4 churches bring story of Last Supper, Holy Week to life

Four area churches joined together to commemorate the events of Holy Week with “The Living Last Supper,” a drama centered around the Last Supper.

Members of River of Life Church in Dundee, Mich., New Life Church in Petersburg, Mich., and CityLight Church and Master’s House Church in Toledo, all part of the Open Bible denomination, staged a 75-minute original drama that covered the highlights of the Passion Week from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, with palms waving in adulation, to his betrayal by one of his apostles.

About 100 people attended the drama on Thursday night (April 17) at the Ohio Theatre on Lagrange Street in the Polish International Village neighborhood. Admission was free and an offering was taken to go toward ongoing restoration of the historic theater. After the play, audience members were given bags with groceries and a take-home Communion kit.

The play was written and directed by Dianne Earl, wife of the Rev. Ron Earl, pastor of River of Life Church. This year’s production was the fourth annual, she said afterward, and each year it has gotten bigger.

Members of four Toledo-area churches portray Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper. Photo by David Yonke/Toledo Faith & Values

Members of four Toledo-area churches portray Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper. Photo by David Yonke/Toledo Faith & Values

“The first year all we did was the Last Supper, which was kind of boring, really,” she said.

The current version of “The Living Last Supper” was a mix of dialogue — some right from the Bible — and music, highlighted by several powerhouse vocalists including Rachel Doyle, who played the part of a servant girl and sang the closing song. James Mann played Jesus, and Ryan Charnock gave the role of Judas more depth than in most Passion Plays, telling the audience that he started out “as a good guy” but betrayed Jesus to the Romans because he had to look out for his own interests.

Peter, played by Dan Martin, talked about the time he got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. “I’ve got one word for that: Sweet!” he said.

The Rev. Tom Rupli, eastern regional director of Open Bible Churches, narrated with an effective mix of reverence and drama. The Rev. George Williams of CityLight Church, holding a Bible aloft, said a prayer for the audience at the end of the presentation.

Dianne Earl said afterward that “God just placed it on my heart” to create a Holy Week drama. “Churches do a good job for Easter but the week leading up to it is kind of foggy,” she said.

Ron Earl said this was the first year the Living Supper drama was performed outside of a church, with the goal of reaching people who normally don’t attend religious services. “Too often we make church out to be a showroom for the saints instead of an emergency room for the sinners,” he said. “We’re all sinners. We’ve all got what I call ‘junk in the trunk.’ We really wanted to bring this drama to people who don’t go to church.”

Jan Czernik, the Ohio theatre’s manager, said the building, built in 1921, recently underwent a $1.5 million renovation which was phase 1 of a long-term plan to restore the theater. Phase 2 will include fixing the cove lights, repairing areas damaged by a leaky roof (fixed in Phase 1), and replacing incandescent bulbs with more efficient LED lights. In addition, restoring the signature marquee, which was destroyed by lightning in 2004, will cost between $300,000 and $500,000, Czernik said.

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4 Responses to “4 churches bring story of Last Supper, Holy Week to life”

  1. Denis Eble

    I know that at one part of the Seder children take part and ask questions about the Passover. I’m not sure if this custom can be traced back to the Jews of that time period, but if so, a child/ children are needed.

  2. Michele Joseph

    That’s a very good point, Denis.
    It seems almost certain that you are right.
    I looked up the painting you refer to,and there is one child.
    I would expect, given that males were considered men at the age of fourteen,
    and that the law considered women unclean and not suitable for intercourse
    for all but a few days ( which happened to co-incide with her ovulation),
    the room should have been crawling with children. SRO
    I remember from my trip to Israel,that the upper room is not
    very large, maybe 10×12 or 12×14, max.
    Is it possible that the apostles & disciples were unmarried, as Christians
    believe was the case with Jesus?
    I do not recall any verses that might disclose this.
    Maybe a better Bible student than I can provide info
    If so (that they were single)- how weird would that be?
    Would they be credible ?t
    I have found in my studies that among the Orthodox, a Jewish man needs a wife & children & property to be considered a. hetero-sexual & b. a mature man who handles man responsibilities.
    Were they an unusual sect ?
    I read that those who claim Jesus was an Essene are considered heretics by the mainstream.
    Wouldn’t He have been Orthodox for sure ?
    He certainly wasn’t Reform.
    Maybe I am wrong .
    But, you are right, Denis.
    A childless & womanless Seder would be weird.
    After all, who made the matzo that came to be called the Body of Christ ?
    The men certainly would not-had there been women present.
    What would the women have been doing otherwise- playing MahJong ?
    I can’t imagine that women who loved & respected Him would treat Him that way.
    You know- you are right! Where were Mary & Mary Magdalene ?
    I hope someone can explain.

  3. | Toledo Faith & Values

    […] joined together to present a drama, with music, about Holy Week and the Lord’s Supper. Titled “The Living Last Supper,” it was presented on Thursday, April 17, at the Ohio Theatre on Lagrange Street. Donations were […]

  4. Denis Eble

    While this representation of “the last supper” is quite traditional, I find Bohdan Piasecki’s painting of the Last Supper to be more authentic- more true to the life and times of that era. This Passover supper was quite normal in the sense that no one there thought it would be the ‘last’ supper together.

    It was a traditional meal with women and children at the table. After all, who prepared the supper? Who served the supper? Who cleaned up afterwards? It wasn’t all about 13 men, yet, to this day, the myth lives on.

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