Although the last brick and mortar location of Cokesbury in Central New York has been shuttered, a company representative is reassuring congregations across the state that their capacity to meet the resource needs of churches will not be diminished.
Cokesbury has a significant history with the greater United Methodist Church. Cokesbury is the retail division of The United Methodist Publishing House. Founded in 1789, the United Methodist Publishing House is a publisher and distributor to The United Methodist Church and the greater Christian community.
In communications to the Indiana and Detroit conferences over the past year, Ed Kowalski, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the publishing house, cited financial concerns as the impetus for closing several stores across the nation. Last fall, the closure of five stores was announced: Plymouth, Mich.; Blackstone, Va.; Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Syracuse. According to the Cokesbury website, there are still five stores in the region, including three in Pennsylvania, one in New Jersey, and one in New York City.
Kathryn Hackney, a Cokesbury sales representative for the Upper New York Annual Conference based in Albany, said regardless of not having a physical presence in the area, her goal is to continue the company's relationship with the Upper New York Annual Conference (UNYAC).
"Cokesbury remains committed to serving the church with Christian resources. I will spend the majority of my time visiting as many churches as possible," Hackney said. "I have already begun setting appointments with many churches in the conference in order to visit in person, see your church, and hear the vision and heart of the leadership. I will then be available to assist that vision with tools and resources to help that vision become a reality."
Hackney said she will maintain her commitment to the conference through extensive travel of the region. These local church visits will give her the opportunity to provide the newest book studies and resources for specialized district and conference functions.
One significant event already scribed to her planner is June's annual conference session in Rochester.
"Cokesbury will have a large display at the 2011 Annual Conference. The Cokesbury display will provide a variety of supplies, gifts, official United Methodist Resources, and a large selection of books and clergy apparel. In addition, following Annual Conference, I will continue to visit local churches to directly assist with any of their resource needs," Hackney said.
"Cokesbury (also) provides an annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) Showcase Event. During this time, usually January to February each year, I will schedule dates and locations where our local churches can come to preview various featured VBS programs. This is an opportunity for VBS Coordinators and their teams to see, touch, feel and hear about current VBS offerings, where they can make their selections and place their orders. In addition, Christian Educators, Sunday School and Bible Study instructors can visit our Cokesbury website and open links to free printable sample curriculum lessons, along with a curriculum scope and sequence."
Cokesbury products range from curricula, books, consumable supplies, apparel for clergy and choir, church furnishings, altarware, seating for sanctuaries and fellowship halls, and classroom furnishings.
For more information about Cokesbury's offerings, Hackney can be reached via phone at (518) 266-9108 or e-mail at email@example.com; Cokesbury can be found online at www.Cokesbury.com or by calling (800) 672-1789.
*Christian Vischi is the communications associate for the Upper New York Annual Conference. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.