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Gospel to go first posted 24 October 2002

 LONDON -first posted 24 October 2002 - 225 words

Mobile phone users will soon be able to receive excerpts from the Bible on their screens.

The service will be offered by Norwegian website Gospelsearch, which has already translated the 'Our Father' into just 160 characters - the maximum number that can be sent in a text message.

Writers Anders Torvill Bjorvand and Johannes Holmedahl plan to do the same with key passages from the New and Old Testaments to make them more accessible to younger people.

"We hope that this project will spark a new ardour and interest in reading the Bible, particularly in its more traditional version," they said.

The short-message-service or SMS is one of the most popular features offered on mobile phones, with about one billion being sent every month in the UK alone.

Like email and instant messaging, a whole new language has developed for this method of communication - designed to make the most of the limited space and aid tired fingers punching tiny keypads.

Words like chLd, l8r and :-(0) may be unintelligible to some, but to many others the terms are second nature.

But most mobile worshippers looking forward to being reminded to "LV Yr NAbR" will have to take some more traditional language lessons first, as Gospelsearch is only planning to release a Norwegian version.