what we do
- History of BSR:
The United Bible Societies (UBS) traces its beginnings to the founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) in 1804. The organisation itself did not come into being until 1946, though there were earlier calls for such a ‘World Federation of Bible Societies’ in 1910, and much later at a conference in Woudschoten, Netherlands in 1939. Following the urgings of Hendrik Kraemer, it was resolved then to form a ‘Council of Bible Societies’. The outbreak of war in Europe meant that was not implemented. However in Haywards Heath, Sussex in May 1946, in the first non-governmental international conference in Britain since the end of the war, representatives of 13 national Bible Societies decided to form UBS.
The bicentenary celebrations of BFBS in 2004 gave UBS, by then a global fellowship of 145 national Bible Societies, an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the past, but equally to examine its role and ministry in a changed and changing world. The UBS World Assembly held in Newport, Wales in 2004 reaffirmed the fraternity’s nature and purpose in the following terms: The world fellowship of national Bible Societies joins together, as the United Bible Societies, for consultation, mutual support and action in their common task of achieving the widest possible, effective and meaningful distribution of the Holy Scriptures and of helping people interact with the Word of God.
The Bible Societies seek to carry out their task in partnership and co-operation with all Christian churches and with church related organisations. Assembly theme was ‘The Unchanging Word for a Changing World’—the Word unchanging in truth, power and purpose—“what the Bible wants of us, what it impels us toward…is agreement with the direction in which it looks itself. And the direction it looks is to the living Christ.” (Karl Barth).
The UBS response to the changing mission landscape meant recovering Biblical patterns for mission:
- God’s mission is the source of mission.
- Jesus Christ is the embodiment of mission.
- The Holy Spirit is the power for mission.
- The Church is the instrument of mission.
- Cultures are the context in which mission takes place