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About Us

Inside the walls of the C.E.I. Bookstore are thousands of printed materials devoted to sharing the Christian message to the entire world. But that’s not all. Inside this bookstore is history – and lots of it. For over a half century, the friends at C.E.I. have provided you with all of your Bible teaching and study needs; and in all those years, a rich history has developed but has never found its way onto the blank pages of its own narrative – until now.

Beginning as a textbook retailer for Athens Bible School (ABS), the store has come a long way in recent decades. Benjamin “Bennie” Lee Fudge, the store’s original owner, purchased the inventory of the ABS supplier in 1955. After operating the store out of a small building behind the present-day U.G. White store for ten to twelve months, Fudge moved his business to the location where it stands now. This building was the old McConnell Funeral Home at the time, pictured below.

The McConnell Funeral Home was the same two-story structure one can see from inside the C.E.I. store today. The bottom floor was the funeral parlor, while the embalming of bodies and business offices were on the second floor. Inside the funeral home, a manually operated elevator would raise and lower the caskets from floor to floor, and this elevator still functions today to hoist inventory boxes and supplies.

The letters C.E.I. originally stood for “Christian Educational Institute.” At some point in the coming years, the date is uncertain, the name changed to “Christian Enterprises International” as plans to make the bookstore an international retailer began. Fudge made the store into a small publishing company that printed its own material, including Bible class literature. For a short time during the 1970s, the store owned and published the magazine called The Gospel Guardian. This magazine published material relevant to the non-instrumental churches of Christ. C.E.I. grew into a small publishing company that printed Bible class materials, Bible question-answer mail outs, and many other materials. As a publishing company, C.E.I. accommodated the needs of many churches of Christ in Limestone County. Even as the company grew larger, the “family” at C.E.I. still took one hour every Tuesday morning to close the store for a group Bible study.

In 1972, “Bennie” Lee Fudge passed away and his wife, Sybil Fudge, took over the business. Sybil sold the store to a group of business men who operated the store for about a year before donating it to Florida College, a Christian college in Temple Terrace, Florida in 1974. About ten years later, Florida College sold the bookstore to the Guardian of Truth Foundation in the 1980s. At one time, the bookstore had other stores in operation in Abilene, Texas, Gadsden, Alabama, and for a short time a small operation in Birmingham, Alabama. The Guardian of Truth Foundation operated two bookstores until 2012 when it combined the two into one bookstore, the C.E.I. Bookstore. When that merger occurred, the C.E.I. Bookstore became the primary distributor of all Guardian of Truth (GOT) Publications. The need to warehouse GOT publications required the store to relocate from its Jefferson St. location to its new location at 220 S. Marion St. in Athens. Presently the bookstore is managed by Lance Taylor.

Many Bible teachers, preachers, and students have expanded their libraries because of the efforts of this bookstore. The impact of the bookstore in Athens, Alabama certainly has been tremendous in the past half-century, and will continue to assist you with all your Bible study needs.

 



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About Us - CEIbooks is a nonprofit, religious bookstore owned and operated by Truth Publications, Inc. We provide Bible-study materials to churches and individuals alike. Our aim is to provide study resources backed by quality service. Learn more »