In all honesty, Cokesbury Christian Book Stores have not been the primary place for most of my Christmas shopping over the past 25 years. However, I cannot think of a Christmas season when I have not made my way to buy books, gifts, cards, and worship resources from my local Cokesbury store: in Evanston, Illinois, at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; in Canton, Ohio, a free-standing store near the Belden Village Mall; and over the last four years, on Merle Hay Road in Des Moines, Iowa. We have a great store here in Iowa.
I know the statistics and I understand the business economics. Cokesbury stores, owned and operated by our United Methodist Publishing House, will all close their doors by April 30, 2013. While most United Methodists do not live within 30 miles of a Cokesbury store, this ending of an era feels like the death of a friend or the closing of beloved churches that still have worship attenders.
The Advent season is the beginning of the liturgical year, as we prepare for the coming of “Emmanuel” – God with us in the Christ child. My wife, Racelder, and I always began the Advent season with a few trips to the Cokesbury store in Des Moines. It is amazing how many United Methodists travel hundreds of miles and make Cokesbury a destination when they come to Des Moines.
I trust our United Methodist Publishing House to continue to serve local churches with the best resources available. Check out www.Cokesbury.com and www.Cokesbury.com/next.
To Iowa United Methodists, I encourage you to make your way to the Des Moines store this Advent season. Do some of your Christmas shopping at Cokesbury and also become familiar with the online shopping. Hospitality and courtesy abound at our Cokesbury store, and occasionally you meet someone you know.
As we light candles in our churches to mark the Sundays of Advent; as we distribute Christmas bulletins, cards, and confirmation bibles, think of the gift Cokesbury has been to our churches.
A big shout out, holy hug, and thank you to the Des Moines Cokesbury staff, past and present, including Dawn Petersen (store manager), Earl Sides, Mike Dickey, Adam Stone, and Lacy Petersen.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble