A dedicated group stood at Town Hall, reading from a lectern, not stopping until their whole message was heard. By the time I arrived, they had been at it more than 58 hours, and would not stop for nearly 14 more. No, it wasn't a filibuster, but an act of religious determination.
Members of New Beginnings Community Church organized a marathon Bible reading outside Town Hall. They started with Genesis at 6 a.m. Thursday and refused to stop until reading the final word of Revelation at about 6 a.m. Sunday. Churchgoers from St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Noroton Presbyterian joined in as well. Nearly 150 readers divided the marathon into 15-minute shifts.
Once the time is up, the volunteer's passage is over--even if they're mid-verse. Its as much as you read in that 15-muinte slot, and then someone taps you on the shoulder and takes over, said Vernice Holmes, one of the shift leaders. Holmes and others took three-hour shifts to make sure everything ran smoothly.
Despite the Town Hall setting, the act was not politically motivated. "We just wanted to stand in prayer," said New Beginnings Associate Pastor Gabrielle Beam. She added that the reading was inspired by similar undertakings each year in Washington, D.C. and in a few California. "But we're pretty sure this is the first time it's been done in the Northeast, certainly in Connecticut," she said.
Readers said the response from the community was surprisingly positive. Town officials didn't hesitate to approve its being staged on Town Hall's lawn. "[They had] no problems at all," Beam said. Neighbors around Renshaw Road and Park Place were very helpful. "They've been awesome," Holmes said. "Bringing us cold drinks, letting us use the bathroom ... even at 3 in the morning."