Three days of special observances climaxed the American Bible Society’s commemoration of its 150th anniversary last month. Heading the list of guest participants were the Archbishop of York, Dr. F. Donald Coggan, and evangelist Billy Graham.

Graham addressed the 150th annual meeting of the society held May 12 in Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall. The day before, a special service was conducted at the New York City Hall with Mayor John V. Lindsay. The day following, an anniversary dinner was held at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Also part of the commemoration is a year-long promotional campaign by the society in behalf of the Bible. There has been wide use of the mass media, plus special displays across the country and numerous localized observances. Friends of the society helped to persuade Congress and President Johnson to designate 1966 as “the Year of the Bible.”

Attention to the Scriptures took a fresh turn, meanwhile, as Richard Cardinal Cushing, Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, gave his imprimatur to a special edition of the Oxford Annotated Bible. The OAB uses the Protestant-oriented Revised Standard Version of the Scriptures. Cushing’s approval covers “common usage,” such as in home Bible reading and study groups. It does not extend to liturgical use.

Graham’s address in New York hailed the American Bible Society as “one of the best evangelistic agencies in the history of the Christian church” and encouraged accelerated effort to stimulate a spiritual awakening through increased Scripture distribution programs.

Calling for a return to the absolutes of the Bible and the Sermon on the Mount, Graham declared: “Once you start reading the Bible and believe it, its absolutes become principles by which men lead their lives.”

Other portions of the program included selections by 300-voice Westminster Choir and the singing of a special “anniversary hymn” entitled “Give Men My Word!” written by the Rev. Frank von Christierson, United Presbyterian clergyman of Citrus Heights, California. It was one of 14 selected by the Hymn Society of America in a contest sponsored as part of the 150th anniversary year.

Following the meeting at Philharmonic Hall, a colorful procession of robed churchmen moved down Broadway to the society’s new Bible House building.

The society is the world’s largest nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to translating, publishing, and distributing the Scriptures. Its Scriptures appear without note or comment.

At the City Hall service, Mayor Lindsay, on behalf of New York’s 1,250,000 Spanish-speaking residents, accepted a copy of the society’s new Spanish Version Popular New Testament.

To meet the needs of non-English speaking people in the United States, the society distributed Scriptures in 220 languages and dialects during 1965. World distribution last year was in 417 languages and dialects in 150 countries and Scripture portions appeared for the first time in 18 additional languages.

At least one complete book of the Bible has now been published in 1,250 languages and dialects of the nearly 2,500 spoken in the world. The whole Bible has been published in 237 languages, the entire New Testament in 297 and at least a single Scripture book in an additional 716.

Distribution of Scriptures in 1965 by the society reached a record high, with 54,042,014 Bibles, Testaments, and portions put into circulation in the United States and around the world.

The total—nearly 5.5 million more than the 1964 distribution figure—passed the 50 million mark for the first time and was seen as a substantial step toward the current-year anniversary goal of distributing 75 million copies of Scripture.

In addition to attempting to increase sharply its distribution, society leaders have set as goals the hope to inspire 10 million persons to become regular Bible readers during the year and to place Bibles in all public and public school libraries.


Theodore A. Gill, currently on health leave from the presidency of San Francisco Theological Seminary (see January 7 issue, page 48), will become executive secretary of the World Council of Churches’ Joint Study Commission on Education. He will prepare a major report for presentation in 1968.

Donald Hustad, doctorate-holding organist for evangelist Billy Graham, returns to the academic life next year as a church music professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Kenneth G. Hanna, a local clergyman, was chosen president of Winnipeg (Manitoba) Bible College.

Maxie G. Smith, formerly a pastor in Glen Ellyn. Illinois, will be academic dean of Midwest Christian College, Oklahoma City.

The Religious Newswriters Association elected David Runge of the Milwaukee Journal as president for the next two years. The annual Supple award for excellence in the field went to Dan Thrapp of the Los Angeles Times.

Congregationalists in England and Wales renamed their national “Union” a “Church,” a move interpreted as a paving of the way for merger with other churches.

The Church of the Nazarene has chosen a 100-acre site in Pike’s Peak Park, Colorado, for a multi-million-dollar Bible college scheduled to open in September, 1967.

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Washington Star Religion Editor Caspar Nannes, one of the few newsmen in the nation to hold an earned doctorate, was chosen by his alma mater, Rutgers University, to receive an honorary doctor of letters degree as well. Nannes was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Rutgers and received his Ph. D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Enrollment in Presbyterian-related schools in the Congo jumped 63 per cent during the past year.


CORNELIUS JAARSMA, 69, former dean of the education department at Calvin College; in Grand Rapids, Michigan of a heart attack.

ANTON PEARSON, 56, professor of Old Testament at Bethel Theological Seminary; in St. Paul, Minnesota, after several weeks of hospitalization.

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