By the Rev. John J. Shaffer

As many people know, we have a tradition of providing a place at Annual Conference to recycle used books. They are ‘sold’ for a donation. Several individuals have coordinated this activity. I have been involved for a few years, thankfully with the help of several other persons. This year (2016) the amount of books brought to conference was overwhelming. The library of at least two deceased elders were brought completely unsorted. Perhaps some books were from libraries of churches that are in the process of closing.

Many high quality books (biblical, theological and spiritual) are boxed up and will be sent to theological schools in the Philippines.

In the past, I have taken some of the books to used book stores in Portland (Powell’s) and in Bellingham. Bottom line: there is not a market for old religious books. I was generous in providing transportation for these books because I was blessed with a truck. Sadly, my truck died. A side story is that a friend asked for the vehicle and it is now resurrected, but it is no longer mine. The Conference staff no longer wishes to store all of the boxes of books that are left over at the end of Annual Conference.

Here are some suggestions for 2017, when we are meeting in Portland.

If you insist on doing so, just take them directly to Powell’s Book Store who may purchase some of them. They have a way of recycling the books they do not wish to purchase. Based on my experience, they will not buy very many, but they will recycle all of them. They go “east” in a big truck and some thing useful is done with them.

Perhaps in 2018, there will be some motivation to bring used books to Annual Conference. Perhaps it will be discouraged, but here are some suggested guidelines for the books in case we continue this practice:

  1. Is the binding broken?  Throw the book away.
  2. Is the book one that you would be pleased to be given?  If not, throw it away.
  3. Is the resource dated?  If so, throw the book away.
  4. Is the book useful only to American pastors?  If so, throw it away.
  5. If the book meets all these criteria, consider bringing  it.
  6. If you think the book would be good for a theological school in the Philippines, bring it.

When I was an active pastor, I offered to dispose of Dr. Ed Blair’s professional library.  It was one of the best.  He was one of my New Testament professors at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. I discovered that Seattle University was going to start educating Protestant pastors and they welcomed good, scholarly Protestant books. It was a marriage made in heaven. At least I think so. They have not been returning my phone calls lately.

Another member of my church learned of my good deed and he asked me to do the same for his professional library in the field of management. Most of his textbooks were obsolete and outdated. No one wanted them. He thought they would sell for a lot of money and he was disappointed. I never told him what happened to his books. But there was one treasure he had been given by a publisher in Brazil. An illustrated Bible in several volumes written in the Portuguese language.  It is stored at the Stanwood United Methodist Church. At least it will be until someone cleans out that particular closet. We are not going to send it to the Philippines. If anyone speaks or reads that language, let me know and I can start negotiations with the current owner of the books.

I do have an outlet for “lightly used” Bibles, but not for ones with the binding broken or that are dirty or water stained. Now that I live at Wesley Homes, Lea Hill campus, you can deliver them to Village Homes #17. Don’t deliver them to any other number or I may be asked to leave. Chuckle.

Leave a Reply