washington people’s church
Faith and Action president and lead missionary Rev. Rob Schenck launched the 20th annual US Capitol Bible Reading Marathon Sunday night, May 3, from the famed West Steps of the US Capitol, only a few yards from where the president swears the oath of office on Inauguration Day.
As part of opening ceremonies, he read Genesis Chapters one and two, including the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, in its original Hebrew. Over three and half days, scores of readers will stand at a podium shaped like an open Bible and proclaim God’s Word aloud, verbatim and without interruption or commentary. The reading will last a total of 90 hours. It will conclude on Thursday afternoon, May 7, the National Day of Prayer.
A steady rain and cold temperatures on Sunday tested the commitment of organizers and volunteers.
“You can get anything in Washington at this time of the year,” said Pastor Michael Hall of Washington’s People’s Church, who together with his wife, Terri, have coordinated the event for each of its 20 years. “A few years we had sun and warm temperatures. It really spoiled us.”
Most of the other years, though, have been like this one, cold, rainy and blustery. Still, volunteers come and so do the tourists. Bus loads of sightseers disgorged from buses into the late evening hours on Sunday, pausing to listen as chapters in Genesis and Exodus echoed off the stone walls of the imposing Capitol.
During the preliminary prayer and dedication ceremony, singer Linda Keller of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, performed her original song, “One Nation Under God.” She was helped by a back-up vocal ensemble of young teens called, “Kids’ Connection.”
“One of the really wonderful aspects of this event is the diversity of participants,” said Rob Schenck. “The kids’ ensemble was mainly African-American, readers will be from every ethnic group imaginable, plus we’ll hear the Bible in numerous languages and dialects. Members of Congress come to read and they will be from both parties. It speaks to the universality of the Bible’s message and appeal.”
The entire Marathon can be viewed live over the Internet at www.faithandaction.org/web.
Rev. Schenck will preside at the official closing of the Marathon on Thursday. Following the ceremony he will go the US Supreme Court to conduct the only National Day of Prayer observance held each year at the High Court.