“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
– Luke 23:44-46
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor celebrates the life, death and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ in the 79th annual Easter Pageant.
Easter Pageant is one of the most beloved campus traditions by students and viewers alike. Hundreds of people from all over come to see this production and many more are able to access the livestreams of the show that started with the spring of 2017 showing.
Sophomore Christian studies major, Jacob Chesser, is this year’s Easter Pageant director.
He played the role of a temple guard during his freshman year on campus and was surprised when he was asked to be the spring 2018 director.
“It was a difficult transition because last year I only saw the scenes I was in and when I was asked to be a director I thought, “man I haven’t even seen what the whole show looks like”. So I have been watching the [livestream] from last year a lot, and it has been cool. It’s a big responsibility but I am honored to be here and I feel very supported.”
“The thing God has put on my heart and the way I want to lead Easter Pageant is that it is a place where people can know that, when they come here, they will be noticed and will become a part of the family.” Chesser said.
There are new people added to the course every day and there are a lot of people who jump in on the day of production. As of Tuesday Feb. 27 there are around 200 students in the pageant, but that number is expected to continue to rise.
Esther Weaver is a co-assistant director and a senior public relations major.
“Something we have been focusing on a lot that is behind the scene is making Easter Pageant more accessible to students and that any students can feel involved. We have been trying to reach out to those who in the past haven’t felt welcomed and are trying to show them they are,” Weaver said, “You don’t have to be a certain type of student to be involved because this is the gospel and the gospel and the kingdom of God out to be diverse.”
There has been some discussion concerning the pageants production and what could happen the day of the production.
“A big thing we want to do is this idea of responding. Every year people come to Easter Pageant and it moves them but we want to give them some way to respond and do something with those feelings and act on them. Whether it’s giving their life to Christ, start attending church, or serving somewhere we want this to be more than just a cool story.”
“We want this to be life changing,” Chesser said. “We will have a prayer and response team that will be ready to receive people who either want to give their life to Christ or are interested in finding out more about who Jesus is.”
Mick McCarthy is Campus Activates Board (CAB) director and oversees the production. He has worked with CAB for 18 years and has overseen the production of many showings. “It could seem repetitious but I have never seen it that way. It’s the same track but every year it’s 250 different students. We are literally walking the read words of the bible and the fact that it’s our community coming together to walk through the red letters of the gospel is amazing.”
McCarthy explained that the response team is still going through processes on how they want to handle responses and requests on the day of Easter Pageant, but they will continue to work on it as Easter Pageant grows nearer.
Senior pre-physical therapy major, Mathew Langford, portrays Jesus this year and has participated in the pageant since he was a freshman.
“It’s a pretty crazy mindset to get behind. It’s been eye-opening and interesting to see what it was like to step in his footsteps,” Langford said. Langford explained that past Jesus’ have done various disciple challenges and this year he did one in a more local sense. The rule were that for five days and five nights they had to live like a true disciple. If the students portraying disciples wanted to go anywhere they could only walk and they could not stay in their own apartment, house, or room. They had to stay with someone else for a night. Langford said it was cool to see how this was what the disciples in the Bible did for three years.
Junior social work major, Joey Mainini, plays one of the disciples in the pageant. He said that he wasn’t a huge fan of the challenge at first but then looked at it as having a sleepover at a friend’s house every single night.
“It was so much fun and it showed me a lot of what it means to be a disciple and to slow down and focus on your relationship with Jesus,” Mainini said.
Student are encouraged to join the Easter Pageant and are always welcomed at the practices. The Easter Pageant will be held on March 28 for three different show times. The showtimes are 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.