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Spellbinding memorization of Scripture provides Revelation

About half of the church's red-cushioned pews were left unfilled, but it didn't seem to bother Thomas Meyer.

He never stammered. He never took a drink of water. And he never slipped up.

Pretty good, considering he was reciting the Book of Revelation from memory -- a one-hour task.

Meyer, who travels the country narrating whole books of the New and Old Testaments from memory, performed Sunday evening in First Baptist Church of Hamburg. Earlier in the day, he recited the Book of James at the church's Sunday school session and the first 11 chapters of Genesis during the 11 a.m. worship service.

Visiting Western New York for the first time, Meyer has recited Scripture from memory in more than 500 churches across the nation. He has been to 27 states in the last 11 months, traveling in an RV with his wife, Sarah.

Sunday marked the couple's one-year anniversary. Meyer said he and his wife will go to Niagara Falls today to celebrate, before traveling to Medina later in the day and departing for Chicago, where's he's set to perform Wednesday.

After about 10 minutes of prayers and songs, the tall, lanky Meyer took his spot in front of those gathered and began to recite Revelation, the 22-chapter concluding book of the New Testament that features characters such as a dragon with seven heads and trumpet-playing angels. Meyer, who calls his performances "oral proclamations," left many in the audience thinking that they had seen a theatrical play and forgetting that the man in front of them was reciting an hour's worth of words by heart.

Meyer, with a booming voice, used his hands expressively and moved constantly. He didn't speed through the words, often changing his tone to match the words of Revelation. The heads of many never turned away from Meyer, with the most movement in the audience coming from parents who had to walk their children out of the church only to return a few minutes later. Many of the men in attendance had their arms around their wives.

Kassandre Stumpf, who followed along in the Bible, said Meyer was perfect on every word.

"That's unbelievable. It's crazy. I have a tough time memorizing one verse," said the 21-year-old, who has been attending the church her entire life.

Next to her was her grandmother, Clara Stumpf, who has been associated with the church for about 40 years. She said Meyer's performance was dramatic and "said with the memory of Shakespeare."

Kevin Leary, pastor of the church, said that those in attendance Sunday morning and night were encouraged by Meyer's powerful performances, perhaps no one more than his daughter, Hannah.

Hannah Leary, 15, learned to recite the Book of Ruth from memory in a month last year through oral repetition. Hannah said Meyer's performance was articulate and told like a story, something she sometimes struggles with. "It blew me away," she said. "It inspired me to do more."

Meyer, who has memorized 12 of the Bible's 66 books, said memorization of Scripture isn't something many people practice anymore in a world where information is available in an instant.

"Many of the New Testament books, they were told to read the book aloud, and we don't do that a lot in the 21st century," Meyer said. He hopes that doesn't stop people from trying.

"Everyone fills themselves with something," he said. "And as Christians, we believe you should fill that with the Bible."