Advent Project – An extraordinary story…

Ordinary people, in an ordinary place… an extraordinary story…

A few years back, I helped produce a project that portrayed people from a local village, relating them to characters in ‘The Christmas Story’.

‘Ordinary’ people in their ‘ordinary’ place – we are perhaps all part of an ‘extraordinary’ story. 

Recently, Jill Marsh the District Mission Enabler for Northampton Methodist District commented on the project and suggested we might help produce similar for others. It’s a simple idea that could perhaps resonate in YOUR community…

A local church chose nine nativity characters and nine corresponding pictures of people from their village life. You can see the original project here: Ordinary People. The project was printed as posters and displayed in a local shop window for shoppers and passers by to see. 

You could do similar in your community!

If you like the idea, I’d be happy to artwork and supply graphic poster images for you*. I can arrange cost-effective printing and delivery of A2 posters for you to display, and/or supply your images for online social/media use. *For a small donation to cover my time.

Using your images of the people around your community, it perhaps could help people think about what the nativity story means today. 

All you’d need to supply is nine quality images with captions, (it’s important to obtain consent for them to be used), and supply any local / logo and details etc. 

Images used previously were:

  • ‘Guiding Star’ – Guiding eg. a crossing patrol person
  • ‘Choir of Angels’ – Singing eg. playgroup school class
  • ‘Shepherds’ – Working eg. work men/women
  • ‘Mary’ – Expecting eg. mother to be
  • ‘Magi’ – Bringing eg. visitors
  • ‘Bethlehem’ – Waiting eg. village sign population
  • ‘Census Officials’ – Organising eg. parish council officers
  • ‘Inn Keeper’ – Hosting eg. barman/lady
  • ‘Angel Gabriel’ – Messenger eg. post-person

Let me know if you are interested, and if I can help. Contact me here Jules Richards 


Or do it all yourself…


Street Signage…

SMCABoardSignsVisualAnother job delivered this week…

The new HUB Café space in Syston, and the Methodist Church needed some new large format street signage – ‘all are welcome’, ‘open’, ‘come on in’ etc.


A selection of signage, from invites to the ‘OPEN’ cafe to call to worship on Sundays and the weekday communion:

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If I can help you with similar just shout! @julesprichards



Glass door designs

BristalDoorsDove Another job I’ve completed recently, for a local church building in Birstall.

Birstall Methodist Church had new doors were fitted in the refurbished entrance hall and it was suggested they needed something to break the space up.

It needed some element on the glass for safety reasons – so people didn’t walk through them. But it also needed something to break the line of sight through them, so a congregation aren’t distracted by activity on t’other side. To, as I say, ‘break up the space’ or soften the oblongs.

Here are the blank fitted doors:

Blank fitted doors
Blank fitted doors


Various designs were considered. At first, a selection of overtly biblical designs were entertained, but rightly the signification of such icons and themes needed to be considered. Also, words and word-patterns were considered, but again this did not seem right – too significant. It was agreed that a more generic design was needed.

Some initial very busy proposals were toned down and eventually this simpler yet still hopefully strong and warm design was agreed.

The aim of my design is to evoke the flow of the feeling, the sense, the wisdom, ‘the spirit’.  The flow of the energy of a living faith in something bigger than all of us. The simple universal symbol of peace is included, shown as the fruit of the flowing spirit, the fruit of a living faith in a bigger better thing.

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My designs were expertly cut and fitted by Steve and his team at local Birstall signmakers Sign Wizards

If you’d like me to work on anything like this for you, just give me a shout.


It was lovely to see you today…

It was lovely to see you, we’d love to stay in touch…

I was asked by a local church to produce some notes for people to fill in, with a view to keeping details of new visitors and comments etc.

My thinking was, to make the most of the exchange, why not leave something with the recipients after they have returned their comments/details…

My result is an A6 card for the recipient’s to fill in and return, with a perforated tear-off element for them to keep, containing contact details etc for the church, and an inspirational image to pop on the fridge or shelf.

You are beautiful...
You are beautiful…

If you would like this artwork to use yourselves, please credit me as the originator but feel free to take and adapt the artwork that can be downloaded from here:

Simply contact me with a note of thanks. Ta.

If you’d like me to work on anything like this for you, just give me a shout.


Youth Cafe Material

A small project that I’ve been involved with is Syston Methodist Church’s Youth Cafe.

I have devised an initial “Syston Youth Cafe” logo and visual identity. I’ve designed and produced some simple fundraising leaflets and complied a basic web presence.




Some of my other voluntary work can be seen here: print


Churches …becoming community problem solvers (?)

Looking at this article “…libraries are becoming community problem solvers” in The Guardian (sorry) from the ALA’s Larra Clark

…and simply (?) substituting “Church” for “Library”

Developing Churches as community hubs and problem-solving partners is a top priority…

…conferences show that Churches are evolving in this role as well.

We must fundamentally change how we view Churches and move from a historical idea of Churches as merely Churches, to seeing them as an opportunity for proactive community engagement.

the Churches is successfully connecting the most… networking, supporting, enabling

…demonstrates that Churches can be powerful players in supporting the…

…believes that Churches can be community problem-solvers, helping us to fully use our spaces, our people, and our resources. Or, to put it another way: “What can’t Churches do?”

…they are turning to their Churches for help…

Similarly, Churches quickly stepped up during the recession to help assisting those seeking …

Churches also have a vital role to play in education? and learning? starting with helping every child…

Adults tell us that their top priority for Churches is that they should co-ordinate closely with schools and support young children.

A report on the future of Churches and teens puts it this way: Churches used to be grocery stores; now we need to be kitchens and our Churches are adding new ingredients to best serve readers.

We must look to the larger ecosystem that includes? to find answers.

The technology revolution… There is a pressing need for us to reach out, network and figure out where Churches might best contribute. We should expect more – not less – from our Churches in the digital age… But this won’t happen in isolation, and it won’t happen without keeping Churches open and connected to our community partners.

…. discuss ?



Quality beer and nuts…

fuzzineszEverything and anything, the whole wide world, at the touch of a button! brillyunt!?

I recently saw a post about a small church (remember them?) in north London. The local library(remember them?) and community centre was threatened by budget cuts and the church was discussing plans to offer space for a new library in their new church development.

Like many small towns, the population there is growing and more facilities, are needed – not fewer.  As might be expected, the church is looking to increase its “community involvement”.   Community Centres, Libraries, Churches, Health Centres and the like, are vital places where people have traditionally found information, help, succour and strength.  These places have in the past been vital assets for community integration and interaction.

All that happy-clapping, rainbow guitar straps, hearty singing, and WWYD stickers etc came later.   I’m told that originally “churches” (or synagogues in bible daze) were central places in communities where families (remember them?) might help each other, where widows, orphans, strangers etc might be ‘looked out for’.  The church would administer and manage support and help for those in need.  Over the last 100 years the government took over looking after the community’s heath, education, and wellbeing.  What was the church to do?  Sing another hymn? Also note that back in the day, “families” were not the 2 adults & 2.4 children of today (or even the growing 1 & 1.2 of contemporary life) – The fully functioning “family” was the grandparents, parents, bob’s ur uncle, aunties, brothers, sisters etc.

But now, you can get everything and anything at the touch of a button?

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  King James Bible. or “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” The Message Mark 8:36

Yes we can and do get ‘loads of stuff’ all online…   or you can get everything at the uber-store… indeed you must get everything… ‘cos “every little helps” and “mum’s gone there”…

However it might be my age, and yes the Aldile’s do have some great deals but…

If I want a quality, value for money, bit of beef (and a chat) I go to the butchers…
If I want quality, value for money, fruit & veg (and a chat) I go to the green grocers…
If I want to browse for quality (and value for money!?) brain fodder (and a chat) I might go to the library…
If I want quality beer and nuts (and more importantly a chat) one might go to the pub…
If I want quality insight and support of well-being (and more importantly a chat) one might go to a church…

Real people, real places, and real life!?


What if Immanuel? Ordinary people, ordinary place, extraordinary story

(There's a new 2020 post click here with a free to download do-it-yourself template!)

2011 – I’ve produced some artwork recently for a project portraying people from a local village in Leicestershire and relating them to characters in ‘The Christmas Story’.
The local church identified 9 nativity characters and 9 corresponding pictures of people from contemporary village life. An interesting piece of creativity!

It’s to be on display in a shop window in Sibson Road in Birstall, for shoppers and passers by. Ordinary people, ordinary place, extraordinary story.

Extraordinary Story

It caused me to ponder various things… the obvious: ‘what if a God was one of us?’
The seasonal: Immanuel, ‘God is with us’?
“The Christmas Story” a curious story that I’m told differs in each gospel account and has had heaps tagged onto it over the years… to the point that I wonder if elves and reindeer were present in the stable? Oh and coke cola and red stuff.
God became man… ? We can wonder at the significance of the prophesied birth. Light and angelic hope…
I dunno…
The project above asks, if it happened today, “where would you (and I) be in it”?

Hummm… I can’t imagine…

I’d like to think that I could sense the majesty and grace of such a prospective happening, but can’t see myself as the chosen host, the visitors, the authorities or the worshippers… but I guess I am still one of the ‘us’.

Immanuel, ‘God is with us’?

Check it out anyway, it’s produced by the Methodist Church in Birstall all credit to Rachel Parkinson and her team. It’s on Sibson Road Birstall – from next week.

Ordinary people, ordinary place, extraordinary story.