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Business plan for Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room for the United Kingdom


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Introduction and background The activity of the Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room UK is a continuation and development of Joint Reading Room activity which extends over the past 15 years. For much of this time the activity has been the sharing and display of Christian Science literature and lectures at national exhibitions and events. In 2012 the focus shifted to the provision of a jointly maintained Christian Science Reading Room in Stratford, London to coincide with the Olympics and Paralympics. The Reading Room was situated in close proximity to the Olympic Park, at InShops in the Stratford Centre, itself close to the Stratford station, and opened in June for three months, closing at the end of September. In December 2012 the committee worked with a number of branch churches to provide and promote a series of Christian Science lectures in the Stratford area. In future, further activities will be considered that reflect the wishes of the UK CS field, building on previous achievements. Since January 2013 a number of Christian Scientists having been reading the Bible lesson together in Stratford. The CS Reading Room, Stratford and its associated website were listed in The Christian Science Journal in August and September 2012. An integral part of this Olympic initiative included an online CS Reading Room site which was created and linked to the above site during these months. When the ‘Olympic Reading Room’ closed, the site was taken offline for further development. This gave time for the committee to consult with branch churches and societies in the UK, as well as with the Christian Science Publishing Society, on the possibility of re-launching the site as an online UK CS Reading Room. This would then act as a legacy activity of the successful Stratford Reading Room project. As a result of these discussions, the committee of the United Christian Science Reading Room (South East England) is currently making a number of changes to its governing document and proposing a name change to Joint Christian Science Reading Room UK. These changes, which are supported by The Mother Church, have also to be approved by the Charity Commission and the committee itself at a general meeting made up of representatives of supporting branch churches and societies. This newly-developed jointly maintained UK Online CS Reading Room is envisaged as a hub of Reading Room activity in the UK, bringing together various website and providing all the services a physical reading room can but with the exciting advantage of being available 24/7 from homes, within churches and on mobile devices. It is not a substitute for individual CS Reading Rooms provided by branch churches and CS Societies nor have a monopoly on online CS Reading Room activity.


Business plan for Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room for the United Kingdom


Manual base The Jointly Maintained Online Christian Science Reading Room activity is based on the provisions of the Christian Science Church Manual Article XXI Reading Rooms. ‘Establishment. Section 1. Each church of the Christian Science denomination shall have a Reading Room, though two or more churches may unite in having Reading Rooms, provided these rooms are well located’. The need for such a facility is seen as a response to three key issues: 1 There is a decreasing emphasis on the high street as the centre of retail sales and public contact. This is one result of the huge increase in internet sales. With the growing popularity of equipment such as iPads and iPhones the first port of call for information and purchasing is often a PC, tablet or smartphone, particularly for most young people. 2 There are fewer Christian Science Reading Rooms in the UK than there have been in past years. 3 Those Christian Science Reading Rooms that remain are often only open for a small number of hours per week, meaning that accessibility to the public and for the casual passer-by is limited. An online CS Reading Room can provide many of the facilities that an actual Reading Room can offer and remain accessible to anyone at any time of the day or night. The UK Christian Science movement has a number of websites. Most of these advertise an individual church/society, and a few offer some limited Reading Room functions, the online Christian Science Reading Room aims to complement these websites. The function of the online Reading Room is not to compete but to act as a portal, complementing the churches/societies existing sites with full Reading Room facilities. It is therefore a way of churches pooling their efforts to meet a vast percentage of the UK population. The current US based web sites provide a solid foundation for Christian Science on the internet and although the web is a global medium there is clear evidence that people still like to feel they are dealing with individuals or organisations which are geographically local. This also applies when buying and selling, particularly as the preference is to use the customers’ currency and supply from local sources.

Business plan for Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room for the United Kingdom



Operation and management The Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room UK is managed and run by a committee representing Christian Science churches and societies in the United Kingdom. It is a registered charity under UK law and governed by a constitution that is based on support and representation from UK CS branch churches and societies. The activity is managed by a committee appointed by branch churches and societies and its officers (Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer) are elected at general meetings to which all churches and societies are invited. The committee maintains regular contact with the Christian Science field through mailings, emails and its web site. The staffing of the UK Online CSRR will consist of paid individuals and volunteers. The staffing will consist of: 1 Librarian – a paid, part time position Main tasks: Monitor the site, manage sales, co-ordinate response to enquiries, oversee promotion of site 2 Assistant librarian – one or more, as needed 3 Volunteer participants - complete orders and staff the online chat facility 4 Web master

3.1  Appointment of librarian The librarian or librarians will be appointed by the Joint Christian Science Reading Room committee, who are acting on behalf of the member Christian Science churches and societies. The committee may delegate the recruitment process to one or more members, but is required to ratify each appointment at a committee meeting and to notify its member churches and societies of the appointment. The librarian or librarians will be members of The Mother Church and a recognised Christian Science branch church or society. However their branch church does not have to be a contributing member of the committee in order for the individual to qualify for this role. The position of librarian and deputies (if required) will be advertised by the following means: 1 Letters or emails to the member churches/societies 2 Letters or emails to the Joint Christian Science Reading Room email list 3 Notices on the Joint Christian Science Reading Room Yahoo group and also on the UK CS RR Yahoo group 4 Any other appropriate medium (eg social networking via Facebook or other suitable web sites) The librarian(s) and other staff may be volunteers or paid. The level of pay will be set by the committee in line with the annual committee budget circulated to the churches. The work may be full or part time depending on the needs of the role.


Business plan for Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room for the United Kingdom

3.2  Duties of librarian Main duties of the librarian will be: • Manage team supporting the online RR, including rotas etc • Work with the web master to keep site current and updated with new material • Liaise with Christian Science Publishing Society and order stock from CSPS • Determine prices for products • Arrange offers and promotions • Receive orders and enquiries • Supervise order fulfilment • Manage chat function and enquiries from the public and co-ordinate the team handling public enquiries • Delegate implementation of tasks to other team members, as appropriate • Participate in CS UK RR Yahoo group • Report to UK Christian Science field through Joint Christian Science Reading Room committee • Co-ordinate online events and liaise with sponsoring churches for lectures • Creating and maintaining a Facebook profile for the online Reading Room • Manage finances of the UK online CS Reading Room in association with the treasurer

3.3  Handling of orders Orders will be received electronically by the librarian or a delegated team member. Initially, orders will be fulfilled by the librarian, deputy or volunteers in accord with the procedure established by the web developers. The stock will be provided from existing material owned by United Christian Science Reading Room (South East England) held in the Christian Science church in Maidenhead. In addition to holding its own stock, the online CS RR will also invite support from the UK CSRR Yahoo group to source stock of ‘out of stock’ and even ‘out of print’ items. As demand develops the committee has the right to approve the sub-contracting of order fulfilment to a specialist company and to agree the charges for this service.

3.4  Responding to enquiries The online Christian Science Reading Room site includes a chat function which aims to attract enquiries from the public. The aim is for a team of volunteers to cover this function on a rota basis. The team will be led by the librarian.

Business plan for Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room for the United Kingdom



Web sites for churches The committee plans to offer Christian Science churches and societies in the UK the option of having their own online RR home page hosted on the online RR server. This page will link to the pages of the main online RR site and orders and enquiries will be handled by the librarian and support team. The aim is that commission from sales will be split between the branch church or society sponsoring the individual home page and the online CS RR itself. Churches and societies would be under no obligation to use the services offered by the joint Reading Room committee.


Promoting the online Christian Science Reading Room We propose creating a marketing programme for the online Christian Science Reading Room using paid advertising online services such as Google and Facebook, and also other facilities including poster, leaflets/cards and materials for distribution to UK churches and societies and other appropriate organisations for use in their own local advertising campaigns.


Content, Special Events and Activities The general content of the site will include information about ‘What is Christian Science?’ the historical background of Christian Science and its founder Mary Baker Eddy. There will be additional links to TMC sites and some unique content (approved by TMC). The site will also contain official broadcasts from TMC e.g. YouTube content (Lives Lived), links to JSH online articles (subject to approval) and Annual Meeting, quotes and discussions from the weeks Bible lesson, Links to the Daily Lift and GoVerse. There will also be access to purchasing CS books, literature, and music, with featured articles to read (subject to approval), all sold in pound sterling and fulfilled by the librarian and staff. In addition to the general content, we aim to provide a series of special events online. These will include short and full length lectures given as part of Joint Christian Science Reading Room events, such as the public talks on Christian Science held at the Reading Room Stratford during the Olympics and Paralympics. Lectures are sponsored by Christian Science churches and societies across the UK and organised in accordance with the Church Manual Articles XXXI and XXXII. Possible further activities include accessible readings from Christian Science children’s books and Bible stories, (subject to the necessary consents) as well as webinars given by Christian Science speakers on issues which are important and newsworthy. The committee are currently exploring the opportunities for ‘live streaming’ some of these events as well as hosting recordings. Local UK content supporting the main CS Reading Room activity will include: 1 A UK directory of Christian Science churches and Societies including Reading Rooms and notice of forthcoming events (see item 2). This is linked to advertising on supporting by many UK CS churches (see


Business plan for Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room for the United Kingdom

2 Up-coming church-sponsored lectures and individual events from church/societies such as Bible work shops open forums (of the sort already taking place in several branch churches) and links to appropriate interfaith activities. 3 Church alive news and calls (with links to the church alive web site) 4 General fruitage from the UK Reading Rooms and features highlighting individual CS Reading Rooms and their activities. 5 News and information about Christian Science Nursing homes and facilities 6 Links to blogs from UK COP’s and topical articles supporting the leavening effect of the Christ in our society. 7 Reports, photographic images and videos from the field, such as Mind, Body, Spirit shows, local events such as University Fresher’s Fairs, youth events such as Summits, Easter Camp, Focus, COP events and CS music recitals.


Budget and costs By virtue of its pioneering nature, it is impossible to anticipate the level of activity and sales that the online Christian Science Reading Room will achieve in its first years. The main objective of the activity is to support keeping Christian Science in the public eye and promoting a ‘Church Alive’. There is huge scope to develop the concept and with that in mind we propose a three year trial period. Most of the development costs have been covered by the Olympic Reading Room activity budget as included in the original proposals circulated from 2011 onwards. We hope that the site will be widely supported by the Christian Science field and as awareness grows so will usage. Our budget estimates for the next three years: Joint Christian Science Reading Room UK - online activity Activity

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

EXPENDITURE Staffing, fees, wages and volunteers expenses Web development and maintenance Events and activities - inc live streaming talks and videos Stock purchase and mailing costs Marketing & promotion Misc/Contingency Total

£14,500 £5,500 £12,000 £3,000 £10,000 £5,000 £50,000

£15,000 £5,000 £15,000 £4,000 £10,000 £5,000 £54,000

£15,000 £10,000 £15,000 £5,000 £10,000 £5,000 £60,000

INCOME Sales - literature, books etc (inc P&P) Church donations & subscriptions Grants/donations from other funds Total

£2,000 £20,000 £15,000 £37,000

£3,500 £22,000 £20,000 £45,500

£5,000 £30,000 £20,000 £55,000

Excess of income over expenditure




Business plan for Joint Online Christian Science Reading Room for the United Kingdom



Admin and financial controls The Treasurer is responsible for the overall financial controls of the committee. The accounts are audited annually in accordance with UK charity law and lodged with the Charity Commission. A monthly financial statement is provided to the committee by the treasurer and an annual budget is prepared against which this can be compared. A separate bank account is being created for the online Reading Room activity and this will be managed jointly by the Treasurer and the Librarian. All payments are authorised by the Treasurer and Chairman and reported to the committee via the monthly financial statement. Two signatories are to authorise payments whether they are made by cheque or online. According to UK charity law the trading activity of the Joint Reading Room can be managed within the present structure. However, if sales approaches £50,000 per year then a separate trading company must be established.

9 Conclusion The Joint Christian Science Reading Room UK is very much hoping that the UK Christian Science field shares its excitement over the UK Online CS Reading Room activity which it feels very much follows the spirit of Church Alive and is motivated by ‘love for God and man’ (Science and Health page 454).

Joint Christian Science Reading Room UK c/o First Church of Christ, Scientist, Reading 52-54 King’s Road, Reading RG1 3AA
 Tel: 0118 959 0532 email: 
 charity number 1143776

Joint csrr busplan final june 2013  
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