Books and Bobbles

When you’re on staff at a church that hosts a United Methodist District Conference, you’ve got to be ready to answer all kinds of questions. From an employee perspective, two questions are asked more than any others. In first place: “Where are the restrooms?” And coming in at a very close second: “Where’s Cokesbury?”

Cokesbury creates a kind of pop-up store at all district conferences (and at the Episcopal General Convention, plus the Disciples of Christ General Assembly, both singular annual gatherings) where pastors and delegates can purchase the company’s most popular items for personal as well as for church-wide spiritual growth. Conference attendees have the opportunity to tangibly peruse resources like books, curricula, calendars, and Bibles. Each host church provides a dedicated space for Cokesbury, and conference attendees make a beeline to the store between every conference session—after discovering the locations of the restrooms, that is. So if you didn’t have the opportunity to attend this year, or couldn’t squeeze in time to stop by Cokesbury while you were there, keep reading—here’s a summary of this year’s hottest items.

Flying off the Shelves

As the pastor of what’s been called the most influential mainline church in America—the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas—it’s no wonder that Adam Hamilton’s books have been conference bestsellers for the past ten years, and this year was no exception. In The Call, which was released just last month, Hamilton leads you from the Road to Damascus to the sun-drenched lands of modern-day Greece and Turkey to a Roman prison following the journeys of Paul. The book and complementing DVD are designed as a six-week study with components that can be used in any size group and are appropriate for adult, youth and children ministries.

Five Marks of a Methodist also resonated with conference attendees. In plain language, author Steve Harper answers the question “How should United Methodists live?” using the five identifiers established John Wesley: love God, rejoice in God, give thanks, pray always, and love others. This is the perfect book for explaining the Methodist way, which is why it’s no surprise to find it at the top of Cokesbury’s conferences’ best-seller list.

Another UM conference favorite from Cokesbury’s conference stores was the John Wesley Bobblehead. You read correctly: a John Wesley Bobblehead. The nine-inch Wesley doppelgänger first appeared on the scene in early 2014 and was so popular, Cokesbury couldn’t keep up with the demand. But much to the delight of conference attendees, Brother John was back in stock at the conference, and is undoubtedly bobbling his head in thousands of church offices as we speak; he can bobble for you, too.

The Impact of Having Roots and Wings

At this year’s Episcopal General Convention, it was reported that the updated Book of Common Prayer, General Convention 2015 and Bishop Michael Curry’s books were the hot-ticket items. As the first African-American bishop to lead a southern diocese of the Episcopal Church and now the newly elected Presiding Bishop, Michael B. Curry turned heads at the 2012 General Convention when he challenged his audience to be “called to craziness.” This address—now packaged as Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus—also makes a great companion piece to his latest release, Songs My Grandma Sang, which details the impact that music from his childhood had on his faith. Whether you’re rediscovering roots or learning more about crazy, divine love that can change the world, Bishop Curry’s candor and vibrant energy bring a refreshing change of pace to your personal or small-group study.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Now every church is unique, but their problems? Not so much. In fact, strife within churches usually involves one or more of the same ten issues. Another favorite at Cokesbury’s pop-up stores was Ten Prescriptions for a Healthy Church, which keenly identifies where churches struggle most and provides much-needed hope and optimism in the midst of overwhelming concern. Authors Bob Farr and Kay Kotan offer practical strategies and real-life success stories to help congregations overcome common problems in targeted, ministry-specific areas.

For those of you who attended a denominational gathering this summer, what were some of your favorites? Tell us in the comment section below!

Judy Bumgarner is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee. She also works at Brentwood United Methodist Church in the church’s Caring Ministry. Miriam Drennan serves as editor for Cokesbury Commons.