by KAITLYN ANDERSON
Milestone Bookstore a ministry for Morrises
Pastor James Morris and his wife, Tommye, are the owners of Milestone Christian Bookstore in Pearl. In addition to books, the store specializes in Bible engraving, specialty gifts, music, and worship supplies including robes and communion elements. James Morris is the pastor of Christ-Anointed Church in Jackson, where Tommye serves as youth pastor. They have been married 46 years and have three children, 16 grandchildren and two great-grands. MCL contributing writer Kaitlyn Anderson recently interviewed the Morrises about their store and ministry.
Kaitlyn Anderson: Why did you decide to open a bookstore?
James Morris: When I accepted my call into the ministry (in 1995), we decided to open a bookstore the same year. That was a great step of faith because I worked for UPS as an operation manager, and it came an opportunity where they needed some of the top line managers to voluntarily retire, so I saw that as my opportunity, because I knew that God had some other things that He wanted us to do.
To walk away from all the benefits of that job and to go and start a business from scratch was a milestone. To start a Christian bookstore, everyone told us that it was hard to keep going — let alone make a living — and what God did for us, He always opened another avenue in which we could get resources to take care of our needs. So the bookstore became sort of a work in progress, as an extension of the ministry.
Tommye Morris: And at the beginning, banks didn’t see bookstores being profitable, so they were not willing to lend us money to get started, so we really were at the mercy of God to just do it. So here we sit 25 years later, and the (other Christian bookstores in metro Jackson) are gone and here we sit, and we see that was all God. We did not have anything to do with it, we just governed ourselves to come in every day like we are supposed to, but it was God who made this possible.
KA: Where do you see Milestone being in the next 25 years?
Tommye: Along with being onsite (and online), we really are thinking about going into the publishing end of this business. Because we know the books that are not out there, and if they are not out there, maybe we could encourage writers to put them out there. So in 25 years, I think we will have transitioned from just selling to (also) publishing books.
KA: How does opening a bookstore relate to your calling as pastors?
Tommye: It’s an extension of who we are.
James: And we do more preaching here than we do on Sundays. We have had people that we were blessed to meet from all over the world that have come to this store, and we would minister to them and they would minister back to us.
KA: How have you seen God move in this business?
James: By keeping it going. (laughs)
Tommye: I think that God has perfected our slogan — we serve by precept and example. So I think that God has allowed us to practice that on a regular basis by serving. When someone walks in, you would hear us say, “How can we serve you today?” He said he who is greatest among you, let him be willing to serve. We serve by the example of what we want folks to do back for us — it is the golden rule.
KA: Your website says, “Milestone is a place where God is the owner, and we are His humble stewards.” Could you explain that?
James: Well, you have to recognize that God owns everything, and God showed us how everything was going to operate by reminding us that this is not a normal business — you do not look at it profit- or finance-wise, but the profit that you are going to receive is greater than any money you can get or earn.
Kaitlyn Anderson was born and raised in Jackson. She is 22 years old and a sophomore at Holmes Community College, and hopes to attend Belhaven University next. She is majoring in mass communications with a minor in theater. She is a member of Pinelake Madison, where she serves on the worship team and as a coach for Next Gen student ministry.