On Monday, September 25, the Joint Executive Committee of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada ratified the decision of the Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN) Board to sell the Provident Bookstore chain to Berean Christian Stores. The sale will be effective at the end of October 2006.
Berean, a Christian bookstore chain based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has 17 stores located in the mid-west and western United States (Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Arizona, California). The chain has been in business for more than 70 years. The addition of the four remaining Provident stores (three in Pennsylvaniaâ€”Lancaster, New Holland, Soudertonâ€”and one in Wooster, Ohio) establishes a growth platform for Berean Christian Stores to expand into the eastern United States.
The four stores will continue to serve their customers with a wide selection of Christian books, music, and other resources. Berean has expressed their desire that Provident staff continue to provide leadership and service in the stores.
Ron Rempel, Executive Director of MPN, indicated that â€œWe have been favorably impressed with the vision and leadership of Les Dietzman, CEO of Berean Christian Stores. The resources and expertise of the Berean organization will enhance the historic strengths of the Provident Bookstores.â€
The Provident Bookstore chain has been an important part of Mennonite Publishing Network. However, in todayâ€™s challenging retail environment, the Board and executive staff of MPN judged that continued success of the stores would be enhanced by Provident becoming part of an organization that shared a compatible vision and had the retailing and financial resources to invest in the bookstores.
This sale enables MPN to focus on its core mission of publishing books and resources that witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ from an Anabaptist perspective. Most MPN material will continue to be available through the former Provident stores and through other bookstores across the country.
The proceeds from the sale enable MPN to eliminate the more than $3 million in debt remaining from the financial crisis approximately five years ago.
â€œWe are grateful to the many individuals that have contributed and continue to contribute to the ministry of Provident Bookstores,â€ said Phil Bontrager, MPN Board Chair. â€œMay God continue to bless them during this transition and as they continue to serve in this ministry.â€