The American Bible Society is bringing the word of God to Philadelphia.
The almost 200-year-old non-profit announced Wednesday it’s moving its global headquarters from New York City to Old City.
The society has published and distributed bibles to American service men and women from the Civil War to the Iraq War.
CEO Roy Peterson said Philadelphia, and specifically old city, was the society’s logical new home.
“The ones who were part of the birthing of this nation had a vision for this that we call the American Bible Society today,” he said. “Our first president. … was the Philadelphia son, born here in 1740. … and one of the first president’s of Continental Congress. … Elias Boudinot.”
The society, which started in Philadelphia but was headquartered in New York since 1816, is expected to bring 200 employees to the city. It will occupy the eighth and ninth floors and close to 100,000 feet at 401 Market Street. The office space includes a Bible Discovery center on the first floor of the 11-floor building.
Affordability and livability were cited as major factors in the decision to leave New York. In a 2012 financial report, the society listed a $9 million deficit. It’s operating budget was $92 million, according to The Inquirer.
Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger said the lease is for 25 years, with a renewal option for another 25 years.
He said the society looked at a few buildings in Old City, but “Then it became a business proposition.”
“I think they would have liked to (build their own building), but it’s a bigger bar. They would have to buy land, there’s a lot of capital money that has to be raised. … it would be a more complicated endeavor for sure.”
The New York City building will be put up for sale, but some staff members will remain in the city. According to The Inquirer, the building was priced at $300 million in 2014.
The society aims to move in by this summer, but won’t completely be in operation until 2016. With Pope Francis visiting the city this fall, Peterson said the society wanted to be settled well before the planned event.
The society has offices around the world. Its goal is translate the bible into every language, and to put the bible is as many hands as possible.