Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Passion Play Moves to a Jamaican Beat, . . . `Heads to Hearts'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Passion Play Moves to a Jamaican Beat, . . . `Heads to Hearts'

Article excerpt

Members of Mid Rivers Baptist Chapel in St. Charles took their Passion Play on the road last month to Montego Bay, Jamaica, where a beach provided the backdrop for the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mid Rivers Chapel members have staged the production every Easter for the past five years at the Jungs Station Road church.

The troupe has 170 actors, singers, technicians and carpenters ranging in age from eight to 75. In addition to four evening performances, the church members took puppet shows and skits to the schools and streets of Montego Bay. On the final night, the cast performed a praise and worship musical titled "God With Us."

Despite intense heat and a back-breaking work schedule, most travelers are ready to go again, said Kirk Herweck, minister of music and praise at Mid Rivers Chapel.

The driving force behind the trip, according to Herweck, was to leave Jamaicans with an emotional understanding of the resurrection through visual and special effects. Even though there are more churches per square mile on the island than any other country, said Herweck, he said that the Jamaicans lack the visual advantage that movies, television and live theater provide.

"From a missionary standpoint, we felt if they could actually see the story of the resurrection it might move it from their heads to their hearts," he explained.

Montego Bay has a population of 200,000. Herweck estimated overall attendance at 100,000.

"When you draw half the town to see what you're doing, it's pretty impressive," he said. "As we walked through the streets during the day - being white - we were identifiable and people came from all over the place to talk with us," he said.

The trip to Montego Bay was a family affair for the Buxton family of St. Charles County. Bob Buxton was one of 30 technicians and carpenters who flew to Jamaica five days before the cast to set up the sound and visual system.

Buxton's wife, Sandy Buxton, was a member of the choir. Their daughter, Shannon Buxton, 12, acted the part of a runner who announced the coming of Christ to the crowd, and their son, Brian, 8, played a crippled boy in the healing scene. …

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