Saying amen to long-time Christian family business

If you’ve had enough of the mall, the traffic and the stress of Christmas shopping this year, you’re due a visit to Pelham’s Amen Corner.

Years ago, churches had an area close to the altar known as the amen corner. Here church members sat who could be depended upon to uplift an “Amen” during inspiring moments of the sermon.

In Pelham, we’ve had our own Amen Corner since the early ‘80s when Darrel Holcombe and his family opened the Christian bookstore and gift shop near Sarah’s Flowers on Highway 31. Darrel Holcombe was 21, and although he may have been unaware at the time, he was beginning a long career in his Christian bookstore.

Originally a venture of the entire Holcombe family, Darrel is now the sole proprietor of Amen Corner in Pelham. His parents have retired and his brother owns and operates the Amen Corner in Childersburg, which opened about a decade after the Pelham location.

Eleven years ago this coming January, Pelham’s Amen Corner moved to its larger location about four miles north of the original store. Still on Highway 31, the Amen Corner is a store familiar to Pelham residents.

Although the store carries a varied selection of gift items, cards, music and books, Holcombe says books are still his biggest sellers.

“I like being in the loop of what is happening in Christian publishing,” Darrel said.

A couple of this bookstore owner’s favorite authors include Max Lucado (for his encouragement), Frederick Buechner (for deeper reading) and, of course, C.S. Lewis. Ultimately, Holcombe said his mission is to offer diverse Christian ideas through a wide variety of books.

Even though Christmas is the store’s busiest season, a peaceful atmosphere reigns throughout the store. Holcombe said the most asked for item this year is Chris Tomlin’s CD “Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship.” Rounding out the gifts, music, cards and books is a complete children’s section so that busy shoppers can locate gifts for everyone on their lists.

“When I walk into the Amen Corner, I feel like I am walking into a Christian environment,” said shopper Catherine Murray. “And the employees are always so helpful.”

Store hours for the holiday season are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The store is closed on Sundays. If you’re looking for a place to escape the hectic pace of last-minute Christmas shopping and find meaningful gifts, the Amen Corner should be your destination.

Holcombe’s feeling about the bookstore’s long-lasting success?

“I am blessed to have been a part of it,” he said, smiling.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.