Most of us have seen or heard of Book Boxes, but have you ever seen or heard of a Bible Box?
I was ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2012. Sometime around 2015, I was supplying the Monday lunch services at the cathedral. It was there, seeing so many people pass through the cathedral, that I first sensed the need for offering free Bibles. Many of us often discuss cultural biblical illiteracy, so I thought, “Why not give Bibles away on a ‘Free Bible’ table”?
This is how the vision for the Bible Box innocently began. I set up tables with free Bibles at both Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and at a city neighborhood church where I was serving on Sundays. I still didn’t know where I’d get the Bibles from, but God provided those as well! I noticed in a couple of the churches that I served, that there were always closets or old rooms with piles of unused Bibles sitting around gathering dust. In addition, as churches closed around the diocese, I asked diocesan staff for permission to take any lightly used Bibles out of the churches before they sold the property. Thus, with these various Bible resources at hand, over a few years I ended up giving away several hundred Bibles on the “Free Bible” tables. It was a quiet success! But I kept thinking: “Shouldn’t the Church be giving God’s Word away for free anyway?”
Upon moving from Pittsburgh to a call in the Diocese of Connecticut, I began again to offer Bibles on a free Bible table in my new church. But one day God called me to a new vision for giving away His Word: a Bible Box!
It is one thing to give away Bibles inside the church, but my new church was on Main Street. I thought, why not put the Bibles outside to give them away to the wider community?
And so, using classic neighborhood book boxes as a template, I worked with a parishioner to create our first Bible Box with free Bibles. It was his idea to make it look like our church, and what a wonderful job he did! It has from time to time also acted like other book boxes, with people dropping off old Bibles and other religious books. But primarily we offer brand new or lightly used Bibles (in English and Spanish) taken either from our church stock, bought new from church funds, or donated through the Connecticut Bible Society.
Like the tables in Pittsburgh, the free Bible table at Grace and the Bible Box on Main Street have been a grand success. I estimate that in over four years we have given away somewhere between 300 to 400 Bibles!
Now it is your turn. Why can’t your church have a box (or table) to give away free Bibles? As God has so freely and gracefully given us His Son Jesus, perhaps we can at least freely offer the world God’s Word.
The Rev. Charlie Hamill is the rector of Grace Church, Old Saybrook, Conn.