By Rick Hiebert. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
In the run-up to the B.C. Day long weekend, a bit of obscure history related to sharing the Gospel in the province.
Back in 1971, local Christians wanted to do something unique to celebrate the 100th anniversary of B.C. becoming part of Canada. This now rare booklet was the result.
“Good News for British Columbia” is a Gospel of Mark from the Today’s English Version translation. This is confirmed by several line drawings inside by the late artist Annie Vallotton, whose artwork is intimately associated with the translation. This booklet was commissioned by the B.C. District of the Canadian Bible Society and printed by the American Bible Society in the United States. (1971, you’ll recall was the 100th anniversary of B.C. becoming part of Canada.)
I make an educated guess that the booklet was designed to appeal to tourists who came to visit during the various celebratory festivities in 1971, and then afterwards. For those not from B.C., the photo on the booklet cover is of the totem poles in Vancouver’s Stanley Park looking towards the “North Shore.”
It seems like a good idea, as perhaps tourists would see it as a neat keepsake of their visit and then read what was inside. (I wonder why other provinces, who were also celebrating centennials in surrounding years, didn’t think of the idea.)
I’ve found press evidence that B.C. churches liked the idea of the booklet.
In the June 23, 1971 edition of The (Sunshine Coast) Coast News (as it then was, which you may see here, the local paper for Gibsons reported on the booklet. Please scroll to the bottom of page 5, and the item Scriptural Project.
“As a Centennial project churches in Gibsons and Sechelt are joining in a combined effort to distribute Scriptures during the week of June 23rd to July 3>Many householders will be visited and offered one of the special Centennial copies of St. Mark’s Gospel. These copies will carry the title of ‘Good News for British Columbia’.”
Hard to imagine churches doing a mass distribution of Bible portions in this way these days.
I make another guess that the local section of the Canadian Bible Society promoted the booklet a little, as I next saw a reference to it in a 1973 newspaper.
If you scroll to page 18 of this edition of Quesnel’s “Cariboo Observer”, as it then was, you’ll see another mention of the booklet in their March 28, 1973 newspaper. In the “Our Churches” column by Shirley Demers, she notes that the “United Church of Canada (St. Andrews)” was going to be handing out the booklet as part of the “Key ’73″ evangelical push of that year.
I mentioned that the booklet is probably “rare”. Well, I’ve seen it twice, perhaps three times, in 28 years.
I used to go to a Baptist church when I first moved to Vancouver, and I recall that they had a copy or two in their literature. So, when I recently saw another copy in a small thrift store, I made sure to buy it for myself. That is the one pictured above.
Street evangelism is an often thankless task. So, if any readers recalled the booklet, I wanted to take pains to note that I do as well.