Hundreds of students, staff and locals gathered Wed. April 1 to witness the last days of Christ’s life. Everything from his first miracle to his suffering on the cross and his resurrection from the tomb plagued the crowd with a multitude of emotion.
For this year’s 76th annual Easter Pageant, university president Dr. Randy O’Rear personally selected senior nursing major Nathan Forester and senior public relations major Jasmine Simmons to represent the life of Jesus and Mary, respectively.
“When I was asked to portray Mary in Easter Pageant, I was very honored and a little confused.” Simmons said. “When it comes to being chosen for something like that you never think that it will be you.”
Forester selected his 12 disciples, and Simmons chose seven ladies to represent her mourners for this year’s production. Throughout the year Forester and Simmons each led his and her group through practices, weekly devotion and random fellowship activities.
However, it was more than just logistical training that led to a successful show. Many of the committee, crew and cast challenged themselves to prepare outside of practice.
“Getting ready to portray Mary was a preparation of the heart,” Simmons said. “Being casted as one of the leadership roles of Easter Pageant, people might assume that you have everything worked out.”
The same circumstances applied to senior public relations major Payton Pierce, who was chosen by President O’Rear to lead this year’s production.
“A lot of that was preparing myself for the role of leadership.” Pierce said. “The Lord sort of dropped this in my lap and said, ‘Here you go! Run with it.”
While practices never proved themselves flawless and the cast and crew bore the weight of responsibility on their shoulders, each person knew that the experience continually proved itself rewarding.
As Pierce focused on relationship building and encouragement towards the cast and crew, she was able to understand the best way she could lead by example.
“I did this by giving myself grace and knowing the Lord has given me this opportunity,” Pierce said, “And in anything and everything I do, I’m going to glorify him through it.”
This year sophomore nursing major Morgan Greentree, who considers Easter Pageant one of her favorite university traditions, participated as a crowd’s member for her second time.
While she never partook in a production quite like this one, she loves being a part of this UMHB tradition because it serves as her little reminder of what Christ did for her and everyone else that day on the cross.
“We want to show people the reason why Christ died for us,” Greentree said. “Not just that he did it.”
Overall, the experience among the cast continually reemphasizes relationship and Christ’s all-encompassing affection for his people.
“That is what Easter Pageant is after all.” Simmons said. “It is a fellowship of students portraying the greatest love story ever.”