Easter is a holiday steeped in tradition, and a program at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jamestown is looking to teach the history of that tradition to people of all faiths this weekend.
Hillcrest's third annual Dust of the Rabbi will be held Friday from 6-9 p.m., Saturday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m., and Sunday from 10-11 a.m. and noon-1 p.m.
Mark Hinman, associate pastor of music and worship, said that the event is put together so visitors can follow in the footsteps of Jesus, beginning with his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Hillcrest’s third annual Dust of the Rabbi will be held Friday from 6-9 p.m., Saturday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m., and Sunday from 10-11 a.m. and noon-1 p.m.
Photo by Mark Hinman
"The idea is that you're not just watching a play, but you're actually following Jesus," said Hinman. "The last supper has just been celebrated, and visitors will go through Pontius Pilate's palace and the crucifixion scene, all the way to the tomb. We basically take over the church for the event."
According to Hinman, Hillcrest is transformed with sets and scenery, making it different than many other "Passion" plays because visitors have the opportunity to interact in the scenes themselves. There are opportunities to do everything from eating some of the passover supper to cleaning up the blood of Christ.
"It's a pretty high-impact event," said Hinman, who noted that despite the content, it's still suitable for children of all ages. "It's designed for the entire family, too, so it won't be too graphic."
Tour guides will be available to visitors, offering to show them through the event and providing narration for the scenes that are being performed. According to Hinman, it took roughly one year in planning for the first Dust of the Rabbi, and every year since then, Hillcrest has changed some aspects of it, added different scenes and chosen to emphasize some scenes more than others.
"You could come every year, and it would be different than the year prior," said Hinman. "One of the things that we find is that a lot of people are not familiar with the history of the Easter story, and this is very helpful with that from an educational perspective."
Last year, Hillcrest performed the event for roughly 700 people over the course of the weekend, up from nearly 500 the year before, and are expecting at least that many this year as well.
"People of any faith background that want to experience the Easter story in a fresh way will find this very meaningful," said Hinman. "We look at this as an outreach to the community, a way to help people understand the message of Christ and his life. We're allowing Christ to teach more about how to follow in his footsteps and walk his journey."
Hillcrest Baptist Church will also be holding an invitation-only showing of Dust of the Rabbi on Thursday, including a seder dinner. Only 50 spots were made available for Thursday evening, and almost all of them have been booked. The remainder of the shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are free and open to the public. For more information on the event, call the church office at 483-3331 or visit www.hillcrestjamestown.com.