Religious gatherings for Easter are sometimes small – sunrise services on church lawns or simple, reflective worship in modest sanctuaries.
Then there is the effort of The Rock Church, whose Easter musical production of “For What Purpose” is being staged with vocalists, a band, a large cast and crew, and even livestock.
The production at the 1,200-member Elk Grove church, 8520 Bradshaw Road, is in its 18th year. It tells a story that is 2,000 years old in about two hours.
A cast and crew of more than 250 church members endeavor to tell about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The director, Sheila Young, wife of Rock Church’s pastor, the Rev. C. Myles Young, leads a production that includes theatrical lighting, special effects, live music and lively animals on a 4,000-square-foot stage.
“We believe it is the greatest story ever told,” said Ryan Douglas Hammonds, church member and marketing director for the production. “Maybe people are familiar with the story but have forgotten about it. Bringing the life of Christ to a setting like this is impacting. You can feel the emotion.”
It is the fourth year that the production has been in the new, larger church building, a space that has allowed for a bigger production. Hammonds said the production moves quickly into Christ’s life as a teacher and ends with the resurrection scene.
It takes a month to put the production together. The cast includes babies, small children, teens and adults of all ages.
“We also have a bunch of lambs that are carried by children and adults, we have chickens, we have birds in cages,” Hammonds said. “A horse with rider comes into the sanctuary and marches up toward the front when they bring a scroll to Pilate during Jesus’ trial.”
He said the production transports people back in time.
“It is a different way to get the story across than a traditional sermon,” Hammonds said. “Building the stage is a lot of effort. There are a lot of late-night rehearsals. But the reaction of the audience makes it all worth it.”
For What Purpose
What: A cast and crew of more than 250 church members endeavor to tell about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
When: Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 and 7 p.m. Easter Sunday
Where: The Rock Church, 8520 Bradshaw Road, Elk Grove
Cost: Tickets range from $10 to $38