Even the best of causes can create differences - sometimes even feuds - among adherents.

And so it has been with the Bible and the century-old effort to translate the scriptures into every conceivable tongue and dialect and make the Bible available to everyone.The result, often, is a duplication of efforts, wasted resources and unproductive competition.

But in early October, in the first-ever such meeting, a group of 12 Bible agencies, including the United Bible Societies, met together to see if they could put some of their differences behind them.

Participants agreed to test the rhetoric of cooperation with a concrete effort at collaboration, agreeing to jointly develop pilot projects to reach non-literate people in Ethiopia and the Philippines.

The United Bible Society estimates there are hundreds of millions of people speaking more than 3,000 languages and dialects who don't have access to the Bible in their mother tongues. The 12 agencies at the meeting in England committed themselves to "work together in seeking ways of ensuring the best possible stewardship of the God-given resources entrusted to each organization."