Christian bookstore, music venue opens

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's only in the conceptual phase now, but as The Emporium is repainted on Lewisburg's public square, it raises the prospect of a new view open to the world on the south side of that corner building - and it comes with a new business.

That new view, however, is really from within the proprietors' hearts as they continue to live their lives and conduct their business with the values their Christian faith provides, and that has guided them to open Primitive Blessings Christian Book Store within their building on the northeast corner of First and Commerce.

A grand opening was held last Saturday for the Primitive Blessings Christian Book Store where Jeff Ellis, business partner and husband of Karen Ellis, says, "This is so much more than a book store... Don't be surprised to see counseling going on, or even a prayer circle if the need arises..."

Karen agrees.

"The Emporium and Primitive Blessings Christian Book Store include a performance venue for acts like the three we had here on Saturday," she said of music and comedy shows.

In conjunction with their sales of Bibles, inspirational gifts, cards, T-shirts as well as new and "gently loved" books," the Ellis family created a stage in the auction house for Christian performers, a variety show they hope to continue for area residents.

"If you're interested, come and see," Karen says of the performance place. "It's kind of like an open mic thing," she said of the programs planned for the third Saturday of each month.

Elizabeth and Matt Hunnicutt of Lewisburg are local artists who play Christian music and they appeared at Primitive Blessings on July 17.

Also that Saturday, Chris Burnett of Lewisburg, another Christian artist, performed, as did Michael Kelley.

Kelley, of Pulaski, is a humorous Christian performer who, in one set, portrays tough-guy actor Clint Eastwood as a substitute host for the Mr. Rogers children's' program widely aired on public television stations. Equally off-beat contrasts come from his portrayal of Elvis, Ray Charles and as a close personal friend of Kermit the Frog.

"If someone wants to come and share their Christian music and talent," Karen said, "we are here" for that.

As for the grand opening with an entertainment venue, Karen says, "It was a huge success and it's just going to grow."

Amid the religious products available at the store is a line of T-shirts that seem destined to be popular among young people, given the messages of the cloth.

The good-humored takes on the Ts include:

* "A blood donor saved my life." The design is of a lifeguard's red cross, although the cross is taller and delivers the religious message.

* A T-shirt designed for women says, "I am to die for, just ask Jesus."

* "You can do it. He will help" is another statement on a T-shirt with the orange and white graphics similar to those of the Home Depot logo that includes the phrase "You can do it. We can help."

* And in traditional Christmas red, green and white are the words, "Jesus is the gift that keeps forgiving."

The amusing T-shirts are near one of several sitting areas where customers may study along or in groups as the Ellis family offer "a relaxed atmosphere where people can go to talk about God and Jesus without having to be politically correct or worry about being ridiculed," Jeff Ellis said.

"This is so much more than a business," he says. "It is a ministry."