Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Organizers of Bible reading marathon to bring the sacred to steps of Tampa City Hall

TAMPA — Visitors to Tampa City Hall will hear something different — something hallowed — in the air next week.

Amid the typical government banter, volunteers will stand on the building's front steps and read aloud the words of Abraham and Moses, of John the Baptist and Jesus.

They will read.

And read some more.

Around the clock, for 90 hours, until every single word has been uttered from Genesis to Revelation.

At least 50 individuals and church groups have signed up to take on two-hour legs of the spiritual relay, the feat beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday and lasting till noon Thursday. Organizers hope more will join in the coming days.

It should not be mistaken for a statement on the separation of church and state, said Joy Green, chairwoman of Tampa's National Day of Prayer task force, which is behind the "Bible Read-A-Thon."

"We really don't have an argument about that," she said. "Our job as Christians is to pray for the government."

Reading the Bible, she said, is prayer in its simplest form. "When the Bible is read, you don't have to preach. You don't have to talk. You don't have to give your opinion."

The city granted Green's group a routine "advocacy" permit that would be needed to put up a menorah or hold an Easter parade in the same part of downtown, said Greg Bayor, director of parks and recreation.

The American Civil Liberties Union saw no problem with City Hall as a biblical stage.

"As long as that area is open and accessible to the public, they have every right to be there and do exactly that," said Derek Newton, communications director for ACLU of Florida.

The read-a-thon is one of several events connected with this year's National Day of Prayer, which takes place Thursday. Groups across the United States will gather to pray for the country, for families, for the downtrodden.

Locally, there will also be a daytime worship service and a finale prayer event that night at George M. Steinbrenner Field, featuring prayers by area pastors and proclamations by local dignitaries, including Mayor Bob Buckhorn and state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico. A brunch featuring Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, and sponsored by a different group has sold out, according to its website.

The marathon reading is not unique. Green, who has organized local prayer day events for 12 years, remembers having done the same thing a decade ago. She got the idea to revive it after a trip to Washington, D.C., last year where a similar event takes place. There, she said, members of Congress even took part.

The 23rd annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon is already under way. Volunteers began reading Friday from the Capitol's West Front. They'll finish Tuesday.

Tampa task force members hope the read-a-thon and other changes to this year's National Day of Prayer activities will boost participation in all denominations. Last year, several hundred attended a daytime prayer service at Lykes Gaslight Square Park.

That's much too small for an area this size, said Jennifer Mallan, a task force member and co-pastor of Christian Family Church. This year, organizers moved the event to an evening slot and the bigger Steinbrenner Field, hoping 15,000 will show up for the day's finale, she said.

An anonymous donor jump-started promotional efforts with a generous donation. The task force had 250,000 "tickets" printed to advertise the free events. Members secured space on six billboards, ads in Christian magazines and local TV and radio spots touting the prayer finale. Area pastors received promotional kits. Expenses have exceeded $30,000, Mallan said.

The National Day of Prayer is worth all the effort, she said.

"This is a pivotal year spiritually. It's an election year and you've got a lot going on in the Middle East with Israel, and people are still feeling the effects of our economy."

Sharon Tubbs can be reached at tubbs@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3394.

.FAST FACTS

National Day of Prayer events

• Bible Read-A-Thon, on the steps of Tampa City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd. 6 p.m. Sunday to noon Thursday. To sign up, send an email to pray4thenations@aol.com.

• Worship service with music from local groups. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Lykes Gaslight Square Park, 410 N Franklin St.

• Prayer service, 7 p.m., George M. Steinbrenner Field (near N Dale Mabry Highway and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard). Area pastors will say brief prayers; Christian recording artist Ricardo Sanchez will sing. Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Sen. Ronda Storms and County Commissioner Ken Hagan will attend. Free admission and parking. Call (813) 642-3488 or visit ndptam

pa.org.

Organizers of Bible reading marathon to bring the sacred to steps of Tampa City Hall 04/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 27, 2012 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sign up for our daily News at Noon email newsletter

    News

    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  2. Tampa Bay child welfare agencies get additional state funding, plan to hire more social workers

    News

    TAMPA — Buoyed by the award of an additional $3 million in state funding, Eckerd Kids plans to hire more social workers to ease the strain on Hillsborough County's overburdened child welfare system.

    The child welfare system in Hillsborough County will get an additional $3 million in funding for the upcoming fiscal  year beginning July 1, according to Eckerd Kids, the agency contracted to run the system by the state.
  3. Bill Nelson knocks Rick Scott over Senate health bill

    Blogs

    Sen. Bill Nelson attacked Gov. Rick Scott, his likely 2018 rival, over today's trip to Washington.

  4. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Hechavarria active, Robertson sent down

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 3:26: And the Rays indeed have Hechavarria at SS and Beckham at 2B. Also, with no DH Dickerson is in left.

    Rays lineup:
    Smith cf,
    Dickerson lf,
    Longoria 3b,
    Morrison 1b,
    Souza rf,
    Ramos c,
    Beckham 2b,
    Hechavarria ss,
    Cobb p

    The stellar view from the press box at PNC Park.
  5. LaVar Ball appears at WWE event, son LaMelo uses slur

    Blogs

    LOS ANGELES  -- LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring. 
    The outspoken father of NBA Draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly-minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old son LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday's "WWE …

    LaVar Ball took off his shirt during a WWE broadcast.