CEO of Family Christian Stores Trusting In God Despite Bankruptcy

An auction being held on Tuesday, May 26, could determine the future of Family Christian Stores like this one at 3150 Alpine Ave. N.W. (File photo | Mlive Media Group)
Family Christian Stores (File photo | Mlive Media Group)

As the future of Family Christian Stores and it 3,100 employees hangs in the balance in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, company president and CEO Chuck Bengochea said he’s relying on more than the team of lawyers pleading their case.

“I believe this is in God’s hands and we’ll see where this ends up,” said Bengochea on Wednesday, June 3 as his lawyers prepared for a critical hearing next week that will determine if the nation’s largest chain of 266 Christian book and gift stores emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as an ongoing enterprise.

“God may have another plan for us. Whatever God plans is what’s best,” said Bengochea, who came to Family Christian Stores one year ago from his position as president and CEO of The Original Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia.

“We just believe Family Christian Stores should stay in business and we believe we have an incredible impact on our customers,” Bengochea said. The company’s status as a nonprofit corporation also is critical to Christian ministries and charities, which stand to benefit from its success, he said.

At Tuesday’s hearing, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Gregg will hear arguments for a plan to sell the chain’s assets to a bidder who intends to keep its 266 stores operating, and another bidder who plans to liquidate the company’s assets and close the stores.

Bengochea and most of the company’s vendors are hoping Gregg will approve a bid from FC Acquisition that promises to keep the business going.

That bid, which is being funded by Family Christian’s owner Richard Jackson, offers to pay between $42 million and $43.6 million in cash for the company’s assets while keeping the company going.

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Jim Harger