I guess this could be considered one of those Craigslist “missed connections.” Several months ago, somebody called to invite me to the Serbian Orthodox church and was going to send me an email, but I never received it. I looked for an address, but like many churches, the Serbian Orthodox church isn’t all that great with new-fangled technology like the internet.
Be that as it may, when Kat Kerlin noticed a new religious bookstore on the corner of Plumas and St. Lawrence streets, the connection was reestablished. Nina Adams, a member of the St. John the Baptist Serbian Orthodox Church congregation, opened the store eight weeks ago, but the sign—painted by Joel Abilar and Corey Larson—was just installed and blessed on Sunday. The patron saint of the store is John the Baptist.
The impetus to open the business came when Adams lost her banker job about a year and a half ago.
“When I was at home, bored out of my mind, I got inspired to reopen the bookstore,” she said. “We used to be on Wells Avenue for 16 years a long time ago. So I got inspired to reopen it. The old bookstore used to bring a lot of people in, curious people, with questions about God and spirituality. A lot of those people go to our church now. I got a grant from the church and opened the bookstore.” According to the store’s website, the original Forerunner was founded in 1991. It had a coffee and tea shop attached. The new store also has coffee and tea.
It’s an Orthodox bookstore, which means it specializes in literature associated with the Orthodox church, often called the Eastern Orthodox church.
“All the books are [about] early church fathers—church monastic desert fathers,” she said. “We’re talking like 300 AD on. We also have catechism for beginning people who would like to learn about the early church, and we have classics, and we do have a few Russian language books. Just a few. It’s all Christian books, and all to do with the early church. The Orthodox church was the first Christian church. The Catholics and the Orthodox used to be one church until 1054,” which was when Constantine split the churches.
There are three Orthodox churches in Reno: The Greek, Serb and Russian. They are all the same religion, but they get their regional title from where the leadership of the church lives.
“We’re all the same,” Adams said. “The only difference is they call it the Serbian church or the Greek church or the Russian church because in the Orthodox church we don’t have a pope,” Adams said. “We have what they call patriarchs, and there’s a patriarch for every country where the church started. So our patriarch lives in Serbia. The Russian patriarch lives in Russia.”
Adams said Forerunner Bookstore offers classes on Wednesday nights. Currently, it’s hosting a class about the early history of the Christian religion, but soon it will have other classes, including one about organic gardening.
The store also has products other than books, including artwork, icons, handmade incense and devotionals, doodads and geegaws, dyptics and music. There’s a library and a small chapel.
I think this is the sort of place that’s cool just to stop in to visit. Adams is a wonderful resource, filled with information and provocative ideas about early Christianity.