Monday, November 13, 2006

Yucaipa History: Bible Reading Record

In 1925, the members of the First Methodist church in Yucaipa made the news by reading the entire Bible aloud in one continuous sitting. In reporting on the church's plan to attempt the feat, the newspapers expressed puzzlement as to the purpose of the stunt :
In fact, the congregation is to assist at the strange ceremony by relieving the minister of the reading from time to time. Just what is to be accomplished aside from a record is not clear. Rev. E. D. Raley of this church at Yucaipa says the continuous reading of the Bible aloud has never been accomplished in a church pulpit. Doubtless they never even though of doing it back in the days when long church services nearly all day Sunday were the rule or they certainly would have adopted this plan to stretch out the service. Score one for this generation.
In June 1926, they repeated the feat, and set a new time record for Bible reading.
Bible Read in Record Time
YUCAIPA, Calif, June 21 -- (AP)-- Cutting four minutes from the record of a year ago, the people of Yucaipa valley last night completed the feat of reading the Bible aloud at a continuous service under way at the First Methodist church since midnight Thursday. The total time consumed was 69 hours and 16 minutes.
Approximately 300 persons took part in the reading which never halted except for a prayer and a song at the completion of the Old Testament. The reading is an annual custom to encourage interest in the Bible.
I'm not sure if the First Methodist in the article is the same as the United Methodist Church of Yucaipa which was founded in 1913.

Today there is an annual Bible reading marathon on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. However, they take a leisurely 90 hours - not even close to the Yucaipa record.

If you have a newspaper subscription at, you can read the original articles in the May 25, 1925 Oakland Tribune and Monday, June 21, 1926 Iowa City Press Citizen.

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