|United Methodist Publishing House President Neil Alexander announces retirement plans|
|Written by Christine D. Johnson|
|Wednesday, 30 October 2013 06:06 PM EDT|
Neil Alexander, president and publisher of The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH), has announced his plan to retire before or soon after the denomination’s 2016 General Conference. The announcement was made through a letter to UMPH staff today. The UMPH board, which concluded meetings today, will now initiate a two-year process to search for a new publisher.
At the helm of the house since 1996, Alexander, who is 65, has worked at UMPH since 1988. Previously he was an executive with the General Board of Discipleship and the Southern New Jersey Annual Conference.
According to a report from The United Methodist Reporter, Alexander told the staff in his letter that he would “be working with intensity and focus the next two-plus years—because our ministry and business require our faithful and full attention.”
He also encouraged the staff, as they work together “for assuring UMPH’s future as a faithful, vibrant and nimble provider or resources people choose, use and value for Christian life and ministry.”
UMPH, parent company of the Cokesbury retail chain, completed the closing of its 57 stores earlier this year. Rather than having physical stores, now CokesburyNext is selling books, products and services at Cokesbury.com, the Cokesbury Call Center and through sales representatives, conferences, meetings and church events.
“Cokesbury has been serving for more than 200 years, and during that time has continuously adapted to the changing landscape affecting congregations and their leaders,” Alexander said when the retail announcement was made. “A shift toward all things digital and the convenience of placing orders at any time is the reality of Cokesbury today. It is difficult to see the closure of Cokesbury local stores, but doing so will allow us to make a greater investment in the ways of shopping with Cokesbury that customers increasingly prefer.”
UMPH products include Sunday school and Vacation Bible School programs, as well as Bible studies, fiction and more through its Abingdon Press imprint. UMPH has 400 employees at its Nashville headquarters. UMPH’s building is part of a downtown site under contract to sell to a real estate developer who plans a mixed-use development for the location.
The publishing house is looking into options for new offices in Nashville, but is expected to remain in its current location through most of 2014, according to The Tennessean.