The Christian message of Easter will be on display at First Baptist Church this weekend.
Called "Near the Cross," a special "Easter worship experience" aims to remind viewers of Christ's sacrifice in a pair of productions Saturday evening and Sunday morning. The overarching theme of the show, according to director Sue Menefee, is for church-goers everywhere to remember that Easter's roots lie in Jesus Christ's death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.
The play, which is set to feature three instances of audience participation as well as several musical numbers, features approximately 40 church members in various roles. A 25-voice choir alongside the Praise Team band and vocalists will be joined by two soloists and two narrators (Gary Chambers and Karen Smith). Several participants will play the part of citizens of Jerusalem, while two others will portray Roman soldiers. An actor will also play the role of Jesus.
Sue Menefee told the Daily News that costumes appropriate for the era will be worn by many of the actors in the production. There will also be a point in the musical when church members will cease portraying their characters and will lay cardboard testimonials at the foot of a cross.
Menefee believes the production will be an enlightening experience for all who view it. She cited similarities to an Easter Cantata, but mentioned that "Near the Cross" doesn't strictly follow those guidelines, nor is it merely a re-telling of the Crucifixion.
The unique experience begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 31 in the First Baptist Sanctuary. Doors for the play open at 6 p.m. and the production is entirely free. An additional show will be performed at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, April 1 (Palm Sunday).
A flyer advertising the event notes that the presentation will include hymns such as "Remember the Cross," "My Chains Are Gone" and "Amazing Grace."
In an email to the Daily News, First Baptist Pastor David Thompson stated his church is "blessed with considerable musical talents which have been utilized to deeply touch this community." He called the presentation "a powerful musical with drama elements."
The program will end with an Invitation and Benediction by First Baptist Senior Pastor Cliff Bunch.
A traditional Easter service will take place at the church Sunday, April 8.
First Baptist Church is located at 209 West Washington Street. For more information, call (812) 663-3778.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056