Celebrating 200 years of the good book in Australia

NSW Premier attends gala launch of Bible Society birthday

2017 is set to be a year of celebrating the Bible. Next year marks the 200th anniversary of Bible Society Australia, but it wants the focus to be on the Bible, not just the major birthday.

“We are Australia’s longest living organisation – one month older than the oldest bank,” Bible Society CEO Greg Clarke told a launch celebration last night in Sydney. “But we want everyone who supports the Judeo-Christian scriptures to celebrate. We want to serve the spread of the word.”

Greg Clarke addresses the crowd at the launch of Bible Society's 200 Stories campaign

Greg Clarke addresses the crowd at the launch of Bible Society’s 200 Bible Society Australia

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.

“You know you are having a bad week in politics when your friends start texting you verses.” – Mike Baird

“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.”

One of the Macquarie Bibles

One of the Macquarie Bibles Bible Society Australia

“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.”)

“After 200 years, we’re here for good.” – Greg Clarke

“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.”

“After 200 years, we’re here for good” is the Bible Society’s campaign focus for 2017. “We are a mature aged organisation with the energy of a teenager” said Greg Clarke who listed listed four main priorities.

  • 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”.

Get ready to celebrate the Bible in 2017 at bible.com.au

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