Local Christians observe Easter with special events

Easter pageants, music and worship events abound in Mitchell this weekend, proving that for area Christians, Easter is about more than bunnies and egg hunts.

Easter pageants, music and worship events abound in Mitchell this weekend, proving that for area Christians, Easter is about more than bunnies and egg hunts.

Easter should be about the death and resurrection of Christ, said the Rev. Keith Nash, pastor of the Mitchell Wesleyan Church.

"The central message of the Christian faith is the fact that God has taken the steps to rescue us from our sins and to reconcile us to himself through the death of Jesus Christ," he said.

Nash's church is hosting "The Easter Song," a musical about Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his betrayal at the hands of Judas, his crucifixion and his resurrection from the dead. The free event will start at 7 p.m. today and at 10 a.m. Easter Sunday at the Mitchell High School auditorium. The story is narrated by Stuart Wolter, who plays the apostle Thomas. Co-directors are Ron Thorsen, who also plays Peter, and Mary Tirrel.

Steve Sibson, who plays Jesus, said, "It's a big message." He was recruited for the part because of his long hair and beard. Both needed some coloring, he joked, lest he appear more like God the father.


Sibson has no professional acting experience, but it isn't the first time he's been tapped to play the King of Kings. Mitchell Methodists had him ride a mule down Main Street several years back, he said,

"I'm a non-denominational Christian and I've been good friends with various congregations," he said. An old rocker, he also has filled in playing bass guitar with the Wesleyan praise band.

Sibson believes his Christian religion has given him peace.

"The idea is to share that peace with others, and this play helps me to do that," he said. "It tries to bring people to understand that Jesus Christ is real and that people can come to him for salvation."

The responsibility of the role occasionally weighs heavily. "I don't want to mess this up," he said.

The scene in which Christ prays for strength in the Garden of Gethsemane the evening before his death was tough for Sibson to portray.

"Christ knew the suffering he would go through. It was very powerful for me, and I got emotional and I lost it a couple of times during rehearsals," Sibson said.

The living Last Supper, which was Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church, has become another Mitchell tradition.


Doug Carlson and Kathy Hektner co-direct the musical drama that, every two years, recreates the famous Leonardo DaVinci painting that captures the moment Christ tells his disciples one of them will betray him.

Preparing takes two months, Carlson said. The event, which began in 1988, drew an audience of more than 400 from towns and denominations throughout the area, said Carlson, "which is the most attendance we've ever had."

In the drama, each disciple ponders if it will be he who is destined to betray Jesus. People look forward to the event and many say it makes their Easter, Carlson said.

In another Easter special event, South Dakota ELCA Bishop Dave Zellmer will preside at Trinity Lutheran's Easter Sunday services, assisted by interim pastor Earl Johnson.

The Rev. Jon Tolly, lead pastor at Northridge Baptist, said Easter brings faith to the forefront.

"Easter causes all of us to reflect," Tolly said, "and I think there's a higher spiritual awareness this time of the year. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of our faith and something we want to remember."

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