Milestones: Eighteen Decades of Bible Mission in Singapore and Beyond

2017 marks the 180th year that the Bible Society has been faithfully making God’s Word available and known in Singapore and among many other nations. Encouraged by faithful men such as Rev Dr Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary to China, and Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, it was instituted by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1837. Since then, God has graciously preserved the Society through various challenges, and expanded its scope and impact to what it is today. In commemoration of our 180th anniversary, here are some of the most significant milestones in the Society’s history. 

1800: 15-year-old Mary Jones trekked 42km barefooted to buy a Bible after saving up for six years. 

7 Mar 1804: Inspired by Mary Jones’ story, the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) was formed. 

1819: Morrison and his colleague, Rev William Milne, completed the translation of the whole Bible into Chinese; the same year Raffles founded modern Singapore. 

1823: The Bible Mission in Singapore commenced with Morrison’s distribution of 1,000 Chinese New Testaments to Chinese settlers there. 

1825: Morrison and Raffles urged the BFBS to send an Agent to Singapore to promote the Bible Mission in Eastern Asia. 

4 Jul 1837: The Singapore Auxiliary Bible Society was formally registered. 

1853: With support from the BFBS, Rev Benjamin P Keasberry published the New Testament in Romanised Malay. 

1882: John Haffenden arrived in Singapore as the Society’s first formally-appointed Agent. 

15 Nov 1907: The land at 7 Armenian Street was acquired. The Bible House, the Society’s permanent home, was completed two years later. 

1912: Commissioned by the BFBS, William G Shellabear completed a revised translation of the Malay Bible after 11 years of work. 

1913: Shellabear published the first Peranakan Bible in Baba Malay. 

1928: Ernest Tipson became the new Agent. His ministry among fellow prisoners during the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945) sowed the seeds for Trinity Theological College (TTC). 

1946: United Bible Societies was formed. Malaya was administered as a Joint Agency under the National Bible Society of Scotland (NBSS) and the BFBS. 

1948: Ian Morrison of the NBSS succeeded Tipson as Representative over the work in Malaya. 

1965: Rev Peter P K Hsieh succeeded Morrison, becoming the first local General Secretary of the Agency. 

1966: Following Singapore’s independence, the Agency’s name was changed to The Bible Societies of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. 

1967: Rev Khoo Siaw Hua was the first local to be appointed Chairman of the Society’s Advisory Council. 

12 Jun 1970: The Bible Society of Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei (BSSMB) was formally registered, with Rev Khoo as its first President. 

4 Apr 1974: The Bible House was rebuilt and reopened. It later underwent a second rebuilding in 2011. 

1978: A nation-wide Billy Graham Crusade in Singapore was held with the BSSMB’s support. 

1983: The first Joint Consultation on Chinese Scriptures was held in Singapore between church leaders from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. 

1986: With Malaysia forming their own Bible Society, the BSSMB’s name was changed to The Bible Society of Singapore and Brunei (BSSB). 

1992: The BSSB’s name was changed to and officially registered as The Bible Society of Singapore. 

2002: Project S.E.E.D was launched. Scriptures were collected from all over Singapore and redistributed to the needy in Singapore and many other countries. 

2006: Commissioned by the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS), the Society published its first annual devotional for Lent. 

2014: In a joint partnership between the Society, NCCS and TTC, the ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity was formed. Sower Institute for Biblical Discipleship was also established. 

2015: In conjunction with Singapore’s 50th Anniversary and the Jubilee Day of Prayer, the SG50 Limited Edition Jubilee Bible was published. 

2016: International Bible Experiences Pte Ltd was officially registered. 

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