of our Bible reflections, Green Reflections came out in 2021. Our latest series of Bible reflections “A Wing and a Prayer” concerns Biblical birds and was published in May/August 2022. We are currently writing a series on Isaiah 1-11.
Meanwhile, even before he joined the JRI Board, Dave Gregory was heavily involved in Messy Church does Science, starring as “Dr. Dave”. Then BRF decided to green Messy Church, and to take it outside the church building. So we got involved in the Messy Church Goes Wild project. In 2022, Messy Church Goes Wild: Caring for the world we live in was published with one of the chapters written by Dave Gregory. The latest Messy project is Messy Adventures, for which a whole lot of JRI folk acted as advisers and writers. The online versions of that resource should be available this summer, with the paper version due in 2023.
BRF first published Time to Change, by Bishop Hugh Montefiore, some 25 years ago, their first book looking at Christian responses to the environmental crisis. In 1997, that book was not seen as a great success, but it was undoubtedly well ahead of its time. Now the whole topic has risen in both the secular world and in Christian circles. We in JRI are very happy to be partnering with BRF on a whole variety of projects, and there will definitely be more to come!
So happy birthday BRF! And best wishes for the next 100 years. I rather suspect that the environment will continue to rise in importance and that we will be doing quite a lot together. Let’s hope so!
Dr Martin Hodson (JRI Operations Director)