Saturday, April 18, 2015

Special news in the store...

There is a passage, Psalm 33:10, that we have taken to heart: “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing: he frustrates the plans of the peoples.” (NRSV) Loosely interpreted, it could be said that “people make plans while God just laughs!”

Such is the case with plans of our own. Intending to retire after 23 years of service to Episcopalians and other spiritually-minded people as owners of The Episcopal Bookstore, we began to negotiate with a young couple (who seemed a lot like us when we first purchased the business). As much as we thought them to be a good fit as our successors, and as much as they were passionate about the opportunity, they were unable to acquire the necessary funding. So our search for new owners begins anew!

Might you know someone who would love to combine their faith with a business that enriches the spiritual lives of others?

The key ingredients that will contribute to the success of a new owners are all in place: a loyal customer base, a dedicated, hard-working staff, the technology tools to remain current and relevant, and a stellar reputation that attracts customers from near and far. Besides, we’re willing to stay on as needed, serving in an advisory role to ensure a smooth transition.

What it takes is someone who shares our passion for the bookstore as a personal ministry, someone who genuinely loves people and wants to be of service, and who can lead a team of employees with good judgment and business sense. Offering a reasonable amount for the business (based on a professional valuation of its worth) and having the means to fund the acquisition would be essential as well.

The reason we’re contacting you directly is not only to express our gratitude and appreciation for your support, but also recognizing that the best candidate may come from within our circle. If you know a family member or a friend who is ready for a change of pace – who would enjoy being the owner of a vibrant and fulfilling business that could easily be relocated to just about any community with a strong Episcopal base, please forward this message to them.

To learn more about the opportunity to become The Episcopal Bookstore’s new owner, please contact our friends and colleagues at the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates at (904) 277-2664 or by email at They can not only let you know more about our business and its potential, but also can provide you with the necessary training and education to succeed as a bookstore owner.

Thank you so much for your continued patronage and for your interest in having The Episcopal Bookstore able to serve more generations for years to come.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Refusing to sell pizza to a gay couple's wedding

Here is this week's reflection from The Rev. David Marshall, St. John's Episcopal Church, Chula Vista CA.



“We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone” is posted at my dry cleaners. I’m not sure what the sign means. I imagine if I am disorderly, obnoxious, rude, or under the influence, they can refuse to do business with me. Perhaps they don’t want to serve a clergyman? That’s fine. I can leave and pray for them. There are other dry cleaners.

This past week in the news, there is a pizzeria in Walkerton, Indiana, which is apparently the first business to deny service to people in same-gender relationships. The owner said, “If a gay couple wants us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we will have to say no.… We are a Christian establishment.” Of all the ceremonies I have been a part of, as priest, guest, or participant, I’ve never been to a pizza catered wedding. But, I digress.

A number of things bother me about this situation. My parents are small business owners. I believe they should have the right to refuse service, just like my dry cleaner. But, the biggest thing that bothers me is refusing service in the name of Christianity. Can you think of a time where Christ refused service to someone? I remember stories of Jesus eating with sinners, how Jesus’ disciples were troubled, and how the religious leaders of the day used Jesus’ inclusiveness to bully the disciples. In the Gospel of Mark, religious leaders asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus responded, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call on the righteous, but sinners.” (Mk 2:16-17) The ancient rite of ordination calls on ministers to have a heart for those to whom Jesus ministered – the outcast, lonely, widows and orphans. I believe the “priesthood of all believers” means all who follow Christ are called into his ministry for all people.

But I could be wrong. There are two distinct groups in the Old Testament. A group of Torah followers believed in purity and leaned heavily on laws dealing with food, marriage, association, and even clothing. They believed God is pure and therefore they needed to be pure. Another Torah group believed they were a light to the nations. As God’s chosen their responsibility was to share. They also believed God is pure but their calling was to share the light of God. In early Christian times, therefore, groups of Christ followers secluded themselves from the rest of the world. They felt their baptism prohibited participation in the world. To remain in their pure baptismal state, they had to reject the world. Other Christian groups believe that to be baptized with Christ is to share the Gospel with the world – to participate in the world so that the world can be saved. I think we are seeing those divisions playing out in Indiana today.

You probably can guess which group I identify with. Perhaps my own feelings about the LGBT community influence me so that I think all Christians should welcome all people into the loving embrace of God through Christ. But, I could be wrong. Perhaps Christians in Indiana are letting their views influence the way they participate in their own faith tradition and in the world.

But still, I think I’m right because I am betting on Christ’s inclusiveness. If I think that Jesus doesn’t forgive the sins of even one person, I am on a slippery slope that eventually might end with me sliding down out of the eternal promise made to Abraham and dying in my own sins. So, I bet it all on Christ and his love and forgiveness promised to every person.… even if that person refuses to cater a gay-wedding-pizza-reception. I am certain that Christ loves that person, too.

-Fr. Marshall


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A new beginning for M.

Last July we hired a man, M., to work in our store. With few bookstore skills we started him out with simple tasks and responsibilities. Over the succeeding months M has gained knowledge and skill. We have been glad every day that he has been a part of our staff. M’s life had taken a couple of rough turns. Among other challenges he has worked and worked at paying off his credit card debt. And today is a bonus day for M. He will be sleeping in a bed for the first time in 450 days because today he has moved in to his first apartment since was put out on the street, homeless. For the first time in a couple of years he will be cooking his own meals, using shower and bathroom in the same place where his room is located. We think that we are as thrilled for M as he is.
Each of us has learned many lessons about homelessness. It is a complicated and difficult challenge, for those of us with homes and steady lives and for those without homes. The mentally ill and the chemically dependent have it even worse than the sane, clean and sober homeless like M.
We look forward to seeing what changes will result from M having regular, healthy meals, regular undisturbed sleep in a bed, and handy laundry, toilet, and kitchen facilities in his life.