Catherine, our outgoing General Secretary, shares her reflections on the last 8 years.

Bible Society NI’s staff team in 2016 – Campbell, Catherine, Julie, and Leah.

When I started as General Secretary in April 2016, I had a lot to learn!

Those first months involved learning about our team, our Board, and our work. It involved a World Assembly of United Bible Societies in Philadelphia and a lot of explaining that John Doherty had retired.

As I write I’m preparing to pass the baton on to someone new. I have accepted a job with United Bible Societies as Head of Mobilisation – a relatively new job in the Fellowship Effectiveness Department. I will be responsible for facilitating collaboration between Bible Societies in the Fellowship and picking up on the big conversations from World Assembly in October 2023.

There is Bible Society activity in almost every country in the world and they are all part of the United Bible Societies. Whilst each Bible Society is independent, we all have a common aim of reaching out with God’s Word in our own contexts. My new role will help colleagues in Bible Societies share learning and resources that could be useful in other places – just like how our resources have been used in other contexts.

Reflecting back on the last 8 years and thinking about what to share with you has generated much more content than these two pages will allow. However, I can sum up all of the fun with three headings – People, Place, and Purpose.

I have met so many wonderful people in the last 8 years – people who I now call friends, people from all over the world and from all over Northern Ireland. I have worked with wonderful colleagues here in Northern Ireland and in our sister Bible Societies around the world. I have worked with a dedicated Board of Trustees over the years here, people who volunteer their time and talents to guide and govern our work.

It has been a joy to bring connection between people with our Gathering event which started in 2019 with a visit from Simon Peter the then CEO from the Bible Society of Uganda. It has been wonderful to meet supporters and friends of the Bible Society at these events.

I have visited some extraordinary places here in Northern Ireland and around the world. Places that have welcomed me and shown such generosity in supporting the work of the Bible Society in Northern Ireland. I have no idea how many Sunday services, mid-week fellowships, or groups I have shared at or how many miles I have travelled to speak at venues across our country.

The international places I have visited have been so helpful in shaping my understanding of the global work of Bible translation, printing, distribution, and engagement. Northern Ireland plays a very important role in resourcing and encouraging Bible mission around the world – we might have a small team, but we make a big difference, and it has been a privilege to carry on the work of my predecessors in this area.

All of this has been for the purpose of reaching out with God’s Word. Over the last few years, we have increased our Bible work in Northern Ireland – we want people here to love the Bible and to appreciate the wonderful gift it is to us. I have loved working with other groups and with our own staff team to create resources for here. I’m also very proud of our Bibles for Babies project which has encouraged thousands of families to start the habit of regular Bible reading with their children.

The first 100 Bibles of our Bibles for Babies project ready for posting.

I’m really proud of the contribution our Bible Society has made to Bible mission all over the world. Since 2016 we have sent almost £4 million to support Bible projects around the world.  We have played our part in global events and conversations. We have most definitely played our part in reaching everyone with God’s Word.

So, as I move on from being General Secretary, I look forward to continuing to be an advocate for our Bible Society. I look forward to encouraging my successor as they get to grips with all that this role has for them and watching the work continue from strength to strength. I’ve been thinking about the words of Psalm 90 v 17 as I write this – ‘May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands’. I have known God’s favour in this role, I have seen and felt His guidance and support. I would value your prayers for me and for the team here as we move through these next months of transition and beyond.

Catherine with David Nesbitt from Irish Methodist World Mission Partnership at our Gathering in 2023.