When Pastor Doug Pratt first arrived in 2004, he began working closely with the Christian Education (CE) Ministry to initiate new programs. As an avid reader and lover of Christian books, Doug had some fresh ideas for First Church!

“For the first time, we were planning church-wide programs such as small Bible study groups and a book club,” said Ann Schick who, at that time, co-chaired the Adult Christian Education Committee with her husband Ed. “These featured Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life and a book discussion by Doug on C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters.”

We also launched the Bonita Christian Forum (BCF) in 2005. The congregation’s enthusiasm for Christian books was enhanced by the formation of the BCF, which has featured many prominent authors.

“We saw how eager our congregation was to hear, read and study the Word and to purchase books that inspired faith,” Ann said. “So, the CE Committee set up a table in McClure Hall on Sundays to sell books for upcoming studies and visiting authors. We would sell out every week. At the same time, we noticed that the attendance for the new programs was continuing to grow.”

This growth was not lost on Pastor Doug, who began to envision a book store that would include an area for our existing library. It would need to be in a good location, making it as convenient as possible for members to make their purchases. The BookCenter opened in 2009 located directly across from the Sanctuary.

The BookCenter has been an astounding success under the management of Ed Schick. In its first year of operation, book sales totaled over $41,0000 with more than $700 in sales for other gifts and cards. Open every Sunday morning and during most church events, it stocks books needed for group studies and books by visiting authors and guest speakers. By 2011, retail sales exceeded $93,000 with over 6,500 products sold.

In recent years, the BookCenter has sold up to 9,000 books a year while up to 400 books have been checked out from the library annually. The BookCenter, celebrating its 10th year, serves as more than a convenience—it is a valuable resource for our congregation. The proceeds are used to support the various ministries of the church.

The Younger Library

In 2017 the decision was made to place the lending library in a separate location. This would not only give the BookCenter additional real estate for inventory, but also feature the library as its own entity where individuals could browse and relax. First Church received a gift from the Younger family to underwrite renovations to the parlor in Price Chapel, creating the library space. Now the Younger Library is a comfortable area that functions as both a library and a cozy meeting room. Almost every Sunday, Bill Younger and his wife Phyllis would visit the BookCenter to check out the new arrivals section. Bill would select one or two books and read small sections to Phyllis. After selecting which book they wanted to purchase, Bill would
continue reading it to her at home.