Throughout Georgia’s 159 counties this Sunday, all 66 books of Scripture will be read aloud on courthouse steps in just 45 minutes. Organizer Jerri Tuck chose the date—July 14, or 7/14—as a nod to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Readings from Genesis through Revelation will begin across the state at 7:14 on Sunday morning.
Tuck, who has coordinated the annual Bible Reading Marathon in Cochran, Georgia, for 15 years, got the idea from a similar event held throughout Iowa’s 99 counties. “As a passionate supporter of the public reading of God’s Word,” she says, “I was intrigued.” So she connected with Iowa’s chairperson to learn about the logistics.
July 14 Project Gets a Thumbs-Up From Pastors
Tuck used a Facebook page to organize the Georgia event and to recruit participants. As news of the idea spread, church leaders across the state quickly jumped on board. “We were excited to hear about it,” says Jeff Dykes, a pastor in Cochran. “We want to point people to the glory of God, exalting him and his Word. It’s a big undertaking. Jerri’s been working hard to put it together.”
About the event, Tuck says, “Participants get to be a part of the statewide reading of the Word of God, declaring Jesus is Lord. We’re imploring God to heal our land.”
Before becoming a Christian, Tuck was a member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. Now she’s involved with several efforts to teach and preach Scripture throughout Georgia, including after-school classes in public schools.
Nathan Chaplin, an Iowa pastor who has participated in a Bible Reading Marathon, says, “There’s only so much I can cover in 30 minutes on Sunday. You really need to be reading [God’s Word] to yourself.”
The History of Bible Reading Marathons
Bible Reading Marathons began in 1990 through the efforts of John Hash and his Bible Pathway ministry. Since then, annual Scripture-reading events have occurred on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to coincide with the National Day of Prayer each May. Volunteers can be found reading God’s Word cover to cover for 90 consecutive hours.
Some churches conduct a similar marathon at the end of December and the beginning of January to kick off the new year. An instructional kit for conducting a Bible Reading Marathon is available at the Bible Pathway website.
In 2013, Bonnie and Jesse Roediger founded Bible Reading Ministry International (BRMI) “to encourage believers to hold Bible Reading Marathons in their area on an annual basis.” Through its ministry partners, BRMI holds marathons across the globe, including three each year in Nepal. The goal of public Scripture reading, says Bonnie Roediger, is to “bring unity to the body of Christ.”
Atheist groups have tried unsuccessfully to put an end to Bible Reading Marathons. In 2016, a group in Texas asked Georgia officials to block an upcoming event. After a Georgia resident contacted the American Center for Law & Justice, that organization reminded the parties that the First Amendment guarantees free speech of religious views in a public setting. The marathon proceeded without incident.