On the 31st of May the Cadets of the 4th year of the Hellenic Army Academy (Evelpidon) visited his Eminence Metropolitan of Didymoteichon, Orestias and Souflion Mr. Damaskinos, who are currently carrying out their standard/established educational trip at the Turkish borders in Evros. His Eminence had the opportunity to welcome and guide them to the Holy Cathedral of Panagia Eleftherotria of Didymoteichon, where the Ecclesiastical Museum is, and to tell them about both the history and the monuments of the place.
The Cadets of the HAA were accompanied by their Commander, Major General Charalambos Lalousis, who served as a Commander of the XVI Division, based in Didimotichon. His Eminence offered to the Commander of the HAA a copy of the icon of the Hieromartyr Saint Cyril VI Patriarch of Constantinople, who was hanged in Adrianople on April 18, 1821, while distributed the New Testament in a military variation to the students, offer of the Hellenic Bible Society and wished them all the best for their lives.
On Thursday 24th of May 2018, the chairman of the General Committee of the Hellenic Bible Society His Eminence Metropolitan of Demetrias Mr. Ignatios, the chairman of the Board of the HBS and Moderator of the Executive Committee of the General Synod of the Evangelical Church of Greece Rev. Meletios Meletiadis, the vice president of the General Assembly of the HBS Catholic Archbishop of Corfu, Ionian islands and Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Thessaloniki his Excellency Ioannis Spiteris and the General Secretary of the HBS Mr. Michail Chatzigiannis, at their request, they were received by his Excellency the President of Greece, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
The purpose of the visit was to inform him of the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Ionian Bible Society in Corfu, the first Bible Society in our country, the organic continuation of which, is the Hellenic Bible Society and to invite him to honor with his presence the central event of the Anniversary, which is scheduled to take place on June 19th, 2019 at the Athens Concert Hall.
The President of Greece accepted the invitation and wished every success in the work of the Hellenic Bible Society and the upcoming events that will be held in different cities for this important anniversary. He warmly congratulated the attendees, because the HBS is the only official, acceptable and effective institution of cooperation of the great ecclesiastical traditions that honors Christianity and is rightly honored for its work.
The meeting took place in a beautiful atmosphere and the President of Greece showed that not only did he know the important work of the Hellenic Bible Society, the constant presence of the biblical work in our country as it has been worked and has constantly been expressed since 1819 to the present day, but also encouraged its representatives to continue their valuable and admirable offer in the field of reconciliation, brotherhood and cooperation among all the Christians of Greece.
More than 20% of all Bibles distributed by the United Bible Societies (UBS) fellowship in 2017 were downloaded from the internet. It’s the first time Scripture downloads have been recorded separately by Bible Societies – and it shows that online distribution is increasingly significant.
While overall Scripture distribution fell by 12% globally, the number of full Bibles made available around the world topped 34 million for the third year running. Of these, more than 7.9 million Bibles were downloaded, primarily on apps such as YouVersion. In total, more than 107 million full Bibles have been distributed by the UBS fellowship since 2015.
Nearly 355 million Scripture items, including Bibles, Testaments, Gospels and smaller Scripture items like booklets for people learning to read, were distributed (or downloaded) in 2017. UBS continues to be largest translator and distributor of Scripture on the planet; around 70% of the world’s full Bible translations have been provided by Bible Societies.
The figures are compiled from annual Scripture distribution numbers reported by Bible Societies around the world, and include local sales and exports of Scripture material and unique internet downloads.
God’s Word at our fingertips
The full Bible was downloaded more than 7.9 million times in 2017 as unique downloads – but this is a conservative figure and it’s likely the real number of downloads was much higher. Around 90 Bible Societies are now making their Scripture translations available online, using hundreds of different websites, such as bibles.org, and apps such as YouVersion. In addition, more than three-quarters of Bible Societies have received training in how to make the Bible available digitally.
The Europe-Middle East region had the highest proportion of Bible downloads; 44% of all Bibles distributed there were provided online. But the Americas saw the biggest number of Bible downloads – some 5.4 million.
The download data for 2017 has been collated from YouVersion and tracking within individual Bible Societies. It errs on the conservative side, with downloads under- counted, but the data collection is a step forward from last year – and will become increasingly accurate in the coming years.
Most Bible Societies now store their texts in the Digital Bible Library (DBL), which is developed and maintained by UBS in partnership with other Bible agencies. It was launched in 2011 and has grown rapidly since then, making the Bible more accessible than ever before. By the end of 2017, the DBL contained 1,735 Scripture texts in 1,269 languages, spoken by 5.6 billion people.
Scriptures for conflict zones
More people are displaced today than ever before; an unprecedented 65.6 million people have been forced from their homes around the world. It’s a humanitarian crisis that has touched almost every region of the world. And it’s led to a huge demand for Scripture among people who long for God’s comfort, hope and healing.
In South Sudan, where four million people have been driven from their homes, Scripture distribution has increased dramatically. The Bible Society there has distributed more than 250,000 Bibles since the conflict began in December 2013, compared with an average of around 6,000 Bibles a year before the war started.
After four years of conflict in eastern Ukraine, 4.4 million people are in a ‘dire humanitarian situation’, according to the United Nations. Last year, the Ukrainian Bible Society distributed more than 190,000 Scriptures, many of them to people affected by the fighting, including refugees, soldiers and hospital patients. Half of those distributed were special editions of the New Testament, including a waterproof one for the military and another that highlights verses about hope.
“Amid tension, people are looking for the comfort and stability that is found in the Word of God,” said Bible Society General Secretary Rev Oleksandr Babiychuk.
Meanwhile, two million Scripture items, including more than 350,000 full Bibles, have been distributed in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq since conflict hit the region in 2011. A record number of Scripture portions – 200,281 – were distributed in Syria in 2017. George Andrea, who leads the team of four Bible Society staff in Syria, said the Aleppo bookshop has remained open almost every day throughout seven years of war.
“During Christmas we organised our greatest distribution ever,” said George. “You should see the children when they receive these gifts. They feel the Bible is a gift from God, special for them. In this way, we give children hope that God will help them pass through this bad time.”
15 million print Bibles in five nations
Five countries accounted for more than 40% of the global distribution of full printed Bibles by Bible Societies.
From the 3rd until the 6th of May 2018, the 15th International Book Fair was held in Thessaloniki International Exhibition & Congress Centre (HELEXPO), which is the most important annual event for the book and its professionals that is organized in our country. The Exhibition is organized by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture in collaboration with the HELEXPO, the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the Associations of both Greek and independent publishers, with the support of the Hellenic Parliament and under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. This year 285 publishers from Greece and abroad participated and thousands of people of all ages visited the Exhibition.
The Hellenic Bible Society, which has been involved in recent years, was present with its publications in the central booth of En Plo Publications, along with other publishers of Christian books. In the especially designed space, we were able to present our new edition “The Illustrated Bible” in two separate events – for different audiences.
During the first two mornings, schools mainly visited the Exhibition, so on Friday, May 4, the B3 class of the 19th High School of Thessaloniki (Marasleios) accompanied by the theologian-professor Maria Farsiarotou attended and participated in the first out of the two events. Prior to commencement, George Sochos, sales and communication manager of the Hellenic Bible Society, briefly referred to the Society’s work and activities.
The speakers, who were the School Advisor of Theologians of Central Macedonia, Maria Syrgianni and the Board members of the Hellenic Bible Society Charalambos Atmatzidis, associate professor of the Theological Faculty of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Aikaterini Tsalambouni, assistant professor of the Department of Pastoral and Social Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, managed with the lively discussion and the biblical references to hold the students’ interest and to help them better understand the content and message of the Bible. In the end, students were particularly pleased for the offer of a copy of the “Illustrated Bible” for their school library.
On Sunday afternoon, May 6th, the second event was held- the book presentation. The General Secretary of the Hellenic Bible Society Michail Chatzigiannis after welcoming the attendees, he presented the two speakers: Miltiadis Konstantinou, Dean of the Theological Faculty of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who stressed the importance and necessity of the translation of the Holy Bible and Panagiotis Yfantis, Deputy Professor of the Theological Faculty of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who referred to the special role that illustration plays in the understanding and interpretation of the biblical text.