The Sacred Garden Bookstore has been quietly growing and gaining fans across the state since it opened in 2007. As the official diocesan bookstore, Sacred Garden serves churches in the Diocese of North Carolina and the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.
Sacred Garden Bookstore was created when two historic houses on the corner of Fisher Avenue and Simpson Street in downtown Greensboro were converted from a residence for the elderly into a sacred space for community gathering and conversation.
Kristen Southworth, who took over the bookstore from Holy Trinity parishioner Chris Webster in 2009, developed its five-fold mission of supporting spiritual growth through a carefully vetted selection of titles, supporting community by offering spaces for conversation, reflection, and meetings, supporting families through a variety of resources for children and parents, supporting local artists and causes through our selection of handcrafted gift items and honor cards, and supporting sustainability through responsible business practices and resource materials.
Jane Cooke and Shelley Miller are the current co-managers of the store. Shelley, who worked as a volunteer with Kristen in the bookstore, had always wanted to become more involved. "To be here all the time now is fabulous," she says. Jane was a parishioner of Holy Trinity who had been volunteering in the front office when some suggested she try working at the bookstore. "Once you work in the bookstore," she said, "you're just hooked."
Another person who was helpful in developing the store was Harrison Simons, a priest who ran the diocesan Episcopal bookstore in Oxford, NC for 30 years. Not long after Jane and Shelley took over bookstore operations, Simons announced his retirement, and his store closed. With his blessing, Sacred Garden became the new diocesan bookstore. Shelley says that Simons, who has since passed away, was "extremely gracious and helpful."
As the diocesan bookstore, Sacred Garden serves as a central place for Episcopal parishes to order materials, including books and study guides, baptismal certificates, and parish registers. Jane and Shelley have attended clergy conferences, diocesan conventions, and ECW diocesan meetings to introduce themselves and make people aware of all that Sacred Garden Bookstore offers. "There is a special atmosphere at Sacred Garden," Jane said. "We extend that out to the whole diocese."
But the bookstore is much more than just a resource for Holy Trinity church or the Episcopal diocese of North Carolina. It is a sacred place that is open to the public and offers widely ecumenical texts for those seeking spiritual guidance and support for the journey of faith. The bookstore also carries a wide variety of unique cards and gift items, many of which are handcrafted by local artists. The store also hosts special events, and its meeting rooms and meditation garden are available to outside groups.
Shelley says, "It's a distinct brand of spiritual books, which are broad based and ecumenical. People come in and say they've never seen anything like it, and can't find these things anywhere else. And they can't - not without going to a lot of trouble or knowing exactly what they want. There's a special feeling of being in this space with these books."
Stop by the bookstore today and feel for yourself the uniquely nurturing culture of spiritual support offered by this sacred space!