The Bible Society in Turkey opened its Bible Store in Izmir (Biblical Smyrna) on 23rd February 2022 in Izmir, the day of Feast of the Patron Saint of the city, Saint Polycarp, with the blessing of the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop Msgr. Martin Kmetec, and the participation of representatives from the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey, Anglican Church and other Protestant pastors, Christian families and staff of Izmir.
According to the archives of the Bible Society in Turkey and “A HISTORY OF THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY” written by WILLIAM CANTON, the BFBS officials first came to Smyrna (Izmir) in May 1818 and founded here the first mission station in Levant – Middle East and East Mediterranean.
The British and Foreign Bible Society arriving in Izmir in 1818, had donors and subscribers here, but after the Greek independence war, we mean after 1829, these donors left the city and so the official BFBS Agency was closed down. This was the first attempt of having a BFBS Agency in Izmir. The BFBS had, however, tight contacts and printing activities here. It published in this city Modern Greek, Armenian, Turkish with Armenian script, Turkish with Greek Script (Karamanlidika), Modern Greek in Latin Script (Frangochiotika) and Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) scriptures.
Today, Izmir is the third largest city of Turkey with a population over 4,4 million. Known as Smyrna in antiquity, it is a modern city and one of the main hubs for exporting various agricultural and industrial products from its port. The Book of Revelation tells us that there was a very early Christian community in Smyrna. It is one of the seven churches of Asia, indeed it was then and remains now a large and wealthy provincial capital. At over four million souls it is the biblical city with by far the largest present-day population.
Izmir is the second city in Turkey for the Christian population, after Istanbul. The estimated number of Christians in Izmir is 6.000 – 7.000; mostly Roman Catholics (multilingual communities) and Evangelical Protestants; (in the city center: Roman Catholic Archdiocese around with 3500 people in 9 multilingual parishes, 2 sanctuaries in Ephesus and one church in Konya; Protestant Evangelicals, Anglicans and Lutherans around 1500 people in 20 Turkish speaking, 5 Farsi speaking and 3 Arabic speaking communities, a Greek Orthodox community of 500 people and many expat students and retired Western people settled in city and around. The BS Bible Store is an ecumenical initiative and is expected to serve all the believers of the city.
Photo (c) Nathalie Ritzmann