Traveling Bible concludes 20-month journey

Worldwide campaign promoted Bible-study among members

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | Arin Gencer/ANN

For 20 months, it traveled to places as far-flung as Narok, Kenya, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The large Bible specially designed to embark on a worldwide tour ended its journey during a business session Thursday night at the 59th World Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

"This Bible has journeyed the world as a symbol of the commitment that Seventh-day Adventists have to the word of God," said Mark Finley, a church vice president. "Seventh-day Adventists still stand firmly on the Bible."

Finley stood in front of representatives from every region -- some dressed in cultural garb -- who spanned the length of the stage Thursday night. The 70 or so men, women and children passed the 12-by-18-inch book down the line while a video played describing its travels.

The black leather-bound tome was part of the church's "Follow the Bible" initiative, meant to encourage Bible study among members and the community. Church leaders launched the campaign in 2008, after surveys suggested about 50 percent of members regularly study Scripture.

Church leaders have said the book has brought Adventists around the world together, encouraging them to recommit themselves to study.

"The initiative revived the interest of the people in reading the Bible," said Gilbert Wari, president of the West-Central Africa region, in the video.

More than two million Bibles were distributed in the Inter-American region during the campaign, added its president, Israel Leito, describing the missionary effort in his area.

Thursday night, church delegates approved a resolution that reaffirms "confidence in the divine revelation and inspiration of the Bible," and calls on members and "Christians everywhere to make the Bible their daily source for personal study."

"The Bible contains everything that we treasure and hold high; everything that defines us as a people, as a community of faith, rests on the Bible," General Conference President Jan Paulsen said Thursday night. "The Bible is the means by which God speaks to us."

Written in 66 languages -- including Gujarati, Lithuanian, Xhosa and Vietnamese -- the large, world-traveling Bible has been at the center of stadium events, rallies and parades in nearly 130 countries and held by governors, tribal chiefs, presidents, kings and queens. It began its tour in the Philippines and returned to the United States late last month, arriving at Washington D.C. Dulles International Airport.

Pictures from the initiative's website show the Bible being read in Iceland, displayed at a rally in Fiji and held in parades in Kenya.