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End of an era for Cokesbury stores

Posted: January 29 2013 at 12:00 AM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt


Over the last seven years, Ashley Pierce has overseen several transitions as a Cokesbury
store manager, such as moving from one location to another, but closing the two stores in
the Northern Illinois Conference area may be the most difficult.

“It is a hard experience,” said Pierce who is preparing to close the Naperville and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary locations. “It’s always sad to lose the store, but I think the way Cokesbury is going about it and making a next step will make it an easy transition for congregations and churches.”

In today’s age of a growing digital marketplace, the United Methodist Publishing House announced in November 2012 that it will be closing all 38 full-line stores and 19 seminary stores by April 2013 and redirecting focus and resources to its online services as a cost-saving measure.

“Cokesbury has been serving (customers) for more than 200 years, and during that time has continuously adapted to the changing landscape affecting congregations and their leaders,” said UMPH President and Publisher NeilAlexander in the Nov. 5 statement.


Cokesbury, which offers resources for congregations, seminaries, church leaders, study groups, and individuals has seen a steady increase in sales through and its Cokesbury Call Center operation over the past 10 years. At the same time, the number of Cokesbury customers relying solely on store locations has steadily declined. In the most recent customer survey, only 15 percent of Cokesbury’s customers reported shopping exclusively in stores. Still, customers like Pastor

Eddie Coulson who works with the Hispanic community through River Glen Church in
Naperville will miss shopping at the brick and mortar store.

“We come here (the store) to get lots of products for our church which is a blessing,” said
Pastor Coulson. “There are not too many stores in the area like this so that’s the hard part.”

Naperville resident Jean Smith is also disappointed the store is closing. “I am very sad. I think this store has a lot of variety. I would buy little presents for kids, bible accessories, and ornaments at this store,” said Smith who was recently shopping with her young granddaughter. “Everyone is so nice to me when I come in here. They’re great to my granddaughter as well.”

Pierce says, fortunately, Cokesbury will continue to offer great products online and through sales representatives.

“Cokesbury is not going away. We will have more events in the conference and more flexibility to come out to churches,” she said. “Cokesbury is still really important to the congregations in that they can get good solid Methodist curriculum and resources to build a foundation for children’s ministries, youth ministries and adult ministries on the Wesleyan principles.”

For purchases visit or contact the Cokesbury Call Center 1.800.672.1789.

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