History of Manna Christian Centre

The History of Manna Christian Centre

In The Beginning...

Manna Christian Centre is an award winning Christian bookshop situated in Streatham, South London.

Manna was started in September 1981 through a vision that a member of Streatham Baptist Church had about having a Christian witness on the busy Streatham High Road, through books and counselling.

It was earlier in the 1970's that the Lord laid a vision on members of that Church for an "Open Door" on the High Road. We were conscious that our message needed to be more readily available to people on the street. So our aim and vision was to provide this "Open Door" where during the week the general public could come into contact with the gospel message.

Duncan Pratt, Manna's first bookshop manager explains the original vision as being three-fold:
- A literature ministry in the form of a Christian bookshop providing quality evangelical/charismatic literature, cards and cassettes with a clear Christian and Gospel message
- A Coffee Shop Ministry allowing us to make warm contacts to share the gospel in an informal setting. It would also provide a relaxed atmosphere for shoppers to enjoy quality refreshment and thus be a witness in itself.
- A Counselling Ministry. The Christian message is powerful and relevant to the society we live in and the pressures we live under. Counselling and prayer would be the means by which we would relieve spiritual and psychological distress, both for Christians and non-Christians.

Manna has been serving the community now for over 35 years and stocks a wide variety of Christian Resources including Bibles, Books, CD's, DVD's, Cards and Christian Gift products. In 1984 Manna was able to take over the shop next door and open the Coffee Shop which was headed by Jeannie Kendall enabling them to expand the Counselling Service.

In 1986, Manna was voted the "Christian Bookshop of the Year" for the first time, the award covering the whole of Great Britain and Ireland.

Following this Manna went from strength to strength, always with Prayer as the most important ingredient for our success. We had the essential support of the local churches, their book agents and of course our many customers who come from all over London, and sometimes much further afield.

In 1987, Duncan left Manna to join CLC and was replaced by Dave Lock and Dick Tyler looking after the bookshop and coffee shop respectively and working alongside Karen Mallard and Jeannie Kendall.

Dick left a couple of years later and was replaced by Cilla Ritchie who further developed the evangelistic side of the shop, touching many lives and with many people finding Jesus as their personal Saviour.

In 1992, Manna again won the "Christian Bookshop of the Year" with our outreach into the community being a key component of our win.

The Manna counselling service has now expanded and has new premises elsewhere in Streatham. For more information you can email them

Four years ago we made the difficult decision to close the coffee shop and redeploy the space; the coffee shop was steadily losing money and draining the resources of the whole operation. It was a brave decision not least because we wanted to maintain the evangelistic outreach. However we were able to expand the bookshop and develop a new Childrens department including a play boat as a central feature. The shop was refitted and now goes from strength to strength, still managed after a very long time by Dave Lock.
Two years ago after a long Rent Review which could have crippled us we were finally able to agree a 46% increase in rent instead of a 70%, We also looked at what we were doing and decided to use the premises better upstairs and started the Manna House to outreach to the Homeless, vulnerable, and ex prisoners (those that don't do Church) and provide them with a space, feed them and have fellowship with them in a neutral place.)

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