Residents from 26 area churches will come together on May 6 and 7 to read the Bible aloud on the courthouse lawn. The event will be in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer, which is from noon to 1 p.m. on May 6.
More than 120 people are scheduled to read over the two-day period, which totals to 21-and-a-half hours of reading. Working in 30-minute time slots, they will read from the New Testament, beginning with the book of Matthew and ending with Revelation. Each 30-minute slot will feature two to five readers.
On May 6, the readings will begin at 8:30 a.m., and stop at 11 a.m. to provide time for setup for the National Day of Prayer event. Once that event is complete, readings will begin again at 1:30 and continue until 9 p.m. On May 7, readings will take place from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. The public is invited to attend and listen.
Renee Perkins is the facilitator and organizer for the event. She first learned of this type of event while traveling with her husband to a Wycliffe Associates Missions Conference in Florida. They met a woman who told them of her work in her Texas community.
“Her work was facilitating the reading of God’s Word. The Lord seemed to say to me that this could be done in Statesboro,” she said.
Once the couple returned, Perkins met with her pastor, Dr. John Waters, who was enthusiastic about the idea and encouraged her to move forward. She also spoke with Ed Neubert, another local pastor, who coordinated the National Day of Prayer event. Neubert also encouraged her and helped her to get paperwork completed to make the event a reality. The event has been held for the past three years, with the exception of last year, when it was canceled due to COVID.
This year’s event will be extra special, Perkins said, as there will be people who will read in memory of someone who recently died.
“One group will read in memory of a precious lady, Margaret “Cricket” Amason, who died of cancer. Cricket was a core group leader for the Statesboro Community Bible Study. She also was a reader in the first public reading of God’s Word on the courthouse lawn in Statesboro in May of 2019 and died that fall. Everyone who knew Cricket loved her,” Perkins said. “The second group will read in memory of Harrison Deal, age 20, who died less than six months ago in a tragic motor vehicle accident. He was very active with the First Baptist Church student ministry and it seemed that he was involved with church and ministry all of his life. He too had a strong Christian witness as did Cricket and was loved by all who knew him.”
Perkins believes this event is important for the community because it is an event for the community.
“We are blessed in live in a country, city and county where freedom of religion and freedom to worship God is valued and allowed. In some countries this kind of event is not permitted. While we still have these freedoms, we want to exercise them to the glory of God,” she said. “We take a break on Thursday, May 6, for the National Day of Prayer, which is in the same area, but from 12-1 p.m. As prayer goes forth, so does God’s Word. They go together. That is why I wanted to have this event around the National Day of Prayer. They are separate events but complement each other.”
Perkins said that the prayer of organizers is that the reading aloud of the Bible will give “hope to the hopeless and joy for those with no joy.”
“As we read and listen to God’s Word, it too changes us as the reader. Our prayer is that others who may not normally go to church will come to the courthouse lawn and hear what God says, and they too will be touched and blessed by God’s Word. Lives are changed for good when hearing, believing and trusting in God’s Word. There is nothing more life changing than God’s Word,” she said. “So, we go forth, as a community of 130 readers and send his Word forth, for such as time as this. We have done our part and now we will let God do his. Personally, I would love to see our nation return to being one nation under God and a return to God as our Father.”
The local community is invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets and sit and listen, and to attend the National Day of Prayer event on May 6.