By Darrell Todd Maurina
First Assembly of God in Clovis is bringing back a tradition this year. For many years the church sponsored holiday drama presentations, and this year will be resuming that practice with a free musical drama at 7 tonight and at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
“That’s the Good News,” a drama presenting the pain of a man approaching his first Christmas after the death of his wife to whom he had been married for 40 years, will be performed by a cast of five actors, 20 choir members, six teen-age extras, and 10 child extras, as well as a half-dozen backstage workers.
That’s a major project for a church, but drama director Sherri Shipman said she enjoyed the work.
“This church has a reputation, a tradition, of doing great pageants,” Shipman said. “For a while they had taken a break from that but we are hoping to renew that again.”
Shipman said the performance won’t look like the stereotype of an amateur church pageant. The cast has been training for several months to learn a script for which the church has purchased performance rights, just as would be done with a community theater performance, and Shipman has 15 years of experience directing church plays in other congregations where her husband had pastored before coming to Clovis.
“It’s more than kids in a bathrobe walking across a stage,” Shipman said.
“It is a well-written script and well-written music.”
Shipman said the drama, while explicitly Christian, is written in such a way that people can understand and appreciate its central drama of a widower suffering the death of his wife regardless of their faith commitments.
“It’s thought provoking. It’s more than entertainment — it requires you to go away and consider what has been shown,” Shipman said. “It is very thought-provoking about the presence of God in our life.”
Written by Christian authors David T. Clydesdale and Steve Moore, the drama tells the story of Will, a small-town radio news announcer facing his first Christmas without his wife. According to promotional material, because of his wife’s death, Will looks at the world in a different light, especially the news he reads every day of murder and theft, and he struggles with bad things happening to good and innocent people. The theme of the drama is that through a series of events and interaction with key people in his life, Will finds true peace on earth.
Church member Margaret Copley said she’s looking forward to the performance. She and her husband have been working with another church family on the props and backstage work needed to put on the production, and did the same in previous years for the church’s earlier performances.
“It kind of helps to bring the community together for a time of fellowship and hopefully it will encourage people who are not involved in a church to be able to participate in a Christmas activity,” Copley said. “Also, it helps people who have family coming in and visiting and all to renew their time of fellowship with family and friends.”
“If this can be an outreach to be able to encourage people to understand that Jesus Christ is the only hope for salvation, it’s just a real encouragement,” Copley said.