Through duo of dramas, West Memphis church brings Christ’s story into current culture

This year during Holy Week, First United Methodist Church West Memphis presented two dramas. Both stories relied on information found in the Gospels (especially John), but through costuming, language and the use of popular music, they set the scene as if the Last Supper and the trial and execution of Jesus happened today.

Last Call was set in a fictional bar and grill on Beale Street and featured Jesus’s last meal with his disciples, all the way up to his arrest in the patio (Garden of Gethsemane). It was written by members of the church community: Jayna Leitze, associate pastor the Rev. Michelle Morris, Anna Kate Spotts and Kate Stall.

In The Trial, a Good Friday drama produced by First UMC West Memphis, Jesus is executed by lethal injection.  PHOTO BY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS

In The Trial, a Good Friday drama produced by First UMC West Memphis, Jesus is executed by lethal injection.
PHOTO BY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS

The Trial, written by Laura Partlow Foster in consultation with Morris, depicted Jesus’ trial and execution in a courtroom and execution chamber of today, and included the seven last words as Jesus made his way from the courtroom to the execution table. Randy Sullivan played the role of Jesus, and more than 50 members of First UMC West Memphis worked to put on the two dramas.

Some unexpected and powerful moments unfolded during the presentation of Last Call.

As the final song played, an audience member broke the “fourth wall” and crossed over into the area where the play was staged. The man sat down with Sullivan (Jesus) and shared that he was facing some struggles—and that the story told through the play was helping him find healing and know Christ more deeply. Sullivan ministered to the man and then sent him peacefully back to his seat before the song drew to a close.

Another surprise came during the celebration of Holy Communion.

“While we distributed communion to the crowd, we came across a man in the audience who had never had Communion before,” said the Rev. Dr. Michelle Morris, the church’s associate pastor. “Our server, Laura Partlow Foster, helped him understand how and when to take it.”

Morris believes that both plays served to bring Christ to the community in new and valuable ways.

“I had prayed and prayed that we would be the Body of Christ in the world for the people who came, and that is exactly what happened,” she said.

To learn more about either or both of these plays, contact Morris at michelle.morris@arumc.org or 870-735-1805. For her reflections on the productions, visit the Bridge blog and blog archive at www.fumcwm.com, under the “Encounter” section of the site. Video of the plays is now posted on the church’s YouTube channel.