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 | By Joey Reistroffer

‘Christ on Main’ is Bringing a Different Kind of Storefront to Downtown Greenville

The disciples of Christ are coming to the heart of Greenville to set up shop and evangelize, and they are bringing his word downtown.

Tony Owens heard the call. So did Brendan Dudley.

“We were walking down Main Street, and somebody said that it’d be nice to have a store here,” Owens remembers the first stirrings of that call to bring Christ downtown.

“There is zero place for Catholics to buy a book or a rosary in the Upstate,” Owens said.

That bothered him, but now he could do something about it.

Those stirrings began to grow and then everything fell beautifully in place.

It took a lot of work from Veritas, an independent lay Catholic initiative that gets its support from donations. Owens is a board member and Dudley is its executive director.

First, Veritas members had to find an open spot in a very popular and burgeoning area of the city.

“We got started in 2020, and it got serious in 2021,” Dudley said. 

Veritas found the perfect site at 14 S. Main and scooped it up.

“It used to be several things: a soap retailer, a cosmetics store, before that it was a distillery,” Owens said.

But they did not care about the building’s past. This site has potential. Owens explained that they signed a five-year lease in April.

“Father (Jay Scott) Newman was here to bless the place on June 8,” Dudley said of the pastor at St. Mary Church, which is just two blocks away.

Veritas brought in McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture to remodel the 3,300-square-foot shop. The firm turned in their final creative vision by the first week of August.

“This building is 125 years old,” Dudley said, but “Not old by Charleston standards,” Owens reminded him.

Nevertheless, McMillan Pazdan Smith has given it plenty of charm to go along with its potential.

“They are donating all their services, and they have been wonderful. We are blessed to have their support,” Dudley said of the company.

The architects plan to keep the windows and glass doors, so passers-by can peek in and get a feel for the place.

Those drawn by the storefront will walk in and see old-style tiled floors — the foundation for the retail part of the store — with books, rosaries, medals, statues and much more.

“It’s almost impossible to generate money by just selling books,” Owens said, so Veritas will reach beyond the norm.

The tile floor will give way to hardwood, where a wall of windows will separate the retail space from the heart of this Christian hub: Dudley calls this the “flex space.”

It will feature more retail stock, reading nooks, art work, a lounge area, a snack bar and TV monitors that will list major events coming up at the shop, plus activities at parishes around the Upstate, Dudley explained. He envisions event speakers and book signings in this area.

The flex space also will feature an open section perfect for milling around and socializing — a place where conversations can take wing and flourish.

“It’s sort of like a beacon or an oasis,” Dudley said. “We want to be inviting, let them in and let them learn.”

Not just Catholics, Dudley said. Everybody.

“It will be a beautiful place where they can discover Catholicism and explore Christianity,” he added.

The men stressed that Veritas sees this South Main shop as a gentle calling to Christ. This is not an in-your-face place; it will be mellow, Dudley and Owens promise.

“It is not going to be threatening at all,” Dudley said. “We want people to experience community, regardless of their background.”

That is why the storefront volunteers will be so crucial to this Catholic hub. They will ask questions, getting visitors to think about their faith and where it can lead. Dudley and Owens hope that ultimately the road can wind closer to Christ.

Walls adorned by artwork to make the soul rejoice will be a wonderful ice-breaker.

“We plan to have beautiful religious art,” Dudley said. “And as time goes by, local art,” he added.

“Maybe do small chorus groups to draw people,” he added, along with lunch-and-learns, Bible studies and prayer groups.

“The flex space is a place for community,” Dudley said, adding that an oratory will lie beyond the flex room. “It will have double doors with a rose window next to it. We want to make this a very beautiful room.”

The oratory will be a place for focus groups, Scripture discussion and Liturgy of the Hours.

“We’re beyond excited,” he said.

The Veritas vision is a Catholic resource center for young, old, Christian or no faith at all. It will be a chance for people to be part of events that bolster their faith and to hear riveting speakers. Plenty of work still needs to be done on this Catholic information center. For one thing, Veritas is still searching for a name to hang on its storefront.

Dudley said he hopes for a Nov. 1 grand opening, but that is not set in stone. 

The tedious part, however, is done. Veritas has found an incredible opportunity to evangelize directly in the heart of downtown Greenville.

“And it doesn’t hurt that we are right next door to the candy store,” Dudley joked.

Jesus must be smiling. He surely had a hand in picking this sweet opportunity of a site.

Joseph Reistroffer is a long-time writer who teaches religious education classes at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Email him at