How you can help with building a church in & for the community

Why am I supporting a building project?

I know the church is more than a building, but try running almost any sort of business or charity without one. This is a particularly good project. It aims to benefit as many people as possible and to respond to the needs of the 21st Century.

St Paul’s Penketh, Warrington, need about #100,000 to complete a million-pound project. The details are in the item below from the Warrington Guardian.

What if you don’t go to church?

Never mind. The new building will benefit the whole community, providing facilities not available elsewhere.

What if you don’t live in Penketh?

Neither do I, but it’ll benefit people from a wide area.

Please give generously if you can. If you can’t give generously, just give! Here.

What if you’ve no money?

You can help even if you can’t afford to give. Yes you can! Vote for it on the Aviva website – they are inviting the public to choose which projects they are going to support with their charitable giving. What a great idea!

Building Project needs 100,000 POUNDS to open its doors

People in Penketh have been wondering what’s going on in the new building on the site of St Paul’s Church on Warrington Road, Penketh, that was demolished two years ago. The new building will be the St Paul’s Community Church Base. Nothing seems to have been happening since the completion of the work some months ago. Churchwarden, Margaret Bennett explains, “The main building work was completed in June, but there have been items that needed putting right before we could accept the handover and there is still a lot to be done inside.”

Church member, Kieran Layfield, who has been coordinating the project, gave the details. “We still need to put in heating, toilets and other fixtures. We also want to install modern audio-visual equipment to make it suitable for the 21st Century. Some things will be done by our own members, others by contractors.”

The main interior part of the building looks very empty
The main interior part of the building looks very empty

Another question is what have churchgoers been doing since the old church was knocked down. Team Vicar, Sarah Peppiatt, answers, “We have been meeting in the Oaks Centre, in Stocks Lane, but we are looking forward to getting the new building. It will be more flexible, with larger and smaller rooms, and better acoustics and other facilities. We hope people will come to a lot of the events we’ll put on, but we will also make rooms available for groups to use for their own activities.”

The Oaks Centre Manager, Karen Howard, agreed, adding, “We have managed to keep most of our usual activities going for the last couple of years as well as holding church services. When the new building is open we’ll be able to do more at the Oaks and the facilities at the new building will be more suitable for some community activities. It’ll be a win-win all round.”

The outside of the building is complete but the ground around it needs some work
The outside of the building is complete but the ground around it needs some work

The church treasurer, Denis Bamber, summed up the financial position. “This project will cost nearly a million pounds. We have raised over eight hundred thousand already, nearly all from our own members, but we still need over a hundred thousand pounds to finish it properly. Anyone with any money should contact me on 01925 725099 or go to our website” Kieran Layfield added, “If every person in Penketh gave just ten pounds, it would be ‘mission accomplished: job done’ in no time.”

Churchwarden Margaret Bennett completes a routine inspection.
Churchwarden Margaret Bennett completes a routine inspection.

For more information, go to



Are you looking forward to Halloween?

A lot of Christians are not too keen on Halloween.

Why not have fun at Halloween, or any other time? Are we Christians just being killjoys? Or overreacting to something harmless? At this time of year we need an excuse to party, surely. For some, dressing up is part of the fun. Do we just need to lighten up? Oh, no! Forget that. It’s a celebration of darkness, really.

How dark is Halloween?

The origins of Halloween lie in pre-Christian religions and therefore it is a remnant of Paganism. Do you want to invoke the old gods or any supernatural forces? For some that is to take it all far too seriously. For them, it is just dressing up and having fun. Do we have to be so serious about everything? It’s like saying everyone who eats an Easter egg is pledging himself or herself to Christ.

The answer is that God will not impose himself on anyone who does not want him. You have to make a positive decision. The Devil is not so fastidious. Give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.

At Halloween, the Red Dragon, now a symbol of Wales, was once a symbol of spiritual power – but whose?
Is Halloween part of the Occult?

I have written about the Occult previously and will not repeat it all here. I will however warn you. Are you one of the many people who think Halloween is a good time to experiment with ouija boards? Or other ways of contacting the dead? (Or whatever they might contact). I have known people whose lives have been badly damaged as a result of finding the supernatural a lot more real than they ever imagined. They don’t all admit it. It’s a bit like experimenting with drugs. You might think you are in control, until you find that you are not. 

Don’t be intolerant at Halloween.

If Christians can overreact to Halloween, they are not the only ones. Some people get very hostile towards anyone who won’t join in. “Trick or treat” ceases to be fun when it turns into a protection racket. I have known people suffer damage and intimidation because they would not give anything. People who behave intolerantly are taking a step towards evil, whether the Devil exists or not. I have heard of people dressed as clowns deliberately frightening people, especially children. If that’s their idea of Halloween, or of fun, they can keep it.

Whichever side you are on, don’t spoil the fun but don’t score an own goal!

As my next book will contain an element of the supernatural, you may like to read my thoughts on the supernatural in crime fiction in my last blog.




How much happiness can money buy?

I have written several articles about happiness, looking at various factors that can make you happy. Or happier. Or less miserable. What about the thing everyone wants, that we all hope will make us happy: money?


You might expect me to take the view of many Christians, among others, that money cannot buy happiness. Did not Jesus say, ‘money is the root of all evil’ and all that? Well, no! He said,’The love of money is the root of all evil’ which is about our attitudes not our wealth.

The scientific research on this subject is interesting. It shows that poverty reduces happiness. A lot. There is some disagreement as to whether this should mean absolute or relative poverty. I think that at the extreme it is absolute. In other words, being cold, hungry and afraid will make you unhappy even if you are a bit better off than your neighbours. However, being adequately fed, clothed and housed may not be enough if you are being constantly reminded of the lifestyles of the very rich. The media and social media have a lot to answer for. So does the advertising industry.


Another thing the research has shown is that as wealth increases beyond a certain point, happiness does not. Your second million does not make you twice as happy as the first. People keep on chasing money out of a desire to succeed rather than because they actually want to buy more things.

What I am saying is that money is not everything. But it is something.

What victims should we be praying for?

Most people of any sort of faith have been praying for the victims of the terrorist outrage in Manchester.

  • The wounded
  • The bereaved
  • The rescuers
  • The doctors, nurses, care-givers
  • the police and security services

They all need our prayers at this time. And afterwards.

Is there a group I missed?

What about the terrorists? Surely they too are victims. Not only the one who died at the scene. Am I condoning their actions? The very opposite. I find it hard to imagine anyone thinking such an act could serve any god or any human cause.

I want to pray for:

  • Anyone who feels otherwise.
  • Anyone who was involved in any way.
  • Anyone thinking of doing anything similar.
  • Anyone who wants to cheer for the terrorists.

Let us pray not only that they never succeed, but that they may change.

  • May God open their eyes.
  • May they turn away from their path.
  • May they find a better way.

They too are victims. 

People will be walking and praying in West Warrington on 25/5/17

Christians in West Warrington will be praying in the streets as well as in their churches this Ascension Day, Thursday 25th May. They are responding to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Thy Kingdom Come initiative, calling on Christians to pray for others to come to know Jesus. It marks the first of ten days of prayer. People will be praying in each of the four Anglican churches of West Warrington at certain times and will be praying as they walk between them.
Says Pioneer Team Rector, Rev.Jeremy Tear, “Not everyone is expected to walk the whole way or visit all four churches (though I hope to manage that myself!). People are welcome to join us for any part of the time. You don’t have to be a member of one of our churches to join in. All are invited to pray.”
Similar events are being held throughout this country and in many others. Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodists and most other denominations are backing this call. The Archbishop, Justin Welby, says, “Coming to know Jesus was the most important thing that ever happened to me. I am praying that others will find the same love, joy and peace he brings.”
People will be praying at St James’s, Great Sankey, at 9.00 am, at St Philip’s, Westbrook, at 11.00 am, at St Paul’s, in The Oaks Centre, Penketh, at 1.30 pm, and at St Mary’s, Great Sankey, at 3.30 pm. The day will end with a service of Holy Communion in St James’s at 7.30 pm.
Jeremy added, “Ascension Day is when we remember the day Jesus left the Earth to go back to his Father in Heaven. That’s when he told his followers that they were to be witnesses to him both locally, nationally and internationally. Our prayers are one way of making that happen.”
Other events will be happening over the following nine days, locally nationally and internationally. For more information about this initiative, see
“In praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ we all commit to playing our part in the renewal of the nations and the transformation of communities.”
Archbishop Justin Welby.

Join us. Walk. Pray. Be part of it.

How to increase happiness: give it away!

I have written about the risk of giving away money unintentionally.

I have also written about some of the findings from scientific research into happiness. Another finding is that, unlike money, happiness grows when you give it away.  In other words, you find yourself feeling happier after you have done something to make someone else happy. I don’t know if anyone knows why, but it seems to be so.

How? Could you volunteer for something?

Of course, not everyone is cut out to be a do-gooder. I know I am not. I prefer to keep to myself. Except online. But it is a matter of degree. Even doing a little to help someone, occasionally, can do you good.

Where to start? There are lots of charities and not-for-profit organisations that are always looking for another volunteer. Increasingly, local authorities are inviting the public to volunteer in some of their activities too. Pick one that suits you, both in the nature of the activity and the organisation’s objectives. If you love animals, an animal charity may be best. If you are concerned about poverty in other parts of the world, you might find an opportunity to go overseas to volunteer with a project, or you could get involved in publicity or fundraising without leaving home.

If you find you cannot cope with too much organisation, you don’t have to. Just find someone who needs a little help and provide it on a one-to-one basis, whether doing their garden, taking them out, or just sitting and listening to them for a bit.

There are many reasons for doing good, but one is that it does you good. Amazing!

Do you prefer to read paperbacks or e-books?

I thought I was a bit old fashioned sticking to reading physical books, although I do read books online nowadays, mainly because they are cheaper. I still like to hold a book in my hands.

I publish my own books both ways. This is partly to reach the widest possible readership. I also like to keep a few handy, at home or in the car, in case I want to show them to someone or even sell one face to face. It is less straightforward if they have to go online.

However, I have just heard that sales of e-books have started to decline, while paperback sales are going up.

Total sales of all books are up [Hooray!].



What’s happening?

People suggest that nowadays we all spend so much time in front of our computers and tablets that it’s nice to shut them down and do something different to relax. It may also be because many people use their phones for a lot of things and find them not to be the best way to read a book. Another suggestion is that people like to read on trains, planes, beaches, park benches and lots of places where it’s easy to lose your book or get it wet or covered in sand. Books can survive better than anything electronic and anyway they are more expendable.

Whichever way you prefer to read, please do so and encourage others.

And enjoy it!

Can you be healthy and happy?

Most people agree that health is the most important thing in life. Those who disagree generally put it in the top three things. So why would I question it?

Of course, there are plenty of people with long term illnesses and disabilities who manage to lead happy lives. How they do it could be the subject of another series of articles. Let’s suppose for a start that they concentrate on all the other things that make for happiness, some of which I have already written about. That does not disprove the statement that, overall, staying healthy helps you to be happy.

The trouble is that nowadays there is so much written and spoken about health, and there seems little consensus on what makes for a healthy lifestyle. So many diets and exercise regimes are recommended, only to be replaced by the next ‘breakthrough’ (or fad if you like).

  • Worrying about your health can make you unhappy, even when you are well.
  • Obsessing about your diet or exercise can lead to a lot of anxiety and keep you from enjoying the health you do have, even if it could be better.

The advice that makes sense, taken from a number of sources, is that to be happy you should take care of your health without making it a cause of anxiety. Here are a few simple tips that almost everyone seems to agree on.

  • Avoid taking recreational drugs.
  • Do take any medicines prescribed by your doctor.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Take regular exercise of some kind.
  • Avoid faddy or extreme diets, unless advised by your doctor.
  • Keep to a sensible weight: overeating is bad, regardless of the make-up of the diet.
  • Get enough sleep, whether you are an early or late person.

In case you are in doubt, I am addressing people who are relatively well-off, by global standards. In some places, overeating is not an issue: starvation and malnutrition are. For many people, getting enough to eat would make them happy.

But for you and me, it’s about being sensible, so as to be healthy and be happy.

All About ‘Accounting for Murder’

Here is a press release for Accounting for Murder, Double Entry

Accounting for Murder: Double Entry – Thrilling New Detective Novel Proves Hidden Investments Can Kill More than A Tax Bill


Meticulously crafted by John Harvey Murray, ‘Accounting for Murder: Double Entry’ is an intense and intricate murder mystery that takes readers across Wales, as one woman’s plan for divorce ends in the death of her affluent husband. The suspect could be any number of his assistants, financial advisors and even his new mistress. What ensues is thrilling to say the very least, and bold proof that money simply can’t buy happiness – or even a heartbeat.

While murder mysteries and detective novels have long been a staple of the literary world, both readers and critics are currently crying out for wholly-unique new narratives that do more than succumb to the same-old recycled concepts.

Thankfully, John Harvey Murray is stepping up to the plate with gusto, unveiling a new detective masterpiece that readers won’t be forgetting any time soon. Introducing ‘Accounting for Murder: Double Entry’.




When former athlete Patty Rogers decides to divorce her unfaithful husband, Ray, she calls on accountant, Frank Hill, to find Ray’s conveniently missing investments. The trail leads from Cardiff to the financial heart of the City of London and to Aberystwyth, where the mystery turns into a murder.

 The police regard Patty as their one and only suspect. Frank and his teenage daughter Jane try to find the real killer, unaware of the dangers they are facing from corrupt accountants, racist thugs, a dog-fighting gang, uncooperative policemen and Ray’s mistress, a pop star with many faces and a rock-solid alibi. To see justice done they will need all Frank’s investigative skills and Jane’s youthful energy. And more.

 “The great thing about Patty, Ray and the host of other characters is their sheer depth,” explains the author. “This isn’t a detective novel where you’ll be guessing the killer from the second chapter. It’s deliberately unlike anything else on the market, gives nothing away and will embroil every reader in something they won’t be able to stop fidgeting about until they’ve finished the book!”

Continuing, “It’s also rare to see Wales host a story like this and, for the country’s beauty and tranquilities, I am taking it upon myself to present the raw realities of the nation in the 21st-century. It’s a cosmopolitan place that is something of a far cry from the myths and folklore association with traditional Welsh culture. I have a deep love and passion for Wales, and know the nation intimately. It’s certainly an unusual setting for an unusual story.”

With the volume’s demand expected to be high, interested readers are urged to secure their copies as soon as possible.

Available on  Createspace at GBP 6.99 

Also on Kindle: ASIN: B06ZYNRD8F USD 2.99 

About the Author:

After studying Economics and Accountancy at Bristol University, John worked in local government finance, investigating everything from petty fraud to massive overspends, and all kinds of insurance claims. He has worked in North, Mid and South Wales, and the North West of England. He is now a self-employed risk management consultant based in Warrington.

He has written several books. His writing reflects his Christian faith, as well as his love of Wales, of horses and of other animals.


! Accounting for Murder is Published

Accounting for Murder: Double Entry is now available from Createspace at £6.99

go to

It is also available on Kindle for 2.38


go to

Here’s a short summary.

When former athlete Patty Rogers decides to divorce her unfaithful husband, Ray, she calls on accountant, Frank Hill, to find Ray’s conveniently missing investments. The trail leads from Cardiff to the financial heart of the City of London and to Aberystwyth, where the mystery turns into a murder.