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Provided by Susan Turley
Young Women president Maria Lawniczak, front center, Hailyn Bryant, back left, and Kasey McCombs during the a read-a-thon by the Young Women of the Prattville Ward, Montgomery Alabama Stake.

PRATTVILLE, Ala. — The Young Women in the Prattville Ward, Montgomery Alabama Stake, participated in a 15-hour Book of Mormon read-a-thon aimed at helping them develop a personal scripture study habit.

Maria Lawniczak, the Prattville Ward Young Women president, said the event was suggested by a new move-in to the ward who had participated in a similar event in California.

“She said it was great because it helped her to focus on her reading,” Lawniczak said.

For the readathon, the girls gave up not only an entire Saturday but also all their iPods, cellphones and all other electronic gadgets, except for a CD player playing reverent music. They dressed in sweats and pajamas, arriving at 7 a.m. on Jan. 7 to get comfortable with sleeping bags, blankets and pillows in the cultural hall. Some sprawled on the floor, others snuggled up on couches moved in from the foyer.

The event — especially the “no-electronics” rule — had its skeptics in the ward.

“I thought it was going to be really lame,” said Hailyn Bryant, the 15-year-old daughter of Jeff and Suzanne Bryant.

Kasey McCombs, 14, the daughter of Daniel and Kimberly McCombs, said her first reaction was, “Are you kidding?”

Both girls, however, had entirely different viewpoints the next day, saying the read-a-thon was an experience unlike any other they’d had before.

“I felt the spirit. It was really spiritual,” said McCombs, adding that she read at least 15 chapters of her Book of Mormon. She feels like she and the other girls got more our of their reading than normal “because we were doing it because we wanted to,” not because they were expected to.

Bryant said that she had a hard time at first, “but when I started reading my scriptures, I felt good. Nobody was talking, and I liked that everyone was really serious about reading.”

When the day ended, the young women and their leaders shared their feelings about the experience.

“Whether the girls got a lot of reading done or a little, they all felt the Spirit and the importance of reading their scriptures,” Sister Lawnizcak said. “A lot of them had a specific lesson that they had learned that really seemed to stick out.”

Cameron Lawracy, the Young Women secretary, echoed that sentiment.

“I re-read something I had never understood before, and I got it this time,” she said. She added that she thought the Relief Society ought to do the same thing.

Although not all the girls were able to stay the entire day until 10 p.m., a total of about 17 young women participated throughout the day, Lawniczak said. She said she was struck by the number of new Beehives involved: “That was a long time for a 12-year-old to be reading.”

The leaders provided snacks, meals and unobtrusive supervision — but the girls needed little to no correction, she added.

“They were all very respectful of each other. . . . There were hours when they were just engrossed,” Lawniczak said. However, Lawniczak said, if she ever holds a similar event again, she will bring “less junk food.”

The read-a-thon was also special because it was one of the last times that group of young women would join as members of the Prattville Ward. Just about a week later, the Prattville Ward was divided to create the new Millbrook Ward.

Susan Turley is the media relations director on the Montgomery Alabama Stake public affairs council.