First United Methodist Church offers drama on disciples Thursday night

Marianne Gillespie
Nathan Gray, left, portraying Peter and Dave Blunier portraying John practice for the drama “In Remembrance,” which shows the humanity of Jesus' disciples around the time of The Last Supper.

First United Methodist Church is offering something a little different this year leading up to Easter Sunday.

This year for the Maundy Thursday service, churchgoers will take a closer look at those who surrounded Jesus Christ during his ministry and the day before his death on Good Friday.

“As the narrator says, if you’re looking for saints, you’re looking in the wrong place. They’re just like everybody else,” co-director Wayne Miller said of Jesus’ 12 disciples.

That is the point of the drama “In Remembrance,” which will be performed during the 7:30 p.m. Thursday service.

“I think the idea is (residents) can get a lesson out of this. The disciples were human and this shows their humanity. The disciples were no different than the rest of us. We all can learn,” Miller said. Carol Ritter shares with Miller the directing duties.

The drama points out the disciples were sinners, said Jerry Mitchell, who portrays Jesus in the drama.

Ten disciples will be used for the drama due to the size of the front of the sanctuary at the church, but they will gather around a table for The Last Supper.

Narrator Doug Olson primarily handles most of the speaking with interjections of what is happening at the table. Additionally, a few monologues pepper the drama to highlight the perspectives of some of the disciples.

They explain what they did or did not understand, their struggles and what they had hoped Jesus would do.

Judas tells his side: “I didn’t betray him. He betrayed himself. … If you’re going to say you’re the Messiah, you better deliver the goods.”

The cast includes Jeff Earleywine as Andrew, John Wagner as Bartholomew, Briana Gray as Becca, Sam Massengill as James, Dave Blunier as John, Tim Mathis as Judas, Bud Ritter as Matthew, Nathan Gray as Peter, Jim Mitchell as Philip, Rick Bogner as Simon the Zealot and Cory Mikesall as Thomas.

Olson begins by setting the mood of the night and then explains the background of the Passover, a week-long commemoration of the Jewish people being delivered from Egyptian slavery. The time of the service is a little later to set the mood of what the disciples last night with Jesus would have been like.

“In Remembrance” was a video that church members had seen previously through The Upper Room and put out by Grace Productions. After finding out there was not a copyright or a fee, Miller said the video then had to be transcribed so they could put on the production.

“That took a long time,” Miller said of the half-hour drama.

The group began practicing weekly March 11 and recently met twice a week to be ready for the service.

“It has a good message. It’s a well-known message but it’s told in a different manner,” Miller said.