It came close, but the annual UMHB Easter Pageant has never been stopped by bad weather in all of its 79 year history. This year was no exception after all the rain in the morning and the night before. Though rain storms delayed the first showing by forty-five minutes, prayers were answered as the three performances of the play about Jesus’ life were performed that afternoon under clearing skies, just like the first performance in 1940.
Although the noon showing was delayed 45 minutes due to rain storms, there were still three performances that went as planned on the afternoon of March 28, just as it has since 1940.
That year, Easter Pageant began providing the surrounding community of UMHB with the extraordinary opportunity to witness the retelling of Jesus’ life.
Every year people come together from near and far to acknowledge and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as students at the university perform the story based on the ultimate sacrifice.
This was the second year that live-streaming of the play was seen by people across the world. Last year’s performance generated around 31,503 viewers, who came from 22 states and six countries, including Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Ghana, Nigeria and Germany. According to the university’s website, 1,000 streamers watched an entire performance online this year. In addition, 5,000 people attended Easter Pageant on campus.
One attendee, Lois Williams of Belton, has lived in the area for eight years.
“I think I’ve only missed one year since we’ve moved here,” Williams said. “I just love the story and the commitment of all the students who put it on, and I have three little grandsons who live here who come with us with our kids. I look forward to their response to the Easter story.”
Another audience member, Cynthia Tryon, is the advisor for the Association of Black Students on campus and has been coming to Easter Pageant for eleven years.
“I look forward to the scene where the tomb is rolled away, and Jesus comes out,” Tryon said. “I love the part where they always invite everyone to come to Jesus, to invite Him to their hearts.”
The performances that were livestreamed are up on the website and are still available to be viewed. Alyssa Silva, who works for the media services at the university, helped film Easter Pageant, and said that she learned a lot from the process.
“Last year, I was a part of the special make-up team and I was up close and personal with Jesus,” Silva said. “I saw firsthand what was happening behind the scenes and the emotional draining Jesus went through. This year was a lot different. It was a combination of my love for film and watching the full view of Easter Pageant.
“My favorite part of being involved is getting to see Easter Pageant not only once but all three times and knowing I captured it for people to look back on for years to come,” Silva said. “I love that no matter how many times you see Easter Pageant, it has just the same amount of emotion every single time and it’s such a great reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on the cross.”
The director for this year’s pageant was Jacob Chesser, a sophomore Christian studies major.
“It was amazing to watch Easter Pageant unfold,” Chesser said. “Seeing the whole thing from the audience this year was incredible. In all three shows, I really felt the Lord’s presence and love at the last scene, called Joy and Sorrow. It’s where everyone finds out that Jesus is alive. Everyone did a really good job with that scene. I felt like it gives you a little glimpse of the joy of heaven.”
Around 500 students came together to put on the show, which took a lot of dedication and effort throughout the year.
One participant who was actively involved in Easter Pageant was sophomore Christian studies major, Isabelle Smith. She was not only in the performance, but she also portrayed an ensemble member as well as a child caretaker.
“My favorite part of being involved in Easter Pageant is always the day of the performances,” Smith said. “It is an incredible day full of joy and sorrow.”
Easter Pageant is a major component of the university, and it also positively impacts the students who partake in it.
Jacob Dellinger, a freshman church music and music education major, was one of those people who was influenced by Easter Pageant. He played as one of the Sadducee’s in this year’s performance.
“My favorite part about Easter Pageant was the community of friends that I’ve gotten to know for the past month,” Dellinger said. “I gained a little bit more experience of what it was like during Jesus’ life before dying on the cross. Even though there are still things that I won’t understand, it’s been a life-changing experience for me.”
Isabelle Smith agrees with Dellinger.
“Being in Easter Pageant gives you the opportunity to get a taste of the death and resurrection story of Jesus; to feel the way people felt during Biblical times,” Smith said.