The congregation of St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church completed a 4-day Biblethon Monday night, reading the Bible non-stop, 24 hours a day, from May 28 to June 1 (120 hours from beginning to end). The parishioners started with the book of Genesis and will finish with the book of Revelation, with the only interruptions in their reading being the times they celebrated Mass.
Father Jose Kochuparampil said they decided to do the Biblethon because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need God’s power to act powerfully on the world that the pandemic comes to an end at the earliest and individuals, families, society, our nation and the whole world may experience the power of God at work as we proclaim the living Word of God,” Kochuparampil said.
Rich McPhee, who organized the event, said the timing of the Biblethon coincided with the church opening its doors again for Mass after being closed for more than an month due to the pandemic.
“We just opened for Mass on Wednesday,” McPhee said Friday. “So what that required is we are completely following the guidance that our Diocese has given us. So far we’ve had three days of Mass, open for anyone who would like to come. With all the guidance we’ve gotten, I think it has gone pretty smoothly.
“That happened to coincide with us starting this wonderful mission of reading the Bible cover to cover here at St. Mary’s. We started reading at 1 p.m. Thursday, and we’re reading 24 hours a day, changing out people to read each hour. It’s gone pretty well.”
The Biblethon was originally scheduled to be concluded on Sunday, May 31, but McPhee said they found during the first 24 hours that it was going to take a little bit longer to read the entire Bible.
“We read about 25% of the Old Testament in a day, so it will continue now until June 1,” he said. “We were able to gauge our reading rate. Now we know for a fact that we don’t read as fast out loud as we do to ourselves, which is okay. So we made a decision of rather than trying to speed up our reading, we’re going to continue at a nice, gradual pace and get something out of it.”
The readers sat in a comfortable chair at a desk with a lamp situated to the side in the sanctuary. The Bible sat on a book holder on the desk and all the reader had to do was read and turn pages.
McPhee said the feedback they got from the volunteers who signed up to read for an hour at a time was very positive.
“It has been a great experience,” he said. “They’re by themselves and they just read and absorb and have a private time.”
Diane Snyder, who read from 2-3 p.m. Friday, agreed.
“It went quickly,” she said. “It started slow, and then all of a sudden it was 3 p.m. It went pretty quick. I’m going to do it tomorrow morning, and since they extended it, I might take another day or two.”
McPhee said they considered recording the readings, but that the parish family elected not to. But they are reading into a microphone and it is being broadcast throughout the church.
“Honestly, everybody is afraid their pronunciations are wrong and they would be embarrassed,” McPhee said. “Father Jose gave some great guidance. He said ‘It’s you and God and reading. However you pronounce the words, it’s correct.’
“It’s been wonderful. We’re not recording it, but we do love hearing it being read out loud here inside the church.”