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Valley City church invites community to its Passion Walk

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    Jonathan Myer is pictured as Jesus during a dress rehearsal performance of the Passion Walk on Sunday at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2233 Abbeyville Road, Valley City. Performances are scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the church.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Members of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Valley City participate in a dress rehearsal of a scene from its annual Passion Walk show. The show is free and open to the community, and will be performed 6:30- 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the church, 2233 Abbeyville Road.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Jonathan Myer, left, portrays Jesus, while Brandon Kutz, right, performs as the disciple James during a dress rehearsal of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church’s annual Passion Walk performances.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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VALLEY CITY — Rather than putting on a traditional play depicting the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Valley City will present its Passion Walk this weekend.

Visitors attending the 11th annual performance will be greeted by a marketplace reminiscent of 30 A.D. Jerusalem before being guided through a series of scenes that will be acted out throughout the church and its grounds.

Director Mary Ann Dalgleish said the decision to do something just a bit different came down to the available space the church at 2233 Abbeyville Road.

“We don’t have the space to do it as a traditional play, with changing the scenes,” she said during a dress rehearsal Sunday.

Barbara Steingass, 73, said she will serve as a guide during the performances 6:30-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Visitors will be escorted to the different scenes throughout the church, eventually making their way to the sanctuary, where scenes depicting Jesus going before Pontius Pilate and his crucifixion.

“We will ask people to turn around and look in the balcony, and that is where the Crucifixion (will be), and then we come out the side and we are going to have the tomb outside,” Steingass said Sunday.

Brandon Kutz, 45, is one of several church members participating who already have some experience under their belt.

Kutz, who portrays the disciple James, said he has been doing it for at least six years now.

I don’t remember how they talked me into it, but I have been doing it for that long,” he said. “It is good fellowship and a chance to share our church family with a broader community.”

Kutz said that Zion Evangelical is a friendly and welcoming place for individuals to spend their Sundays, and he hopes that message comes through during the performances this weekend.

On the other end of the spectrum is 12-year-old Jonathan Lynn-Botts, who is participating in the show for the first time, portraying a Roman soldier.

“I really like acting, I am in the school drama club,” he said Sunday. “I just really enjoy acting and I really enjoyed being a soldier this year.”

Lynn-Botts said he anticipates he will participate next year as well.

Aiden Haggard, 12, said the 2019 performances will be his second year taking a part in the Passion Walk. He will play one of the disciples during a scene depicting the Last Supper.

“I really like the aspect that you are kind of bringing it back to life,” Haggard said Sunday.

Haggard, who is being joined by his brother and dad for the show, said the live scenes can give spectators a more realistic and accurate depiction of what actually happened to Jesus.

Dalgleish said some 60 members of the congregation participate, and everyone starts communicating just after Christmas to prepare for the Easter season production.

After so many years, Dalgleish said, the church has the show just about down to a science, unlike earlier years when costumes and sets had to be made.

“At first it was getting the cast because it is all young men, and we are not a big congregation, and so we have to convince all the young men that they want to do this, but they do,” she said. “They start growing their beards.”

Dalgleish said that due to the fact that the scenes are separate, four people portray Jesus, three perform as the disciple Peter and two as Judas.

“You know who they are by their costumes is the idea,” she said.

Dalgleish said that the show is free to anyone who would like to attend, and refreshments will be served following the show both nights.

For information, visit www.zionvc.org.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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