Our history

In the beginning…

It all started in an Anglican church in Brixton, south London, towards the end of 1921. The vicar, Revd Leslie Mannering, was talking with a member of the congregation about the spiritual needs of the church.

What could be done to help people ‘get a move on’ spiritually?

In January 1922, The Fellowship of St Matthew was launched with the aim of encouraging spiritual growth in the areas of prayer, Bible reading and communion.

A new monthly leaflet provided Bible passages for daily reading with brief explanatory notes and prayer needs for the parish, the wider church and the world. The church also started weekly Fellowship services on Wednesday evenings.

More and more churches began requesting copies of the leaflets. In 1926, the Fellowship of St Matthew became known as The Bible Reading Fellowship, and by 1939 238,000 copies of the Bible reading notes were being printed for an international audience.

At the start of World War II, a special services edition of BRF notes was produced. By the end of the war, readership had increased by 80,000.

A royal patron

BRF celebrated its silver jubilee in 1947 at an event attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In her address she testified to using BRF notes herself and in 1952 she became Patron of the charity.

Nine years later, in 1961, circulation of BRF notes passed 500,000 copies per issue.

The publication in 1981 of A Feast for Lent and A Feast for Advent, by Delia Smith, established BRF as a leading publisher of Lent and Advent resources.

A new leader, and a new family of ministries

Our CE Richard Fisher joined BRF in 1988 in a peripatetic role, building relationships across the country. He has gone on to steer the charity through three and a half decades of growth and change.

The Barnabas Children’s imprint was launched in 1995 and from 1999 to 2020 our Barnabas in Schools ministry provided highly regarded RE Days and INSETs, helping primary schools explore Christianity creatively. This ministry ceased in 2020, due to the pandemic.

Messy Church became part of BRF in 2008 and Lucy Moore began a new pioneering role, leading and developing the Messy Church movement into the worldwide ministry it is today. Messy Church offers resources, face to face and online training, support and many different opportunities to connect with others who are passionate about helping messy people of all ages to explore faith together in new ways.

Who Let The Dads Out? was part of BRF for a season – inspiring and resourcing churches to support fathers, father figures and their children in sharing faith together. Who Let the Dads Out moved to Care for the Family in 2018.

Anna Chaplaincy became BRF’s first chaplaincy ministry in 2014, with Debbie Thrower joining the staff team to lead this ministry to the growth and widespread respect it enjoys today. Anna Chaplaincy provides training, resources, events and a nationwide network of people involved in the support and care of older people.

Parenting for Faith became part of the BRF family of ministries in 2016 and founder Rachel Turner joined the staff team. Parenting for Faith’s tried and tested courses, podcasts and resources are making a huge impact in communities through the country. They are helping people grow and connect, and raise God-connected children and teens.

In April 2020 we adopted a new name for our oldest ministry. Our publishing and events programme was reframed as Living Faith, bringing it alongside our other, newer ministries. From the very beginning, our goal has been to create content that helps people to experience a vibrant, living faith and to actively live out their faith in their communities. As Head of Content Creation, Olivia Warburton, said, ‘Names confer identity, and we feel that this naming is a small yet significant shift to recognise and celebrate that this area of activity is a programme in its own right with a clear ministry aim.’

A new name for a new age

And Living Faith wasn’t the only new name introduced in recent years.

In 2022 we celebrated our centenary with a number of special events, publications and services.

Our centenary year was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on BRF’s past, present and future: to trace the golden thread that connects us to our roots and carries us forward into a new century. We gave thanks for the past, celebrated the present and prayed about the future.

That period of reflection and prayer led to a major project to consider how best to describe BRF’s evolving sense of identity and how to help people better understand the relationship between BRF and our four key ministries: Anna Chaplaincy, Living Faith, Messy Church and Parenting for Faith.

The result of this long and prayerful process is that we adopted a new name in September 2023. We are now called BRF Ministries, reflecting the fact that BRF is the home of an exciting family of ministries that people know and love. Anna Chaplaincy, Living Faith, Messy Church and Parenting for Faith each reflect our bold and pioneering work in action. Each is making a unique contribution to people’s lives, while sharing our overriding passion to inspire people of all ages to grow in Christian faith.


Consider giving a one off or monthly donation to our work.



We invite you to pray with us for God’s work through BRF Ministries.

Pray with us

Get involved

If you share our vision, find out how you can pray, give and get involved.

Get involved
Within a month 100 people had signed on. At the end of the first year the number had increased to 175, and I wrote in the parochial year-book that the Fellowship ‘was making a very real contribution to the spiritual life of the parish’. At the end of the second year (1923) there were 250 members, and twelve months later over 300…
Leslie Mannering