It was sunny and closing in on 80 degrees in downtown Seymour as volunteer Joni Zabel stood at a podium and read Bible passages aloud earlier this month at One Chamber Square in downtown Seymour.
Zabel was one of more than 160 readers who participated in the Bible reading event. The activities began at 8 a.m. May 2, went all through the night and finished at 6 p.m. May 3 on National Day of Prayer.
“We’re all the body of Christ, coming together,” said Zabel with Genesis Church of Seymour.
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There were 11 captains for the event, each one responsible for a three-hour block of time, consisting of 15 volunteers to read for each three-hour slot. The readings continued rain or shine.
Pastor Geraldine Dillard with God’s Glorious Wells Ministries International of Austin, participated as a reader and also served as a team captain in the event.
“The volunteers are reading Bible verses in 12-minute increments,” Dillard said. “After that, the reader steps aside and prays for 12 minutes while the next person is reading.”
Dillard said the reading selections this year were from the books of Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah and all of the New Testament. The hope for the near future is to have enough time and resources to read the Bible aloud from cover to cover.
The reading paused at noon May 3 during the National Hour of Prayer, as community leaders stopped for an hour to lead specific prayers for local, state and national government, the judicial system, schools, the homeless, families, those suffering from addictions, churches and other areas.
This was the first year for Kyle Kaminski to participate in the Bible readings. He serves as a youth pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Seymour.
“I think it’s important to recognize that God’s word is true,” Kaminski said. “It’s also important to be in unity with other believers in prayer.”
Kaminski said he thought he might participate in the Bible reading event in the future and said it’s good for the community to come together this way.
The event was coordinated this year by Pastor Gary Dyer and Pastor Hywel Thomas of Seymour Harvest Church.
“Every community can choose or not choose to participate in the National Day of Prayer and we are reading about half of the Bible,” Thomas said. “It’s difficult to get people involved, especially for the nighttime hours.”
Thomas said it takes about 72 hours to read the whole Bible aloud, so this year, the participants were scheduled to read a total of 33 hours.
“Almost all the volunteers were from churches except for Immanuel Lutheran School,” Thomas said. “Those were students from the school and scheduled to read on the second day of the event.”
An addition to the National Day of Prayer Bible reading event this year was March for Jesus, which has been revived after being dormant for several years here, Thomas said.
Church and community members gathered at Shields Park in Seymour for fellowship, praise and special music. The march lasted for one hour through downtown Seymour and is typically conducted the Saturday after the National Day of Prayer in all time zones.
“We had a great turnout for the march, and the procession was about three or four blocks long, so the fire is being reignited,” Dyer said. “We had a police escort through town and carried the banner from the original march here and are excited about having it again next year.”
As for the Bible readings, those began in Seymour around 1997, and Jackson County residents had to go to Columbus to participate in the event, Dyer said.
“Officer Tim Toborg is a friend of mine and suggested we have the Bible readings here, too, so that began to take place in Seymour,” Dyer said. “Tim was a great help in getting this started here, and now, there are about nine churches in our unity fellowship, and we’ve combined together to do this.”
Across the podium was a sign that read “Isaiah 55:11,” which explains how the Word goes out and does not return void.
“So a believer speaking the Word has to do something,” Dyer said. “From my past experience, people will hear the Word, and it’ll either excite them or ignite them.”
Dyer said one year while the volunteers were reading, a lady came out of a store and was angry when she heard the Bible passages being read aloud.
“She called the police because she said we were disturbing the peace,” Dyer said. “The police got there and knew me, and I told them we weren’t disturbing the peace, we were bringing the peace.”
For information about the National Day of Prayer Bible readings or the March for Jesus, call Dyer at 812-216-0214.