BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS | John Sandeman
Thursday 24 November 2016
“After 200 years, we’re here for good” is the Bible Society Australia’s campaign focus for 2017, to mark the bicentenary of the Christian organisation’s work in Australia.
At a special launch event this week in Sydney for the 200th anniversary, Bible Society CEO Greg Clarke described BSA as “a mature-aged organisation with the energy of a teenager”.
“We are Australia’s longest living organisation – one month older than the oldest bank,” shared Greg. But while 2017 will be a huge year for Bible Society Australia, it wants the focus to be on the Bible, not just BSA’s major birthday. “We want everyone who supports the Judeo-Christian scriptures to celebrate. We want to serve the spread of the word.”
The Bible Society went back to where it all began, hosting its launch celebration at the Museum of Sydney. The museum sits above the foundations of Australia’s first government house, which is where the first meeting to launch the Bible Society was probably held. “Governor Macquarie was our first patron, and a major donor,” Clarke added. “Those colonials were good at keeping their records, so we know.” All those 200 years ago, several of the directors of the Bible Society met again the next month to found the Bank of New South Wales, today’s Westpac.
“200 years? They say a week is a long time in politics,” said guest of honour NSW Premier Mike Baird. He was asked by BSA chair Richard Grellman what it was like to have taken one year off to study the Bible. “It was fantastic” said Baird. “It was while I was at Deutsche Bank: we used to discuss our deals at our morning meetings. ‘I am going to go to Bible College’ was a real show stopper.”
The Bible still gives meaning to his life, said the NSW Premier. “You know you are having a bad week in politics when your friends start texting you verses.”
“I go back to 2 Samuel 23 where King David talks a lot about leadership when it is done in the name of the Lord.”
“It is a reminder that if you follow the Lord by being close to him, you can be a ‘light in the darkness’. The world is craving for light. There is a lot of deep darkness.”
“Does God’s word help steer you in your job” asked Grellman. “Yes. Yes, Yes.” was the emphatic answer Baird provided, before giving three examples of how the Bible drove him towards compassion (such as “To be concerned for these without food or clothes.”)
“The medical cannabis debate is an example,” continued the Premier. “I was struck by the testimony and example of a young man who made a submission.
“Or refugees, when they came here they used to have to pay full transport fares. We thought if we could take that cost away, the services helping them would have more for food and clothing.
“When we had to choose between two railways stations at Sydney University or Waterloo, we went with Waterloo because it meant that we could re-do 2000 houses that are terrible, that no-one should be living in.”
For the 200th anniversary year, Greg Clarke listed listed four main priorities for BSA and its supporters:
- Distributing the Bible: with Amity Press in China (which produced its 150 millionth Bible this year) as a prime example.
- Engaging in the public square: “Elevating the beauty, truth and goodness of the Bible.”
- “Making noise” about the Bible and creating great resources.
- Promoting literacy “which draws people out of poverty, using Bible-based material to teach them to read”.