The 21st annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon kicked off Sunday evening with the reading of Genesis 1:1 and will go on for 90 continuous hours before culminating with the reading of the final chapters of Revelation on Thursday - the National Day of Prayer.
For five days, hundreds of Bible believers will gather on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol to read a portion of the Bible, to listen and to pray, continuing a tradition that started with the first marathon in 1990.
Since the first U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, the annual event has served to "honor the Bible, celebrate religious freedom and unite the diverse branches of Christianity around the Bible," organizers say.
Readers, they add, come from many backgrounds and locations all across America.
"Members of Congress and world-renowned Christian leaders and pastors stand alongside military personnel, nurses, teachers, school children, retirees, and otherwise ordinary believers to raise up the Word of God," organizers say.
The marathon, one of many being held in the world, is held primarily in conjunction to the National Day of Prayer in the United States, but has grown internationally, as a stand of solidarity for the church.
Bible reading marathons have been held in countries including Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Holland, Hungary, Mexico, Nigeria, New Zealand, Peru, Sweden, and Russia. They have also been held throughout the United States - in town squares, on county courthouse steps, and at state capitols.
This year, Bible reading marathons will be taking place in many state capitals and county seats in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer, reports the International Bible Reading Association (IBRA), which promotes the idea of public Bible readings.
Marathon organizers have also made it possible for those who wish to participate from where they are to watch the live webcast of the U. S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon through IBRA's website, www.internationalbiblereadingassociation.org.
Immediately after the marathon's closing ceremony, there will be a one-hour prayer vigil sponsored by the National Day of Prayer.
The closing ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. ET on Thursday.