The American Bible Society (ABS) announced today it plans to sell its 12-story New York City headquarters. The sale of the prime real estate on Broadway in Manhattan comes as ABS tries to reinvent itself after a decade of turmoil.
ABS, founded in 1816, helps distribute Bibles in multiple languages around the world. But it has struggled in recent years with finances, leadership, and the high cost of maintaining its historic headquarters, which needs $20 million in renovations by 2016 to meet city code.
The organization moved into its building, known locally as the Bible House, in 1966 following a ribbon-cutting by Billy Graham. The property’s sale could mean the end of a Christian landmark in one of the world’s most secular cities.
“We thank God for the work of the American Bible Society,” Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College in New York, told WORLD. “Their location on Columbus Circle is a strategic one in New York City, and I hope they will be able to sell the building to another Christian organization or institution.”
ABS spokesman Geof Morin told WORLD that the organization plans to maintain a “strategic” presence in the city, but did not specify whether that presence would be physical. Only about 80 of the organization’s 220 employees work from New York. About 75 work from a facility in Valley Forge, Pa., and the rest work remotely from locations across the country.
“It will be a different presence in New York City,” Morin said. “More focused on relationships. The building bears incredible value for the kingdom. We want to reinvest that value in kingdom work while maintaining a presence in New York City.”
ABS hired Roy Peterson as president earlier this year. Peterson followed Doug Birdsall, whom ABS fired in October after just months on the job. One of Birdsall’s ideas for reviving the ministry was to build a $300 million ministry center at the Broadway property.