International Bible Reading Association

A movement to encourage personal Bible study. It was founded in 1882 by the National Sunday School Union under the inspiration of Charles Waters, a bank manager and a member of C.H. Spurgeon's congregation at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, who became the first secretary. It first issued a scheme of Bible readings related to the International Sunday School Lessons. In three years the membership rose to 100,000 and by 1900 reached nearly 750,000. Weekly comments were introduced in 1886, followed in 1887 by a monthly leaflet, “Hints on the Daily Readings.” A badge was adopted in 1895.

The movement spread to Australia (1882), New Zealand and Canada (1883), the USA (1885), and many other countries. The first foreign language used was French (1884), followed soon by German and Swedish (1886). Members supported a Sunday school missionary to India, Dr. J.L. Phillips (1890), thus beginning the IBRA Missionary fund. Fuller daily Bible notes began in 1909, written by Dr. Alexander Smellie for 14 years, continued by his widow editing his material after his death until 1944. Other authors have since maintained these notes, and further Bible reading aids have developed for children, young people, and more advanced students. Expansion overseas has continued, both in association with missionary societies and independently, e.g., Nigeria (1971/2).