ABS to move headquarters to Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (BP) -- After nearly 200 years in New York City, the American Bible Society has announced a relocation of its headquarters to Philadelphia.

Though the ministry will "maintain a presence" in New York, it will open a 10,000-square-foot office in Philadelphia's historic district this summer, according to an ABS news release.

"For 20 decades, American Bible Society has worked to make the Bible available where needed most so that all may experience its life-changing message," ABS President and CEO Roy Peterson said. "As we work toward the goal of having 100 million Americans engaging with God's Word and 100 percent of the world's languages open for Bible engagement, our new Philadelphia headquarters will become the launching pad for Bible ministry in the U.S. and around the world."

ABS works to distribute Scripture across the world and equip Bible translators, according to the organization's website.

ABS leaders selected Philadelphia as the site of their new headquarters because of "strategic collaboration opportunities, affordability and livability" among other considerations, the news release said.

In addition to ministry offices, the new ABS facility may include a Bible Discovery Center, a rare Scriptures depository and a scholarly working library.

"We are thrilled that we will be starting a third century of service headquartered here in Philadelphia," Peterson said. "Home to America's first hopes as a new nation, Philadelphia is now home to a very bright future for American Bible Society."

In recent years, ABS has experienced some upheaval, with Peterson taking over as president last February following the firing of Douglas Birdsall after just six months on the job. Prior to his service at ABS, Birdsall served as executive chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and organized the Lausanne Movement's 2010 congress in Cape Town, South Africa. At the time of Birdsall's firing, WORLD News Service reported that ABS had operated for at least two years with budget deficits.

ABS's history includes a long relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention. During the 20th century, some Southern Baptist churches sent money to the SBC Executive Committee designated for ABS, and the EC forwarded the funds. Through 1998, ABS reported to messengers at each SBC annual meeting. However, ABS reports were discontinued when the annual meeting was shortened from three days to two. Among the reasons for eliminating the reports was to provide more focus on giving through the Cooperative Program.

Between 1846 and 1991, the SBC adopted 48 resolutions affirming ABS's ministry.

Compiled by David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.
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