Christian Retailing

Mardel names new CEO as Mart Green steps down PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Friday, 17 April 2015 04:45 PM EDT

MartGreen-webThe Mardel Christian & Education retail chain today announced the appointment of Jay DePalmo as CEO. DePalmo will replace Mardel founder and current CEO Mart Green and will begin his new role April 20.

DePalmo comes to Mardel after 16 years at sister company Hobby Lobby. He brings a vision for sustained year-over-year growth as Mardel continues to increase its in-store and online Christian lifestyle product offerings, including a wide range of Bibles, books, music, church supplies, education materials, jewelry, apparel, gifts and décor.

Bethany House authors receive Romantic Times awards PDF Print E-mail
Written by Karen Steele   
Thursday, 16 April 2015 03:13 PM EDT

Wildwood-CreekThis week, Romantic Times announced its 2014 Career Achievement Winners and Reviewers’ Choice Awards, which included two Bethany House authors, Lauraine Snelling and Lisa Wingate.

Snelling received the Career Achievement Award in the Inspirational category, Wingate received the Reviewers’ Choice Award in the Inspirational Suspense category for her book Wildwood Creek.

Snelling is the award-winning author of over 70 books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Her books have sold over two million copies. Besides writing books and articles, she teaches at writers’ conferences across the country. Learn more at

Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books, including Tending Roses, Talk of the Town, Blue Moon Bay, and Larkspur Cove, which won the 2011 Carol Award for Women’s Fiction. Visit

The award ceremony will take place at the RT BookloversConvention in May. For a complete list of the 2014 Romantic Times award winners, please click here

Baker Publishing Group titles named 2015 Word Award finalists PDF Print E-mail
Written by Karen Steele   
Thursday, 16 April 2015 01:59 PM EDT

GenerousThree Baker Publishing Group titles are on the short list for The Word Guild’s 2015 Word Awards. For a complete list of shortlist titles, please visit


In this category, Baker author James K.A. Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Relativism?: Community, Contingency and Creaturehood, made the list. In this book, a leading Christian philosopher introduces the philosophical sources behind contemporary theology, offering a fresh analysis of relativism and pragmatism.

Book-Biblical Studies

J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology, made the cut in this category. Drawing on the full sweep of the biblical narrative, Middleton makes a case for the new earth as the appropriate Christian hope and suggests its ethical and ecclesial implications.

Book-Christian Living

Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter, is a finalist in this category. Focusing on the church’s engagement with gay and lesbian Christians, this book invites readers into a gracious conversation regarding human sexuality.

The Word Awards are designed to bring attention to excellence in Canadian Christian writing in all genres. Award winners will be announced at a gala on June 13 in Toronto, Ontario.

The Isaacs, Ricky Free win big at AGM Awards PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christian Retailing   
Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:35 PM EDT

the-IsaacsThe 14th annual Absolutely Gospel Music (AGM) Awards were handed out Wednesday night at a special concert celebration in Smyrna, Tennessee. The Isaacs and producer Ricky Free were the night’s big winners.

The Isaacs took home three awards during the program. The group was awarded their third consecutive Mixed Group of the Year title this year. The group’s Christmas DVD. An Isaacs Family Christmas Special, also won Special Event Project of the Year. Ben Isaacs also took home Producer of the Year (Artist) for a fourth time in his career.

Free was also honored with three awards. He took home the Producer of the Year (Professional) title last night. In addition, he was awarded Ovations for Album of the Year (for Brian Free & Assurance’s Unashamed) and Progressive Recording of the Year (for Joseph Habedank’s Welcome Home) for his production work on those recordings.

Additional artists and individuals who won multiple awards throughout the evening included the Bowling Family, Joseph Habedank, and The Browders.

One of the biggest awards of the evening—the 2015 Pacesetter Award—was handed toenLighten SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

The staff of and the Unthank family presented the Susan Unthank Memorial Award to songwriterRebecca J. Peck. This award honors women who have worked in this field of music and made a resounding impact on Southern Gospel music. In addition to the Susan Unthank Memorial Award, Peck was chosen as Songwriter of the Year (Professional).

The evening featured show-shopping performances from the Isaacs, the Bowling Family, Tribute, The Browders, High Road, Jim Brady Trio, The Dunaways, Adam Crabb, Joseph Habedank, Amber Nelon Thompson, 11th Hour, The Williamsons, and Jeff Stice. The evening also featured a special presentation to the family of Lari Goss and a musical tribute to Andrae Crouch by Geron Davis & Kindred Soulsand Angela Primm.

“Words can not express just how thrilled we are with this year’s program,” President Deon Unthank said. “Joseph and Amber were phenomenal hosts, and this year every performer knocked it out of the park.”

The Absolutely Gospel Music Awards handed out each year by the staff at Each January, the staff and select media representative decide upon the nominees in over twenty categories. In February of that year, the readers of the site are then allowed to vote for their favorites in 12 categories. For more information, visit

Here is a list of the 2015 winners:

Song of the Year: “Finish Well” – Karen Peck & New River (written by Michael Farren, Karen Peck Gooch, and Kenna West)

Album of the Year: Unashamed - Brian Free & Assurance (produced by Ricky Free)

Pacesetter: enLighten SiriusXM Satellite Radio

Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Amber Nelon Thompson

Male Vocalist of the Year: Adam Crabb (Gaither Vocal Band)

Female Vocalist of the Year: Karen Peck Gooch (Karen Peck & New River)

Male Group of the Year: Booth Brothers

Female Group of the Year: HIGHROADIII

Mixed Group of the Year: The Isaacs

Songwriter of the Year (Artist): Matthew Browder (The Browders)

Songwriter of the Year (Professional): Rebecca J. Peck

Producer of the Year (Artist): Ben Isaacs (The Isaacs)

Producer of the Year (Professional): Ricky Free

Engineer of the Year: Blake Bennett

Musician of the Year: Jeff Stice

Traditional Song of the Year: “Footprints On the Water” – Gold City (written by Joseph Habedank & Dianne Wilkinson)

Traditional Album of the Year: Journey of Hope - Tribute (produced by Roger Talley)

Progressive Song of the Year: “I Know Enough” – Bowling Family (written by Marcia Henry & Belinda Smith)

Progressive Album of the Year: (a tie) Jesus Saves –Three Bridges (produced by Rick Sandidge) and Welcome Home – Joseph Habedank (produced by Ricky Free)

Country Song of the Year: “Listening For the Shout’ – The Browders (written by Matthew Browder and Tommy Browder)

Country Album of the Year: Church In the Kitchen – The Dunaways (produced by Jerry Salley)

Special Event Project of the Year: An Isaacs Family Christmas - The Isaacs

Music Video of the Year: “Where I’ve Been” – The Freemans (Big Merlin Productions)

Fan Favorite Artist of the Year: Bowling Family

Susan Unthank Memorial Award: Rebecca J. Peck

CBA event connects U.S., Eastern European publishers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christian Retailing   
Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:14 PM EDT

CBALogo-webEarlier this month, about 40 Christian companies from the U.S. and Eastern Europe countries came together to explore rights, licensing, and distribution of Christian books and resources at the CBA MarketSquare in Budapest, Hungary. reported that many attendees agreed it was a valuable and worthwhile experience of relationship building, discussion, and inspiration. Stories were shared of the incredible impact Christian resources are making in the lives of people around the world.

“For me, the most important take-aways were the quality of relationships built and the power of the printed page in lives being changed by mission-oriented publishers worldwide,” CBA President Curtis Riskey said.

The success of the event has sparked plans for the 2016 Eastern Europe MarketSquare. Expansion of the event into additional global regions has also been discussed.

New ownership for Family Christian Stores expected in June PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christian Retailing   
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 03:33 PM EDT

FamilyChristian-Stores-Logo-webA Michigan district court judge on Tuesday allowed motions to go forward for the use of cash and cash collateral in Family Christian Stores’ bankruptcy case, paving the way for a Section 363 sale of the company’s assets on June 8.

Attorneys for Family Christian Stores as well as attorneys for affiliates and various creditors were back in court this week. All parties, including Judge John T. Griggs, agreed to the June sale date.

Bids for the company will be taken through a traditional auction process, with a bid deadline of May 18. The winning bid will be announced on May 22. reported this week that three parties are interested in purchasing Family Christian’s assets. The website also reported that Family Christian Stores “will continue operating its 266 retail stores in 36 states as the normal proceedings go forward.”

Family Christian has reported that its sales fell by $75 million to $230 million from 2009 to 2014, and that sales were only expected to reach $216 million this year.

Vendors and lenders to the company stand to lose upward to $75 million in the Chapter 11 proceedings, according to Family Christian Stores originally filed for Chapter 11 on February 11.

Howard Books promotes Smith to vice president PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christian Retailing   
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 03:01 PM EDT

Smith-McDonaldHoward Books has announced that Jennifer Smith has been promoted to vice president, director of publicity.

Smith came to Howard Books in October 2010, from the company’s New York offices, where she oversaw publicity for Simon & Schuster Audio. Prior to that, she was the director of publicity and marketing for one of Simon & Schuster’s distribution clients.

Before her career in publishing, she spent several years as a news director and producer for national television and radio networks and is a guest lecturer at various colleges and universities, specifically talking about publicity, book publishing and the climate of our marketplace.

Since joining the Howard team, Smith has been an integral part of our growing success and has helped cement Howard Books’ reputation in the marketplace as the foremost publisher of Inspirational/Christian books.

She has been diligent in assuring our books and authors get the attention they deserve across mainstream and Christian media platforms, and has helped our imprint launch more than 30 titles to the New York Times best-seller list, including: EntreLeadership, An Invisible Thread, Kisses from Katie, Illusion, Waking up in Heaven, Angels Walking, Emotions, Where a Man Stands, The Traitor's Wife, Rise of Isis and many more.

In 2013 she led campaigns for some of the company’s most successful titles, including No. 1 NYT best-sellers Happy, Happy, Happy  and Sicology 1. In addition, she has fostered relationships with and spearheaded campaigns for many best-selling authors, including A&E’s Duck Dynasty Family, TLC’s Duggar family, the stars of TLC’s The Little Couple, Wm. Paul Young, Tim Conway, Karen Kingsbury, Charles Stanley, Darryl Strawberry, Jay Sekulow and many others. 

Smith’s ability to navigate media relationships as well as lead her team has proven instrumental in helping to grow the Howard Books division to what it is today.

Newsboys nominated for Billboard Music Awards PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Monday, 13 April 2015 04:40 PM EDT

Newsboys-webNewsboys has been nominated for two 2015 Billboard Music Awards. The band is nominated for Top Christian Artist, alongside Casting Crowns, Hillsong UNITED, Lecrae and MercyMe.

In addition, Newsboys’ “We Believe” is nominated for a Billboard Music Award for Top Christian Song. The band’s longest-running No. 1 single to date, “We Believe” also serves as the theme song of Pure Flix’s “Do You Believe?” that stars Academy Award-winner Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Cybill Shepherd and Lee Majors, among others.

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