Churches across state participate in Bible Reading Marathonscomment (0)
May 8, 2014
By Neisha Fuson
The fourth annual Birmingham Bible Reading Marathon began April 27 at 6 p.m. on the front steps of Southside Baptist Church, Birmingham, and continued on through rain, wind and threat of tornadoes the next day.
“What greater comfort in a storm than the Word of God?” asked Elizabeth Rogers, public relations director for the 2014 Birmingham event.
She said as the rain began to fall everything was moved just inside the doors of the church and each reader continued to read aloud during his or her 15-minute time slot. They did have a plan and were prepared if the weather had turned severe, she said.
Stephen Manyama, pastor of Family Worship Center, Birmingham, opened the event with prayer and then began to read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Rabbi Mark A. Peilen, who previously served Temple Beth Israel, Gadsden, was the second participant to read, first reading in English and then reading the same section in Hebrew.
According to Rogers, a member of Fullness Christian Fellowship, Vestavia Hills, at least seven languages were represented at the 2014 Birmingham marathon where for 90 consecutive hours, 360 people each read a portion of Scripture, ending on the National Day of Prayer on May 1.
But the reading was not just in Birmingham.
It was Kimberly Carver’s first year to participate, and lead, the Bible Reading Marathon in Ozark.
For the past 11 years participants representing several denominations have read through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, outside Ozark’s courthouse. For the past 10 years someone accepted Christ after hearing the gospel for the first time, she said.
Every year volunteers and readers come prepared to share the gospel and are manned with tracts to hand out.
Carver, a member of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Ozark, said several people this year asked about churches they could attend and the gospel message was shared multiple times with passersby.
“We take for granted that we are people that have heard the gospel, but there are people that have never heard,” Carver said.
In Troy, Linda Adams coordinated the eighth annual Bible Reading Marathon starting with a prayer walk around city hall and the courthouse. She’s participated in several Troy Bible Reading Marathons but this too was her first time to coordinate the event.
The city provides the use of a gazebo, a sound system, chairs and a tent for the marathon, Adams said, a member of Good Hope Baptist Church, Troy.
The Troy marathon was interrupted late April 28 as severe weather made its way through town, but readers began again at 7:30 a.m. April 29.
Each marathon site had its own unique details. In Birmingham, for instance, photos were displayed from previous years and this year’s participants were allowed to find and take their photo from the display with them when they left. There also was a shirt for all the readers to sign with part of 1 Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture,” printed on the back.
Ninfa Austin, a member of Liberty Park Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills, who has coordinated every Birmingham marathon, said she has seen pastors, church staff, members and others from multiple denominations and faiths read the Bible each year.
And although each person may understand, interpret or practice his or her faith differently, Austin said everyone comes together unified at the Bible Reading Marathon.
“This is the one thing we always agree on — the Word of God is true.”