Only a few days remain before the 200th anniversary of Bible Societies, and Bible Societies throughout the world are preparing for the global day of celebration.
From its birth on March 7, 1804, up to now there have been 136 national Bible Societies established working in more than 200 countries and territories. The Bible Societies, collectively known as the United Bible Societies, will each be holding their own celebrations in their respective countries.
Some of the national activities to take place this month were reported as follows:
Professor Marie Bashir, governor of New South Wales (NSW), will officially open Bible Society’s new offices in Macquarie Park on Sunday, March 7th at 2PM on the same date as the 200th anniversary of Bible Society.
"With Sunday the 200th anniversary of the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society in London in 1804, this is a very fitting day for us to open our new building," said Bible Society NSW CEO, Daniel Willis. "The NSW branch opened 13 years later in 1817," he said.
Bible Society NSW moved from their previous offices at 95 Bathurst Street at the beginning of the year after 65 years opposite St Andrew's Cathedral and Town Hall Square.
This year sees the start of three years of celebration for the CBS, culminating in the centennial of their founding. 2004 also marks the tenth year of Proclamation, the Society’s highly successful public Bible reading program, and in May there is a major Bible translation symposium in Montreal.
The Bible Society in Congo is planning an Expo Bible Project, an exhibition aimed at highlighting the importance and the place of the Bible in history and contemporary society.
The Olympic Games are to be held in Greece this coming August and to coincide with the historic event, the Greek Bible Society is mounting a multimedia exhibition about the history and content of the Bible in an ultra-modern conference center in Volos, about 190 miles north of Athens. Bible work in Greece began only four years after the foundation of the British and Foreign Bible Society and part of the exhibition will cover its long history.
This month, the Bible Society in Kazakhstan celebrates its 10th anniversary and members will be holding a special meeting to mark the anniversary. The Society will publish a book recounting the history of its first ten years and a number of churches will hold fundraising Bible Sundays.
Bible Society of Malawi (BSM) will hold a special church service on March 8th, combining the bicentenary celebrations with their 80th anniversary of the Chichewa Bible. Kamwana Muyaya, of the BSM, declared, "Through the service we intend to make the entire country aware of the work of the worldwide Bible Society movement. We want to remind the Church of the importance of the Bible in their work and find out the position of the Bible in their ministry."
For the Netherlands, 2004 means two reasons to celebrate ?Ethe bicentenary of the worldwide Bible Society movement and the national Society’s own 190th anniversary. To mark the two birthdays, the Bible Society is going to hold two days devoted to its volunteers over March 26-27. The Society is hoping that the Dutch Prime Minister, Christian Democrat leader Jan Peter Balkenende, will accept its invitation to be the guest speaker.
The Bible Society of South Africa (BSSA) wants to get people walking ?Eto remember Mary Jones and raise funds.
Neville Turley of the BSSA says, "Mary Jones walked for a Bible for herself; we invite people to walk for a Bible for others. Walks are easy to organize, popular among all age-groups and a great way of promoting fellowship." He recalls how residents at an old people’s home went around the corridors in their wheelchairs and accepted their medals with pride at the finishing line. "It is a great way to recruit new donors as well as to get into a school or a church which may not have supported the Bible Society cause before."
A campaign using popular public figures to promote Bible reading is among a range of bicentenary projects being developed by the Bible Societies?ESouth America regional center. “The Bible Is My Guide?Ewill convey the simple message that the featured personality regards the Bible as "my guide" and posters are likely to play a central role. For example, a poster of a star Christian football player will carry the words "Football is my passion, the Bible is my guide," together with contact details for the Bible Society. The project will also extend to products such as caps and T-shirts just saying "The Bible is My Guide".
In addition, billboards and illuminated signs focusing on 200 years of Bible work are being made visible in the main public places of capital cities of countries in South America throughout 2004. There will also be a smaller version for display by churches and other Christian organizations.
The Swiss have also announced a musical competition as part of the bicentenary program. Entrants are being asked to compose a special piece of music based on Psalm 116, the winning composition to be given its first performance in Basel Cathedral on November 13, 2004. The cathedral will also be the location of a thanksgiving service for the work of the Swiss Bible Society on the following day.