TIFTON — For 72 hours straight, members of St. Anne's Episcopal Church are participating in a special project — reading the entire Bible aloud. They began at 9 a.m. Thursday and will go non-stop until worship at 10 a.m. today.
"The Bible is important to us and central to who we are," said the Rev. Lonnie Lacy, pastor of St. Anne's. "We see this as worth our time — a special, holy project that connects us and the scripture."
He told The Tifton Gazette Thursday that when they reach the final chapter, Revelation 22, they will pause worship and everyone will read the final chapter together. They are live-streaming the reading online at www.ustream.tv/channel/st-anne-s-mass.
While scripture was being read in the sanctuary, Lacy said other Bible-focussed events took place on the campus over the weekend. He said a youth lock-in on Friday and a special family program on Saturday both included programs and teachings on the role of the Bible in people's lives today.
Although Lacy has read and studied the Bible, he says hearing other people read from it made him realize that he's never heard it in that way.
He said the event is called Miqra, which is Hebrew for "a public reading" or "a telling forth."
"The idea for Miqra originated years ago with a group of Episcopal teenagers in Kansas. Now, Miqras are hosted by Episcopal churches all across the country," explained Lacy.
He said the reason they're doing the reading is because statistics show that the average American family owns nine Bibles, yet Biblical literacy is at an all-time low.
"We believe every Christian, whether liberal or conservative, free-thinking or fundamentalist, should know the Biblical story," he said. "Doing a Miqra causes us to pause our lives, to put special priority on scripture and to encounter God's word in a unique way."
Another reason they're doing the reading is to kick off a special year-long, church-wide focus on the Bible at St. Anne's. Starting in September, they are challenging every member of St. Anne's to join one another in studying the Bible from cover to cover over the course of the year. They will be supporting one another through Sunday schools and special events all year long.
According to Deacon Leeann Culbreath, "We're not trying to raise money or prove anything, except that God's great love story is still a living and powerful word, made more so when proclaimed and heard in the oral tradition — the parts we like, the parts we don't like, and yes, every last begat."
As Lacy puts it, "780,660 words. 1,189 chapters. 72 hours. 66 books. 55 volunteers. One story of God's love."
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.