Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Rosa Parks (far right) attends an author event at the Potomac ABC in 1995.

120 Years of Selling Truth

Editorial by Paul Glenn

I once heard a customer state, “Paul’s worked at the Adventist Book Center (ABC) since nearly the beginning of time.” The ABC, indeed, was established in the Columbia Union Conference 120 years ago, but to set the record straight, I was only employed for 45 years—mostly at the Potomac ABC in Takoma Park, Md., and in its current LivingWell store in Silver Spring, Md.

The ABC was first known as The Tract Society, established in the Takoma Park/Washington, D.C., area. The name was later changed to the Book and Bible House, located close to the Takoma Park church. In 1961, the Potomac ABC building was constructed at 8400 Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park, until it moved to 12004 Cherry Hill Road in 2000.

One reason the store transitioned to its current location was to provide more space for shoppers and parking. Case in point, April 28, 1995, Rosa Parks (pictured above, far right) graced an author event on Carroll Avenue. Referred to as the “mother of the civil rights movement,” estimates show that 3,000 to 5,000 customers visited the ABC that day. The line snaked inside the store, out the door, and behind the next building.

Books Are My Life

In my 45 years of ministering at the ABC, I have encountered many interesting customers and have experienced countless, beautiful moments, like when a minister from a Sunday-worshipping denomination emphatically told me that Ellen White books were for all people, not just Adventists. Or when the lady who bought The Conflict of the Ages series enjoyed it so much because now she was more informed than her other Bible study group members. Or when James E. Johnson, author of his autobiography, Beyond Defeat, and his wife, Juanita, converted to Adventism after several Divine appointments that began with them meeting me. Later, the Pacific Press Publishing Association republished Johnson’s book, adding a “conversion story” chapter to it.

Regardless of the name or location of the store, for the past 120 years, dedicated staff has shown God’s love through inspirational gifts, healthful foods and Christian books—including many Adventist-authored ones not found in most Christian bookstores.

Charlie Jones, author of Life Is Tremendous, states, “You will be the same in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I, too, strongly believe in the power of a good book. Tap into that power. Tap into your Adventist heritage. Then pay it forward. A shared book may make all the difference in someone else’s life or spirituality.

Paul Glenn, who retired in 2017, served as assistant manager, branch manager, associate manager and buyer for the Adventist Book Center.


 

Take a road trip with historians Michael Campbell, North American Division director of Archives, Statistics, and Research, and Phillip Warfield, a Ph.D. candidate studying United States 20th Century History at Howard University (D.C.), as they introduce—or for some, reintroduce—several interesting and exciting Adventist spots you and your family can visit this summer. So, grab your hiking boots and sunscreen because we’re off!

Find more details and history in our online articles!

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