Outdoor Easter-play opens

Published 12:49 pm Saturday, April 4, 2009

By Staff
Piney Grove Baptist church follows tradition
Lifestyles &Features Editor
FARM LIFE — To Pastor David Anderson, Piney Grove Baptist Church’s “The Message of Easter” is more than an outdoor drama.
Anderson portrays the disciple James in the drama, now in its 30th season in the Farm Life community of Martin County. He said the congregation uses the pageant as an opportunity to offer prayer for folks in need.
Each family attending the pageant — which was scheduled to open with a Spanish presentation Friday evening, weather permitting — also receives a free copy of the Christian CD, “The Invitation.”
Even the younger members of the congregation — some only a year old — can participate. Emily Ward, 6, and Sarah Ward, 4, join their mom Shannon in crowd scenes; their dad Roger is narrator.
The Lilley family also make “The Message of Easter” a family outing.
Michael Lilley debuted as a child about 25 years ago; now his son Christopher, 14, has joined the cast. Lilley’s mom Melba has been a cast member for 30 years, and his late-father Rodney worked the lights, did electrical repairs and for two seasons was narrator.
Lilley portrays Thomas the disciple this year, but in the past he has been a soldier, cross bearer and innkeeper. He’s learned to expect the unexpected.
Linda Taylor — whose husband E.T. wrote the script for the drama and who directed it until his death two years ago — has taken her turn as a cast member. This year, she’s spending much of her time making sure even the smallest detail is as it should be.
One of her assignments is to keep an eagle eye out for watches, eyeglasses and other accessories that don’t belong in a drama taking place during the lifetime of Jesus Christ.
Preparations for “The Message of Easter” begin a couple of months before the show opens, Taylor said.
The outdoor theater is cleaned from top to bottom, and repairs are made to the set. As opening night nears, the ladies of the church place silk flowers to add a touch of color to the garden scene.
The drama meets its budget through a large bazaar held every fall. This ensures the church can continue to offer the free performances.
She admitted there is a bit of a letdown the night of the final performance each season.
related photo: Jesus, portrayed by Jimmy Griffin, right, washes the feet of Peter (Leslie Hardison) as other disciples look on in this scene from “The Message of Easter.” For more photos from the Christian drama, see Pamlico Horizons in the Sunday Washington Daily News. (WDN Photo/Kevin Scott Cutler)