Speak out

Genesis to Revelation in 90 hours

Kentucky’s Bible-reading marathon crosses finish line for the second consecutive year

By Tammy Warren

The Rev. Al Earley, pastor of LaGrange Presbyterian Church, coordinated Oldham County’s participation in the Kentucky 120 United Bible Reading Marathon, January 1–4. The scriptures were read over a public address system from the gazebo on Courthouse Square in LaGrange during the day and at churches and other entities countywide through the night. Photo by Phil Warren.


It was the voice of my friend Ed, reading Scriptures about the Bible character Job, that touched me most.

Ed is battling cancer, and yet he braved the cold wind and rain to join others from our church in participating in the Kentucky 120 United Bible Reading Marathon, sponsored by Kentucky Prayer Focus. As I listened to Ed read (and get choked up at times), I tried to imagine the agony of Job in sackcloth and ashes, scratching his itchy sores, waiting to no avail for his well-meaning friends to offer comfort and encouragement.

Now in its second year, the statewide Bible-reading marathon works with clergy and volunteers so that the entire Bible is read simultaneously, nonstop, in all 120 counties in Kentucky during the first days of the new year. The readings began at 12:01 a.m. New Year’s Day and finished around 6 p.m. on January 4.

Statewide organizers provided specific Scripture references divided among 30 three-hour segments, referred to as “watches.” Churches, youth groups and other religious entities adopted the watches. Each watch captain recruited six to 12 readers. Speaking at a normal pace, readers covered about 35 chapters in a three-hour watch.

Al Earley, pastor of LaGrange Presbyterian Church and president of the Oldham County Ministerial Association, coordinated Oldham County’s involvement in this year’s Bible-reading marathon. He arranged for daytime readings from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to be held at the gazebo on Courthouse Square in LaGrange. Other readings were held indoors at churches of various denominations countywide. For the readings from the gazebo, a makeshift tent and space heaters provided a little warmth and respite from the wind.

In addition to 10 of Oldham County’s churches adopting one or more watches, another watch was adopted by faithful inmates at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR). The inmates and KSR Chaplain David Dillard gathered in the facility’s chapel for Watch 28 of the marathon on Wednesday, January 4, 9 a.m. to noon. They began reading in Romans Chapter 1 and finished with 2 Corinthians 13.

Pastor Earley and his wife, Martha, took on on full or partial watches to fill holes in the schedule. Although time was short to organize this year, Pastor Earley has already decided to coordinate the Bible-reading marathon countywide again next year.

And whether anyone hears the words of Scripture being read in the middle of the night, or at any other time for that matter, one thing is certain: God hears.

 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
—Col. 3:17 (NRSV) 


Tammy Warren is a communications associate with the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Her work is divided between World Mission and Theology, Formation and Evangelism.