BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS | Kaley Payne
Wednesday 30 December 2015
One of the significant challenges of our time is to persuade people that the Bible is good, says Bible Society CEO Greg Clarke. It’s a challenge he intends to take up again in 2016.
“Showcasing what the Bible has given to our society thus far, and how it holds the answers to many of the problems we face today is as important as ever,” says Dr Clarke.
“We’re entering a new battle of the books as people start to see the impact that different world views have on the kinds of societies that they generate. Our view is that the Bible builds a society that flourishes and individuals who value love, life, kindness, humility … all the sorts of things that we’re in desperate need of today.
“The Bible for us is more and more a social document that not only is a message of salvation but also one of transformation and change at a time when people are fearful of the kind of society that is now developing. All of our mission projects work towards this end. We believe in the transformative power of the Bible to speak into people’s circumstances, where they are, here and now.”
With that in mind, keep an eye out for some exciting things from Bible Society Australia in 2016.
1. We’re on the road to 200!
It’s Bible Society Australia’s 199th year of operation in 2016 and Greg Clarke says it “feels like we’re on the edge of something amazing.” BSA will release a programme of bicentenary activities early in the new year so supporters can see the plans for 2017’s 200th birthday celebrations.
“Our hope is that as we move towards our bicentenary, that we will be able to benefit and bless the churches, Christian organisations and individual believers of Australia. We want the 200 year celebrations to be more about the Bible than the Bible Society,” says Dr Clarke.
“This isn’t just our party – it’s a party for everyone who cares about the Bible. We hope that our bicentenary is an excuse to elevate the value of the Bible in our country.”
2. We’ll be getting the Word out to South Africa
It’s more fun doing things together, and that includes fundraising! In 2016, Bible Society Australia is partnering with its South African counterpart to help Get The Word Out to South Africa, a nation still struggling with the effects of inequality, more than two decades after the end of apartheid.
Get The Word Out to South Africa has two projects helping children get a better head-start, both spiritually and in their education. And there’s a life-changing programme that takes God’s word into South African prisons.
3. We’re expanding our Christian bookselling
In 2015, Bible Society Australia acquired Koorong, Australia’s leading Christian retailer, in a deal to increase access to the Bible and Christian resources both within Australia and around the world, in places where God’s word is most in need. Greg Clarke says we will be building on the great foundations laid in 2015.
“We’re looking forward to expanding our Christian book selling in the new year, through Koorong, and keeping the Bible at the front and centre of what Koorong is doing – both physically in the stores and also in our promotions. We want to keep the Bible prominent.
“Over time you’re going to see more opportunities to support Bible Society work through Koorong purchases. Already, you can make donations online as you make your book purchases.”
In addition, says Dr Clarke, stay tuned for Bible Society’s own new bookselling website which will be released in the new year.
4. We’re looking forward to the new Centre For Public Christianity documentary
“We’ll be watching with great interest the development of the Centre For Public Christianity’s documentary on the history of Christianity, a project Bible Society is proudly supporting,” says Dr Clarke.
The documentary, titled For The Love of God – how the church is better and worse than you ever imagined is currently in production, and has been described by the Centre’s executive director Simon Smart as a “warts and all account” of Christianity.
“Ultimately, we want people to think again before they swallow the popular wisdom about the damage Christianity might have done and to have a more informed understanding of its contributions. Perhaps it will encourage them to think Christianity might be worth a second look,” Mr Smart told Bible Society earlier this year.
Expect to see plenty of leaked video footage as the CPX team travels the world speaking to some of Christianity’s best historians and theologians for the making of the documentary.
5. We’re creating a new digital platform for Christian news
“We’re very excited about new digital projects and products in the pipeline, including the development of the Eternity News platform online in 2016, thanks to a generous grant from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation,” says Dr Clarke.
The Eternity News team, supported by Bible Society Australia, will be looking at new ways to create shareable content that promotes Christianity and the good works that God is doing in Australia and around the world.
“We’re putting more resources into the digital world because we know more and more that’s the place where people will encounter God’s word and wrestle with the hard questions of life, and be inspired to live lives that are pleasing to God,” says Dr Clarke.
6. We’re looking at new ways to engage our kids with the Bible
Already, Bible Society is involved in Bible engagement for youth, but Dr Clarke says that taking up the job of educating school children about the importance of the Bible in understanding their world is “one we mustn’t neglect.”
In 2015, Bible Society convened a meeting of academics, teachers and Christian providers from around Australia to discuss the possibilities and effectiveness of teaching the Bible in schools. In the new year, says Dr Clarke, there’s more work to be done in uncovering new and innovative ways to increase Bible literacy in Australian schools.
7. We’ll be publishing more of the Bible in Indigenous languages
“We’ve got several Indigenous Bible projects that are entering an exciting phase,” says Dr Clarke. In particular, he highlights the work on the Pitjantjatjara Old Testament, and the publication of the Book of Daniel in the language of the Aboriginal people of central Australia.
So far, the Pitjantjatjara people have a complete New Testament and about 15 per cent of the Old Testament. 1 Samuel is next on the translation list. Work in the new year, says Dr Clarke, is “another step in our journey towards having a complete, traditional language Aboriginal Bible for the Pitjantjatjara people.”