Before the steps of the nation's Capitol, hundreds of Christians will be gathered throughout this week to partake in the 20th annual U. S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon.
Starting Sunday night at 6 p.m., the Bible will be read aloud from start to finish on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington to honor the Bible, celebrate religious freedom and unite the diverse branches of Christianity around the Bible.
"This is the only time the Word of God is proclaimed in its entirety to all of Capitol Hill. It makes a huge impact," commented Rob Schenck, an adviser to the marathon's organizers and the head of Faith and Action, a primary co-sponsor of the marathon.
"People renew their faith, make first-time commitments to Christ, and foreign visitors from countries without religious freedom are strengthened and emboldened by this experience. It's a win-win-win for everyone," Schenck added.
Though the Bible Reading Marathon has been held each year since it was established in 1990 by Dr. John Hash, founder of the International Bible Reading Association, and Dr. Corinthia Boone, chairman of the National Capitol Region National Day of Prayer, Faith and Action claims that this year's event faces several impediments not faced in the past.
"For the first time US Capitol Police authorities have denied planners the use of a sound system. In addition, they are demanding all equipment, supplies, etc., are removed from the Capitol grounds at the end of each 24-hour permit period, only to be immediately replaced again so the event can resume," the organization reported last week.
"Planners say that's an unfair burden for them to bear, as the distances are great and volunteer help is scarce. The interruptions will also threaten the very tight schedule, almost assuring the reading will be incomplete by the time National Day of Prayer events must be staged on May 7," it added.
U.S. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and several members of Congress have offered to intervene on behalf of the marathon by seeking a waiver of the restrictions, but it wasn't immediately known whether the restrictions were waived before Sunday night's opening ceremony.
The 90 hours of continuous Bible reading is scheduled to conclude on May 7 – the date of this year's National Day of Prayer – with a closing ceremony at 2 p.m., followed shortly thereafter by the Capital Region National Day of Prayer Observance.
Prayer stations will be available throughout the week during the event for those wanting to stop by to pray for the nation.
The U. S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon will also be webcast across the world at www.faithandaction.org.