The Good News Centre has its’ humble origins back in the 1960s. It began as a small bookstall at the youth club at Glebe Chapel. Little did anyone expect that it would grow into the centre it is today! In 1974, it’s ever increasing size meant that a bookshop was opened in the front room of a house in Church Street, Newent for a few weeks before Christmas. This was repeated again in 1975. This encouraging progression came at a time of growing vision for a permanent shop in the town of Newent.
In November 1976 the Centre moved to a shop in Broad Street for a 6 month period, prior to the premises’ demolition. It was at this point that the “Good News Centre” was adopted as the name of the project.
Whilst this pilot venture was running, the search for a permanent base continued. With much prayer and consideration, a decision was reached in May 1977 to move to the Parish Rooms. The property was in a considerable state of disrepair. So much so that upon an earlier initial viewing, it had been judged too big a task for us to handle. However after 6 months of searching, nothing more suitable had come on the market so we felt that perhaps God wanted us to take another look at the Parish Rooms. We did so and felt that it was right that we make an offer. Despite competition from another buyer, the rooms were purchased for the only and final offer of £10,000 (the asking price had been £11,000).
Over the next two years a huge amount of work had to be done and most of it was done by voluntary labour. Supervision and assistance was provided by three Christian architects – a wonderful blessing. There was much demolition of the old and re-designing for the new. The building itself was of 16th century origins, with it’s striking wooden beams. It had been further extended in the 18th century, making it a building of considerable history.
It was very much hoped that the new Good News Centre would have opened some time in 1979. However due to unforeseen and frustrating delays, this target was not reached. Finally the long awaited opening became a reality on Saturday 22nd March 1980. A total of over £22,000 had been received in answer to the many prayers of God’s people. All staff in the early years did not receive a salary but simply relied upon the Lord to supply all their needs. This undoubtedly was a major factor in enabling the Centre to develop and become established.
It was with real thankfulness to God that our original objectives for the building were achieved in 1990. The coffee house, kitchen and car park were extended in 1985. The upstairs sale floor was opened in 1986 by the renowned author Miss Patricia St John. In 1989 the rooms above the bookshop were converted into flats. Finally a new roof was provided in 1990, with over £100,000 in gifts.
The last 20 years have seen the continued upkeep and refurbishment of the premises. In 2004 a proposed extension failed to receive planning permission despite an appeal, leaving us disappointed. However with hindsight, we can see this to been a blessing in disguise. The effects of the “credit crunch”, along with the impact of the internet on bookshop sales, mean that an extension would simply not have made financial sense. As we had not made a profit for several years we have come to understand that it was not God’s timing for us to expand.
Currently we are endeavouring to restructure the business to bring it back to profitability, We are very encouraged by our present team of workers who are doing their best to achieve this with some success. Our main objectives for the future have not changed. Our desire is that the Good News Centre will always be of benefit to the local community and visitors from further afield, and also be a place that brings glory to God. In a world often dominated by bad news, our aim is to be a place where the emphasis is placed on GOOD NEWS. We endeavour to provide a friendly, helpful service in a relaxed atmosphere, where people can meet and also obtain good Christian literature.