History: the most random assignment | News | Seven days

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  • Colin Flanders © ️ Seven days
  • Green Mountain Bible Church in Island Pond

This “story” is part of a collection of articles that describes some of the obstacles that Seven days reporters were confronted while pursuing the news, events and people of Vermont in 2021.


To explain how I ended up spending part of the Easter weekend reading the Bible in the Northeast Kingdom, it helps to understand how I was feeling at the time.

It was early April, and I had spent most of the previous year working hard at home, coming out of my dark bedroom turned office just to make lunch or fill my water bottle. My neck was permanently twisted from the interviews with the phone leaning against my shoulder. I forgot to put on deodorant too often. And while the vaccine rollout offered hope, my age group wouldn’t be eligible for two weeks. I was going crazy.

Around the same time, I was racing This earth, a book by journalist Dan Barry which contains a collection of articles he wrote for the New York Times. The stories painted intimate portraits of American life. You could smell the dung from the latest auction in a century-old Minnesota stockyard and hear the ripple of the flag planted on the side of a dirt road in South Dakota – the geographic center of the nation.

I wanted to do more stories like this, go somewhere I had never been, see something new. And so, when I came across an advertisement for a 24 hour Bible reading at Island Pond, I was on board. What would make someone do this? What would they get out of it? Where the hell was Island Pond?

The Holy Sprint: Vermont Church Reads Bible In 24 Hours

Green Mountain Bible Church in Island Pond

The Holy Sprint: Vermont Church Reads Bible In 24 Hours

By Colin Flandre

Religion

I called the pastor and made my pitch. He seemed hesitant; it was the height of the mask mania, and there had been reports of churches not strictly adhering to interior mandates, leading to outbreaks of COVID-19. I assured him that I had no interest in the mask police. I just wanted to see the scene.

After a long drive that included stopping at a NEK grocery store to inquire about directions, I found the church and spent almost three hours there, reveling in the feeling of being with strangers again.

The pastor warmed to my presence as I stayed. An interview in his office revealed more about him: his past struggling with money and depression, and why he does what he does. He even sent me home with a small pocket Bible, which I awkwardly accepted, thinking the gods – journalistic or otherwise – would forgive the ethical transgression of accepting a gift from a source.

The high of the visit was quickly replaced by the fear of having to write it down. I racked my brains for some deeper meaning, for a way to convince readers, and maybe myself, that I didn’t just waste a tank of gas and a Saturday on a dud.

But then I remembered that I wasn’t the only one who had spent the past 12 months in isolation. So I wrote about what I saw: a group of people coming together to do something they enjoyed. It struck me as sufficiently newsworthy.


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