Reto Mayer, President of the Swiss Bible Society (SB), resigned on 21 May, on the occasion of the SB General Assembly in Schaffhausen/Switzerland. Martin Vogler, SB Vice President, and Eva Thomi, SB Managing Director, thanked Mayer for his many years of commitment. Reto Mayer, Adventist pastor and financial expert, works in the European church administration of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Inter-European Division EUD) in Bern/Switzerland. Mayer was elected to the Board of the Swiss Bible Society in 2003 and as President in 2013. Regula Tanner, SB Vice-President, takes over the presidency ad interim for one year.
In 2003, the Swiss Bible Society sent a newsletter to all member institutions asking if anyone would like to join the board of the Swiss Bible Society. This letter also reached the Swiss Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which has been a member of the Swiss Bible Society since 1994. Reto Mayer, Adventist pastor and financial expert, who works in the European Church Administration of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Inter-European Division EUD) in Bern/Switzerland, submitted his curriculum vitae and was elected to the Board of the Swiss Bible Society in 2003.
"After 16 years on the board, I wanted to resign," Mayer told Adventist Press Service APD Switzerland.
Good ecumenical cooperation - "The Adventist and the Reformed"
The Board of the Swiss Bible Society consists mainly of members of the Reformed Church and of one member of the Christian Catholic Church. As a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he was the only representative of a Free Church on the board of the Swiss Bible Society. In his election as president, the representatives of two large Reformed cantonal churches wanted to clarify questions, Mayer said. His answers had obviously dispelled the concerns.
"The Adventist and the Reformed, that was a successful version of cooperation in our case," said Eva Thomi, managing director, at the farewell and thanked Mayer for his many years of dedicated work.
"I met new acquaintances and friends on the board from 'another world', which enriched me a lot. This collaboration with Christians from other churches to spread the Bible has strengthened my personal identity as a Seventh-day Adventist," Mayer said in a summary. "We treated each other respectfully," Mayer said, "and I am very pleased that my presence on the board and as president has given people a different understanding of Adventists.
Cooperation with national Bible Societies and the United Bible Societies
As president, he had chaired the board meetings and the general meetings and had been in contact with the managing director. He had promoted the goals of the Bible Society to make the Bible or parts of the Bible accessible to people in the "language of their heart". The Swiss Bible Society had therefore also supported the Bible distribution projects of the United Bible Societies (UBS). Due to the three main languages in Switzerland, the SB manager had sought cooperation with the Bible Societies in Germany, Austria, France and Italy, Mayer said.
Review and outlook
In the years that he could oversee, sales of Bibles in Switzerland had fallen sharply, Mayer said. This had to do with the increase in social media and the changed reading behaviour. Nevertheless, the managing director was not only interested in marketing the product "Bible", but also in making the Bible known as the "Word of God", which made him very happy. The negative figures had occupied the board of directors a lot. However, the measures taken had only partially had the desired effect.
The Swiss Bible Society is facing challenges because donors are getting older and older and it is difficult to find new donors, Mayer said. The new donation tool now also makes it possible to donate online. But it was also a matter of making the Bible suitable as a book for the new media and accessible to people, and above all that the Bible would continue to be understood and read as God's Word to people.