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Family Christian Stores, America's Largest Christian Bookstore Chain, Files for Bankruptcy, Hopes for Restructuring Process

( [email protected] ) Feb 13, 2015 01:35 PM EST

Family Christian Bookstores
Photo: Family Christian Bookstores

The largest Christian bookstore chain in the United States filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday in Michigan.

According to Dawn McCarty of Bloomberg News, Family Christian LLC, a nonprofit company that sells Bibles, books, music, church supplies and other faith-related merchandise, filed Chapter 11 documents in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Grand Rapids, Mich. However, a press release from the company written by Steve Biondo stated that it does not expect to close any stores or lay off any employees.

"We strive to serve God in all that we do and trust His guidance in all our decisions, especially this very important one," Family Christian Stores President and CEO Chuck Bengochea said. "We have carefully and prayerfully considered every option."

Bengochea, who has held his current position since July 2014, added that filing for bankruptcy "allows us to stay in business and continue to serve our customers, our associates, our vendors and charities around the world."

The press release elaborated on the history of the company that may have led to this point.

"Family Christian Stores was purchased in 2012 by three businessmen and donated to Family Christian Ministries, a not-for-profit 501c3," Biondo wrote. "Family Christian Stores operates in support of Family Christian Ministries' mission partners and has a long history of giving to ministries serving widows and orphans."

As for the restructuring plan itself, which is supposed to last about 60 days, Biondo explained how it will work.

"A newly formed subsidiary of Family Christian Ministries will serve as the lead bidder for the Section 363 sale process," Biondo explained. "It will acquire the streamlined organization's assets and maintain operation of Family Christian Stores' 266 stores in 36 states, as well as its e-commerce site."

Bengochea reassured customers that no changes will be made in its day-to-day operations while the restructuring process takes place.

"After the court approves the sale, we can begin to reinvest in our stores and bring our customers products and services that will help us better fulfill our mission - to glorify God by helping people find, grow, share and celebrate their faith in Christ," Bengochea said.

According to FAQs posted on the company's website, Family Christian believed that after cutting costs and "taking other steps," the only two options left were either to "liquidate and shut down our stores" or "go through the Section 363 sale process and preserve Family Christian Stores." The company decided to go with the latter option, which it claimed will help them deliver "a best-in-class customer experience."

The press release emphasized that Family Christian Stores was the only part affected by the restructuring plan. The two other companies under Family Christian Ministries, iDisciple and Giving Films, will remain unaffected and continue operations as usual.

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