Faith Based

As we prepare to celebrate our 25th anniversary, we find ourselves reminiscing on the early days of our business. Come along with us on a walk down memory lane and take a look at what the newspapers were saying about us in the early 2000s!

Ed Carmichael (from left), Sterling VanDerwerker, chief executive manager, and Brian Wilson, store manager, of Royal Diadem Jewelers on New Garden Road in Greensboro.


This blog post is a transcription of an article that appeared in the Triad Business News on June 7, 2002.

Everyday business practices are tied to Christian principles


GREENSBORO - A lot of businesspeople in the Triad go to church, but the majority don't openly market their business as a Christian company.

Many area businesses, however, openly acknowledge their religious commitment and try to network with, and do business with, other Christian-oriented companies. Some Triad companies advertise themselves as Christian real estate firms, plumbing services and law firms. There are also Christian-based counselors, optometrists, and health clubs - even Christian pest control businesses.

Some of these companies give no indication of religion in their name. With others, the name is a dead giveaway: such as Redeemed Heating and Air, Samson & The Lion Natural Food and Trinity Plumbing & Well Pump Co.

Royal Diadem Jewelers on New Gard Road in Greensboro doesn't shy away from making it known that the people there are Christian-oriented. Sterling VanDerwerker, chief executive manager, and Brian Wilson, store manager, are churchgoers. In fact, the met in a Sunday school class a few years ago at the Baptist church they both attend.

The store's pricing policy and business strategies -- in fact, all aspects of the business -- are guided by Christian principles. Don't even call Sterling VanDerwerker the owner of the store, though the state of North Carolina might. "Sterling likes to say 'God owns the business, but his and his wife's name is on the bottom line.'" Wilson said.

A Royal Diadem Jewelers newspaper ad from 2000, advertising a one day show featuring a local designer

Business decisions at this jewelry store are guide by the Bible. Take: "Thou shalt not lie."

"Our pricing policy is guided by Christian principles" Wilson said, "We think it would be blatantly deceptive to do what a lot of stores do. They mark up jewelry above the real price and then set the price at 50 percent off of the marked up price so that the customers feel as thought they are getting a deal. The price I put on it is not a lie."

On Nov. 1 each year. the store does have a half-price-off sale on items that have not moved. But that's half the real price they have been charging. "If something hasn't sold in six months or a year, it makes sense for us to get those items off the shelves at a reduced price and get in something that people want." he said.

The store also tries to do business with or Christian businesses when possible.

For instance, Royal Diadem used to advertise in one Triad publication until the publication ran an article the two considered offensive to Christianity. They took their ads to other publications. "We photocopied the receipts of what we spent and sent it to them with a note that said 'There is the money you lost.' " he said, "Not that it was a huge amount, but we wanted to make a point."

Wilson said he does not initiate discussion of religion with customers but will express his views if the issue comes up in conversation.

For instance, if a customer asks what the name of the business -- Royal Diadem -- means, he'll tell them "Diadem" is the biblical name for the crown Jesus will be wearing when He comes back, Wilson said. "It comes from the hymn 'All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name,' " he said. "There is a line in there that says 'bring forth the royal Diadem and crown Him lord of all.' "

There are a lot of other businesses in the Triad that are also religious. The Shepherd's Guide is a sort of Christian "Yellow Pages" that lists Christian auto mechanics, psychiatrists, travel agencies, etc., in a effort to draw the businesses together in one easy directory. 

An ad for line of Mokemé Gané bridal jewelry, highlighting the store's commitment to Biblical marriage. 

Nationally, the guide is distributed to over 3.5 million families in 125 metropolitan areas throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Each area has a different version that lists local companies. The Shepherd's Guide was first published in 1980 in Baltimore, Md.

There has been a Triad version of the publication for 11 years. Published by Vernon and Mary Porter of Greensboro, this year's Triad version came out in February. The guide's stated purpose is "to strengthen, edify, and unite the Body of Christ by providing a vehicle by which Christian consumers can find Christian professionals in every area of business and ministry." It adds: "You can trust our advertisers!"

''l think Christians want to do business with other Christians for a combination of reasons," Vernon Porter said. "For one thing, they want someone they can trust. And they want to support other Christians.

"The whole idea behind it is to help people identify Christian businesses," he said. "The Shepherd's Guide logo contained in each of the ads indicates that they have signed our Statement of Faith."

The Statement of Faith, which is printed on the first page of the guide, states, "I have received Jesus Christ as my personal savior'' and also pledges that business managers and owners will hold to "the highest Biblical code of ethics in my business transactions," and that clients will be treated with "the utmost respect and integrity."

Porter said that, legally, he can't exclude any business that wants to advertise in the guide, but the logo indicates they have signed the Statement of Faith. So far, no non-Christian businesses have asked to advertise in the book.

"There's no guarantee that they are being honest when they sign," he said. "But if they aren't, they have to answer to the Holy Ghost."

He also interviews the companies included in the guide in order to make sure he's comfortable putting the logo on their ad. "A lot of times, in the regular Yellow Pages, you see people who have used a Christian symbol in the ad," he said. "But I know from the way I've been treated by some of those businesses that they didn't mean it."

He said the guide is particularly helpful in areas where there has been low consumer trust. ''I have a roofer in there who gets a call about every day because there have been some unscrupulous people in the industry," he said.

Porter said that each year he and his wife publish about 50,000 copies of the Triad version of the guide. About 27,000 of those are distributed through the churches. The rest are distributed through businesses such a Christian bookstores and family-style restaurants.

Tony Alford runs an ad for Ministrytec in The Shepherd's Guide. His Internet business can be found online at He tries to bring churches into the digital age. "We provide the churches not only with a web page but also with an intranet," Alford said. Each member of the church is given a user name and password; it's like a small AOL community. The church pays for the service, and then it is free to individual members of that church.

"Through the church Website and intranet, people can then go to message boards, post prayer requests, see who is available in the congregation to baby-sit, and so on," he said. "They can even, if it is posted that someone is sick, send an e-card to them . ... "

Dean's Office Machines, at 1035 Winston St. in Greensboro, has signed the Statement of Faith in The Shepherd's Guide and does business in both Christian and secular markets.

"We do a lot of work with the church community;" said Steve Cobb, president of Dean's Office Machines. ''It's not our primary market, but it's a big market for us. We do it for the churches as more of a service than to make money. We will provide some things at very low costs sometime to churches that can't afford it. What we've found is that when we do that for them, we get some business from the members of those churches.

"I think ethics is the No. 1 concern and why people like dealing with Christian businesses," he said. "A common belief is the other thing. You just like to deal with people that you share a common ground with." The company has 29 employees. "We advertise on Christian radio stations and on other stations as well," he said.

Some organizations are a little cautious of too much overlap between business and religion.

Rob Mitchell, metro-leader for the Christian Business Men's Committee (CBMC), said his organization doesn't discourage members from doing business with other members, but it does discourage members soliciting business from other members.

Mitchell makes it clear that this is not a networking organization. CBMC wants to be "impacting the world by saturating the business and professional community with the gospel of Jesus Christ," according to the organization 's mission statement.

"We had one member who was soliciting everybody in the group," he said. ''l had to take him aside and ask him to stop. He was a little put off by that."

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