Cokesbury closing stores

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMPH) – The Board of Directors of the United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) has announced the launch of a transition initiative, CokesburyNext, for its retail division. As part of this transition, Cokesbury will be closing its 38 full-line stores and 19 seminary stores.

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 during 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. As a result of changes in the industry and the consumer shift to digital shopping and purchasing, the local stores are no longer financially viable.

UMPH President and Publisher Neil Alexander said, “A shift toward all things digital and the convenience of placing orders at any time is the reality of Cokesbury today. It is difficult to see the closure of Cokesbury local stores, but doing so will allow us to make a greater investment in the ways of shopping with Cokesbury that customers increasingly prefer.”

CokesburyNext involves the enhancement of four distinct purchasing channels:

  • The Cokesbury Call Center (800-672-1789) will be extending its hours to 10 p.m. ET.;
  • will be continuously improved to serve customers;
  • The scale and frequency of Cokesbury’s presence at conferences and meetings will increase; and
  • Cokesbury will work with church partners to host many of its most popular events. To better serve customers who require personal attention, we will deploy more than 40 Cokesbury Sales Representatives, who will bring information about a full complement of products directly to customers at their churches and other ministry settings.

CokesburyNext will be rolled out throughout 2013, and the last Cokesbury local store is expected to close by next April 30. More information on CokesburyNext is available at

“A shift toward all things digital…”

– Neil Alexander