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British Columbia Churches Host Public Scripture Readings During Lent

Duncan (British Columbia) Christian Reformed Church joined other churches in the Cowichan Valley during Lent to read Scripture aloud.

Churches opened their sanctuaries to host the public readings over a ten-day stretch in the two weeks leading up to Easter. Volunteers committed to reading Scripture aloud in time slots from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Duncan CRC member Eileen Faber reads her passage in Dutch, her first language.

Photo by Ellen Vanderwerf

Duncan CRC hosted the final reading at a Palm Sunday evening prayer service as an entry into Holy Week.

It was part of a Lenten initiative sponsored by the Canadian Bible League called Proclamation. The first Proclamation was held in 1995 in the province of Quebec. Since then individual churches, ministerials, and denominations have joined the Lenten initiative.

In Duncan, 11 churches and three groups, including Duncan Christian School, participated. The readings were accompanied by prayer for the blessing of God’s Word on the hearts of those who attended as well as the whole Cowichan Valley.

The concept of reading aloud has its roots in the book of Nehemiah, which records that Ezra the priest read the law aloud to the whole assembly. In Duncan, volunteers read the entire Bible, taking a total of 145 hours.

Time slots varied from 10 minutes to a full hour, depending on the reader’s comfort level. Fifteen different English translations were used. Readers were encouraged to read in the language of their birth; Dutch French, Japanese, German, Polish, Portuguese, and Swedish were represented.

Ellen Vanderwerf served as the “captain” for Duncan CRC. “We had never heard of this before,” she said. Vanderwerf organized her church’s volunteers and supported them at the readings.

Vanderwerf appreciated the unity of spirit that formed as volunteers across ages and denominations gathered in each other’s churches. But it was the reading of Scripture itself during Lent that most impacted Vanderwerf.

“There was a quiet holiness to just to sitting and listening to the Word spoken by a variety of voices. There was also a lot of joy and enthusiasm. We will absolutely participate again.”

About the Author

Jenny deGroot is a teacher/librarian in Langley, British Columbia.

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