The Bible in America

History From its founding in 1816, the American Bible Society has grappled with the task of making the Word of God available to Christians and churches in America. From its earliest days, it has worked to provide scriptures to the men, and later women of the military, to local and international bible societies, and to translate the Holy Bible to other languages used by peoples in the United States so that they could not only possess scripture, but could understand its importance in their own lives.

Leaders Starting with a leader of the American Revolution, Elias Boudinot, John Jay, first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and going right down to the most recent president Lamar Vest, The American Bible Society has always been led by “true believers” in the Bible cause.


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Everett Smith

President of the American Bible Society, 1962-1967

Church Affiliation: Presbyterian

Black and White Print of Everett Smith from a color portrait by Frank Bensing

Everett Smith was born on September 11, 1892 in Seattle, the son of Everrett and Mary (Dibble) Smith. He obtained his BS from Yale in 1915. In 1921 he began employment with the Disciunt Corporation of New York, leaving in 1937 to become the Fiscal Agent for the 12 districts of the Federal Home Loan Banks.

In 1943, at the inception of the Federal Home Loan Bank System Retirement Fund, Everett Smith was appointed its treasurer, retiring in 1961 as its president. He was admitted to the New York Stock Exchange firm, Charles Quincey Co.

He was elected to the American Bible Society Board of Managers in 1942, and in 1955 was selected Chairman of the Finance Committee. He visited a number of ABS agencies in the Far East.

At the time of his election as the President of the American Bible Society on June 7, 1962 he stated, “Never has the need for Scriptures throughout the world been more urgent than at present. With the continued interest and help of friends, the Society can bring the Bible into the lives of many millions more. I shall devote my energy to continuing the outstanding administration of Dr. Daniel Burke, under whose guidance the influence of the Soceity has expended so greatly both at home and overseas.”

The May 17, 1963 edition of the Journal American (New York) carried an item on Everett Smith's retirement from commercial life to the ABS presidency.

It would be great if every successful businessman lent his executive skills to worth-while causes in retirement. But the current practice seems to decree that men retire to the palmy pursuits of aimless leisure - permitting rich, accumulated experience to wither into oblivion

An exception is Everett Smith, who at 70 accepted the presidency of the American Bible Society. “I favor the idea of retiring TO - not from,“ said this man whose new position pays no salary. He's an erect, alert-eyed grandfather who waistline is slimmer than his son's thanks to setting-up exercises and lots of walking. Retired after a quarter century as fiscal agent of Federal Home Loan Banks, he is still a partner in an investment firm.

“When first asked to accept the position, I demurred. But then, recalling my more than 20 years of service with the Society's finance committee and lesser time with other committees, it seemed this experience should be put to use. With an annual budget of almost $6 million, great care must be taken to get the most out of every dollar. I finally decided it would be a privilege to accept.”

What does the Society do? “It translates, publishes and distributes the Bible without note or comment on five continents,” he explained. “It's supported by 55 Protestant denominations. Last year we distributed some 28 million bibles, New Testaments and portions of the Bible.”

“Then there is general supervision of our 350 full-time personel, and thousands of ministers, religious workers, and others engaged in distribution of our publications to over 100 countries-currently in more than 300 languages. Kntty problems are always arising on foreign exchange, new translations, interpretations and negotiations.”

“There's no copyright on the Bible itself, and anyone can print it. We don't compete with commercial publishers, since our bibles are not sold through book stores.”

“Instead, we sell them below cost at home and abroad to assist churches in their missionary and evangelistic programs-with the deficit made up from gifts and contributions to the Society.”

Mr. Smith, who is himself a Presbyterian, says his interest in the Bible stems from his upbringing in a strictly religious family. “In a world of change,” he says, “it's good to know the bible is with us for its unchanging message of God's love for man. It is, of course, the greatest document in the world and I feel very himble to be so closely associated with its distribution.”

As we grow older and wiser we shoud become increasingly aware of the great needs in this world - particularly needs for raising human spiritural sights and standards of living. Great things could be accomplished in this direction if we could somehow change our entire conecpt of retirement and awaken elders everywhere to the values of devoting a porion of their leisure to meaningful service.