Several years ago, Rachel received a Cokesbury gift card as a gift. She still has the card.
[Cokesbury is the “official” place for United Methodists to buy church curriculum, supplies, and many other “Christian Store” products. In years past, Cokesbury’s profits funded the pensions for United Methodist Clergy.]
Rachel still has her gift card because we live 2 hours from the nearest Cokesbury store and their gift cards cannot be used online. Every year we go to Annual Conference, and Cokesbury always brings a large display and selection of books and supplies to Annual Conference.
You can’t use a Cokesbury gift card at an Annual Conference Cokesbury, either.
A month or so ago, I called Cokesbury because I was having trouble navigating their website in trying to find some particular worship supplies. When I told the customer service representative that I had been trying to find something on the website but to no avail, she replied with a chuckle and then said, “Oh, you can’t find things on the website!”
In the 1990s, when I was pastoring small churches outside Waco, my practice was to call and order things from Cokesbury. But wait! For a couple of years we were strongly encouraged NOT to order by phone, but to drive to Fort Worth’s Cokesbury store for purchases. Why? Because, apparently, Cokesbury pitted phone sales against store sales, and was threatening to close the Fort Worth store for lack of business.
Maybe it is time to let Cokesbury die. It represents too well the United Methodist Church’s decline, and epitomizes the difficulty with which we might accept change and move into the future able to win disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world (this is our mission statement as a denomination).