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Community Highlights: Meet Hannah Karel of Reformation Heritage Books and The Bindery House Cafe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Karel. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I came work as the bookstore and café manager of Reformation Heritage Books (RHB) and The Bindery House during a time of transition. In the spring of 2021, I had just moved back to Grand Rapids after receiving my Master of Music in Performance (voice) from Eastern Michigan University.

Although I love teaching and performing classical music, my interests are very diverse, ranging from philosophy, literature, and languages to history and theology. Working for a Christian book publisher has given me an opportunity to explore many of my areas of interest, while developing new skills in business and leadership.

When I joined the organization, RHB was in the process of moving to its first independent location. With the help of generous donors, RHB purchased the building (formerly Seven’s Paint) which would house our warehouse, shipping department, publishing offices, recording studio, bookstore, and café. We opened the doors to the bookstore in July 2021, and The Bindery House Café opened a few months later.

In my role, I wear many hats: training and supervising employees, managing social media accounts, designing promotional materials, introducing people to Reformed history and theology, advising pastors and teachers on the best materials for their ministries, organizing events, traveling for conference exhibitions, making coffees, coming up with seasonal drink options, etc.!

I envision that the bookstore and café would become more than just a place to shop for Christian books or grab a cup of coffee. I pray that it would also be a place for fellowship, quiet reflection, engaging discussions, and encouragement during the challenging times of life and faith.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Until last year, RHB was housed within Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Although we shipped orders out all around the globe, we did not have a strong local presence. Now there are people discovering us every day, but we are still building up our local clientele.

Opening a café has been an exciting new venture. I embarked upon this journey with no coffee experience (beyond drinking it each morning!) However, after barista training, many hours of practice, taste-testing, and getting customer feedback, I can say that we serve a very good latte.

 We’ve been impressed with Reformation Heritage Books and The Bindery House Cafe, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
RHB is a Christian book ministry that publishes and distributes books in the Reformed and Puritan tradition. It began as a small book distribution ministry in the 1990s, then quickly moved to publishing and reprinting solid Reformed titles. It found a home within Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in the early 2000s before moving to its current headquarters on 29th Street in Kentwood in 2021. We ship book orders all around the world and provide annual donations of books to pastors in rural Africa. Characteristics of our brand:

Confessional – Our books are rooted in the convictions that are proclaimed by the Belgic Confession, Cannons of Dordt, Heidelberg Catechism, and Westminster Standards.

Experiential – We emphasize that true religion should not stop with an intellectual understanding, nor should it be mere performance of good deeds. We believe that every person must be born again by the work of the Holy Spirit and experience repentance of sin, turning in faith to Christ, and enjoyment of love and fellowship with God.

Pious – We believe that all aspects of our life should be built around a love and reverence to God that spills over to love and good works. We place a high priority towards worship: private, family, and public.

Historical – We love to learn from the examples of those who have come before us! We have high regard for the Puritans, who emphasized a fervent and personal relationship with God, which resulted in living humbly and joyfully for His glory alone. We continue to reprint Puritan works and publish books by modern authors that are inspired by Puritan theology.

Our bookstore walls display numerous portraits of various Puritans and Reformers, which were commissioned from Brazilian artist Marcos Rodrigues. Each portrait includes a quote and a brief biography of the person depicted.

As an extension of our book ministry, The Bindery House is a place to gather for fellowship, study, and refreshment. A portion of the proceeds from our coffee sales goes to support Poiema. This ministry is based in Columbia and translates Christian literature into Spanish and distributes it across Latin and South America.

What matters most to you? Why?
Our biggest aim is that Christ would be glorified as the gospel is proclaimed and His people are built up in the truth. We pray that both the bookstore and the café would be used for this purpose!

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Image Credits

David Astudillo
Tavis Bohlinger

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1 Comment

  1. Dawn Giles

    August 17, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you for this article! I’m a happy loyal customer to their material!

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