On April 27, the Moravian Church Northern Province announced that they will transfer day-to-day operations management and ownership of the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pa. to Moravian College, effective mid-June, 2018. This mutually-beneficial agreement between the Church, the College, and the Book Shop will allow the church to remove itself from this retail business operation and continue to focus on its core mission to support its 85 congregations. In addition, the new management arrangement is expected to bring additional Moravian College students to Downtown Bethlehem and have a positive impact on other Main Street businesses.
“We are grateful that Moravian College has agreed to take on ownership of the Moravian Book Shop from the Northern Province, and we are particularly happy that we are able to keep this treasure in the ‘Moravian family’,” commented the Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, president of the Moravian Church Northern Province. “Our values as organizations are so closely aligned, we’re confident the Book Shop will continue to be part of the fabric of Downtown Bethlehem for generations to come; serving students, visitors, church members and residents alike.”
“The Moravian Church are founders of the college and seminary and owners of the college charter,” said Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian College. “It makes perfect sense that the sixth oldest college in the country be chosen to continue the mission of what is known as the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world, and we’re honored that the Northern Province has entrusted us with this legacy. We look forward to seeing it thrive and continue to serve the Bethlehem community for the next 273 years.”
The College plans to maintain the iconic book section while offering additional items that will be of interest to students, regular customers of the Book Shop, and visitors to Historic Bethlehem.
The Northern Province includes more than 21,000 members in 13 states and two Canadian provinces. The Moravian Book Shop was founded in 1745 when the Moravian Church appointed Samuel Powell of the Church’s Crown Inn on the south side of the Lehigh River to operate a bookstore. After operating at several different locations around the city, the Moravian Book Shop was moved to its current site near the Central Moravian Church on Main Street in Bethlehem in 1871.