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Ceylon Bible Society marks two centuries of service

Satisfaction for Ceylon Bible Society on its bicentennial

Traditional dancers entertained guests at the Ceylon Bible Society's choral celebration (Photo courtesy of Ceylon Bible Society) Traditional dancers entertained guests at the Ceylon Bible Society's choral celebration (Photo courtesy of Ceylon Bible Society)
  • ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
  • Sri Lanka
  • August 23, 2012
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As it celebrates its bicentennial, the Ceylon Bible Society can look back on the past 200 years with a sense of solid achievement.

Its establishment in 1812 makes it the oldest registered organization of any kind in Sri Lanka, by a considerable margin. That alone is a source of satisfaction, especially given the turbulent chapters of Sri Lankan history it has lived through.

In fact, adversity has often made it adaptable and flexible in its ongoing mission to distribute as many bibles as possible to the maximum number of people.

“During the last stages of the civil war many people lost everything and went to camps for displaced persons, “ said Lakshani P. Fernando, the Society’s general secretary. “We made them accessible, small bibles which were easy for them to carry around."

Today, the biggest challenge it faces is not the civil war but the battle for the hearts and minds of the younger generation.

“They are moving away from the bible so we are making modifications, such as giving them online access to it,” said Lakshani. “And in former war torn areas, most of them lack IT and English skills, so we’re planning to start training programs for them.”

Meanwhile, it continues as always with its core activity of translating, publishing and distributing scriptural materials.

In 2011 alone, 73,592 bibles, 9,884 New Testaments and 24,569 bible extracts were sold by the CBS at concessionary rates. It offers Tamil, Sinhala and English editions and also produces Braille and audio versions.

The CBS is non-denominational, so it was appropriate that leaders from all branches of Christianity attended the choral celebration of its bicentennial at Colombo’s Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour earlier this month.

The cathedral was packed with an invited audience who enjoyed the keynote speech from Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, a moving performance from a deaf and blind school, an uplifting rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus by the Trinity College choir and a display of  traditional Sri Lankan dance by a local women’s college.

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