35th annual Capitol Bible Reading Marathon kicks off this weekend: 'A lifetime experience'

Thelma Dephas of Shiloh Baptist Church in Landover, Maryland, seen taking part in the 20th annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, a 90-hour front-to-back oral reading of the Bible on May 6, 2009, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Thelma Dephas of Shiloh Baptist Church in Landover, Maryland, seen taking part in the 20th annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, a 90-hour front-to-back oral reading of the Bible on May 6, 2009, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. | TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images

The 35th Annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, in which volunteers read every word of the Bible from cover to cover, kicks off Saturday afternoon and runs through Wednesday morning. 

A project of the Indiana-based ministry Seedline International, the reading marathon features volunteers taking turns in 15-minute speaking slots reading the Bible from cover to cover.

Those hoping to read excerpts of the Bible in one of the speaking slots can sign up in advance. Slots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

The event starts at 2 p.m. Saturday and is expected to last until 10 a.m. Wednesday. 

While Seedline International anticipates that 98% of the speaking slots will be filled before the event begins, "volunteers walking by that want to read" will also have the option to participate.

In addition to being "a born-again Christian," volunteer readers are expected to "provide their own transportation" and "arrive 5 minutes before [their] scheduled reading time." Those wishing to watch the event but cannot attend in person can view it on Seedline International's YouTube channel. 

"It's a lifetime experience reading the Bible in our nation's Capitol," Seedline International Founder and Director Keith Davidson said in an interview with The Christian Post. "We usually face westward, which is actually reading across the country. And we just think it's important for America to be pulled back to our founding fathers' desires and some of the things that helped put our nation together, which is principles from the word of God."

Davidson said the event aims to "bring back [America's] attention to the Bible" and "how important it is for the foundation of our country" and "for the family unit." He hopes the Bible Reading Marathon helps "return us back to reading one of the most important books to have ever been written." 

Davidson told CP that he hadn't yet received word about what members of the U.S. Congress, if any, would participate in the event as they have in the past. He said notable faith leaders will participate. Those include Michael Hall of the People's Church in Washington, D.C., George Roller of the ministry Hope to the Hill, Carl Herbster of the ministry Advance USA and Peggy Nienaber of the nonprofit organization Faith & Liberty.

Davidson anticipated that 30 to 50 people, including some churches, would gather at a time to listen to the marathon.

While "a lot of people stop by, listen, [and] move on," he stated that "we've never had a huge crowd just gather" because "it's mostly just people who drift by and spend a few minutes and then move on."

While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the reading marathon from taking place on U.S. Capitol grounds for a few years, 2024 marks the second consecutive year since the pandemic that Seedline International has been able to hold its annual event there.

Davidson said it was "pretty difficult" to get a permit to hold the event this year.

"It just seemed like the wheels of government approval [were] turning awfully slow because we made the application last year actually in May. So I'm not sure what the delay is," he said. 

"I know they like to wait until after the first of the year and that Congressman [Robert] Aderholt's office usually sponsors that. But they sent it to the Sargeant of Arms this year, and they went to the Speaker's Office for some reason. Just delay after delay."

Davidson said he received the permit on Tuesday, four days before the event is slated to kick off.

While he had a "plan B" in mind that would have involved holding the reading marathon at the nearby Faith & Liberty headquarters where it had taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was ultimately not necessary to resort to that. A "plan B" in the case of severe weather would require the event to "move inside somewhere" at the U.S. Capitol.

Seedline International is already preparing for the possibility of inclement weather by preparing a laminated Bible to read from if it rains.

Noting that speakers will move to a "recess" near the west side of the Capitol if it rains, Davidson promised that "the Bible reading must go on" regardless of the weather.

Bible reading marathons have taken place or will take place at state capitol buildings in Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia in 2024. Tennessee is scheduled to have a Bible reading marathon at its state capitol in 2025. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles