Type to search

Culture Featured Ministry News

American Bible Society to Shut Down Faith and Liberty Discovery Center

ABS spent nearly $100 million on initiative over past decade

Avatar photo

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Over the past decade, the American Bible Society spent nearly $100 million to build and operate a state-of-the-art interactive museum in Philadelphia that explains the role of the Bible and a Christian worldview in the nation’s founding, as well as in the ongoing history of the nation.

At the end of this month, the museum will permanently close. The ABS will lay off the entire staff of the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center (FLDC). The FLDC is a separate LLC, wholly owned by the American Bible Society. MinistryWatch was not able to confirm the number of employees impacted.

The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center opened in May of 2021. The 40,000 square-foot museum uses immersive, interactive displays to teach visitors the impact of the Bible on the men and women who built America, from the founding era until today. Construction costs were about $60 million. Total project costs over the past decade approached $100 million.

In 2021 the FLDC was awarded the Exhibition Design of the Year by Dezeen, an online magazine that annually recognizes the year’s best design and architectural projects.

Jennifer Holloran, the recently named president of the American Bible Society, sent an email to the ABS staff Wednesday that said, in part:

“This morning, I met with our faithful FLDC staff to tell them that the FLDC, in its current configuration, will close on April 1, 2024. The last public opportunity to visit the experience will be March 28. I know that our Board has wrestled with this possibility for quite some time, and the Board of Directors and I agreed at the February Board meeting that now is the time to proceed with this difficult but necessary action.

“The FLDC as conceived was a wonderfully innovative idea. That idea came with big possibilities and requirements to allow it to be functional in the long run. Unfortunately, despite the valiant efforts of our FLDC leadership and team, we have not been able to achieve the long-term sustainability that an experience like that needs to be successful.”

Alan Crippen was the Executive Director of the Faith and Liberty Initiative and the founding Director of Exhibits, Programs, and Public Engagement from 2016 to 2021. He served as a volunteer “scholar advisor” for a year before that. He said, “The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center was a bold project that intended to realign American Bible Society with its two centuries old organizing purpose — to make the Bible available to Americans. Ours was a creative and innovative effort to engage the hearts and minds of a post-Christian and post-literate generation with a compelling story of America.”

He continued: “We wanted to demonstrate the Bible’s central and influential role as the principle text of American freedom. What better place to do so than right across the street from Independence Hall the the Liberty Bell. The closure of the Center destroys an institution that is much needed today to offer hope and an historical moral compass by speaking sanely and reasonably into the cacophony of vitriol that so characterizes public life today. It was a ‘back to the Bible’ effort in which I still believe. I deeply lament the Bible Society’s decision. It seems ill-advised, premature, and a forfeiture of strategic opportunity to lead in a renewal of Bible engagement and literacy in America.”

The American Bible Society, founded more than 200 years ago, is one of the country’s oldest Christian ministries. In the MinistryWatch database, American Bible Society earns a one-star financial efficiency rating, its lowest rating, primarily because its net assets exceed $600 million. Revenue in 2022 was about $112 million.

For more MinistryWatch coverage of The American Bible Society, click here.

Access to MinistryWatch content is free.  However, we hope you will support our work with your prayers and financial gifts.  To make a donation, click here.

Avatar photo
Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.