Portland society celebrates 200 years of Bible work

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PORTLAND — The Bible Society of Maine is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year with a display at the Portland Public Library and a bicentennial dinner reception.

The society, located at 519 Congress St., donates thousands of Bibles each year to Maine prisons, church outreach programs and Seafarer’s Friend, a ministry providing outreach for Merchant Mariners.

Sally Trice, the administrator for the society, said she often receives requests for Bibles from outside Maine, and as far away as Thailand. 

Closer to home, the society is currently working with the Fire Chaplains of Maine Association to provide every firefighter in the state with a New Testament.

“We’ve helped them get 1,600 so far,” said Trice.

Seafarer’s Friend often requests foreign language Bibles. Last year Trice tracked down Bibles written in Icelandic, Korean, Turkish and Tagalog, among other languages.

“It cost $99 for an Icelandic Bible,” she said, explaining that it is often difficult to find foreign language Bibles.

In 2008, the Bible Society of Maine donated 1,200 Bibles and 750 partial scriptures. In conjunction with the American Bible Society, they donated another 1,000 Bibles.

A collection of Bibles and other documents from the society is now on display at the Portland Room, located in the public library. The display includes some books from the library’s collection as well.

The centerpiece of the society’s collection is the Large Handwritten Bible. Completed in 1924, the Bible is 22 inches by 28 inches and weighs 85 pounds. More than 1,600 people took part in writing the Bible, and several others drew pictures to go along with the text. At the time of its creation it was believed to be the largest Bible in the world.

Abraham Schechter, head of special collections at the library, said the display has been popular since going up earlier this summer. 

Schechter, who serves on an advisory board for the Bible society, said the Bible reflects how Mainers are nationalistic about their state. All the pages are written by residents or Maine college students. Gov. Percival Baxter wrote one page, a prisoner wrote another and a Reverend and a Rabbi shared a page.

The Bible Society of Maine will celebrate its bicentennial year Aug. 13 with a dinner and reception at Keely the Katerer, located on Warren Avenue. Tickets cost $35. For more information call 772-8566.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net




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bible 009.jpgThe Portland Room at the Portland Public Library is currently displaying a collection of Bibles and other documents having to do with the Bible Society of Maine, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary. The collection include the Large Handwritten Bible, which was written by 1,607 people.