On Thursday, May 1, a local group will set out to read those 180,552 words over a 15 1/2 hour time period.
The scripture reading is being sponsored by the Massac County Ministerial Association from 5 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. at two locations — the corner of Fifth and Ferry streets in Metropolis and the Brookport Veterans statue, located in the town’s triangle.
“It’s an idea that came up during one of our monthly meetings,” said John Kiehl, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church. “It was embraced by the group and we decided to go forward with it,” which included the formation of a committee consisting of Kiehl, Jeff Bealmear, pastor of Metropolis First United Methodist Church, and Larry Call, pastor of First Christian Church in Brookport.
A number of different churches from around the county and groups within those churches will be participating in the event. Each church is responsible for hourlong blocks of reading.
“There will be a lot of different people reading,” Kiehl said, noting that at other locations committee members have been affiliated with, the reading has taken 17 hours. “We may or may not make it, but we should be close. If we should happen to get done (with the New Testament), we’ll begin reading the Psalms.”
The event will be held rain or shine. The public is invited to stop and listen. The Gideons will be at both locations with free New Testaments for people who would like to have one.
“We hope whoever makes time to do so will come and listen. It’s all about the Bible and about the Lord,” Kiehl said.
May 1 also is the National Day of Prayer.
Kiehl noted the Massac County Ministerial Association’s New Testament reading is not in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer.
“We chose the day because of its significance — one where people’s thoughts are already turned toward supporting America,” he said. “We believe, certainly, that America needs to return to the Word of God, that the country doesn’t know the Bible much any more. We thought it would be a good event.”
Research by the MIT Technology Review shows that the number of Americans with religious affiliations has changed dramatically over a 20-year period. In 1990, 8 percent of Americans had no religious affiliation. In 2010, that figure was 18 percent, or 25 million people.
“Our community needs the Word as much as anybody,” Kiehl said. “We’ve had suicides, different types of crime problems that are distressing to many people. We believe the answer is Jesus. People that would like the help of receiving the Word of God, here’s an opportunity for them. We hope they also participate in the National Day of Prayer as well.”
For more information on the New Testament reading event, contact Kiehl at 524-4243; Bealmear at 524-9325 Call at 564-2338; or your church pastor.