Blythefield Hills Baptist Church celebrates 20 years of Easter dramas

Second chances give us strength to make tomorrow a better day and “The Eleventh Hour,” a modern Easter drama inspired by movies like “The Blind Side” and “The Pursuit of Happyness,” is a new, local production based on lost love, crimes and those priceless second chances. This Broadway-style musical interlaces the contemporary lives of a newly engaged young couple, a single dad, a caring landlady, and neighbors at a community center with the Biblical passion story. Performances take place at 7 p.m. daily, April 1-3 at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford, with tickets ranging from $3 to $5 on site or online at bhbconline.org.

Jesus, played by Kevin Shuneson of Sparta, blesses the children.

Jesus, played by Kevin Shuneson of Sparta, blesses the children.

This is the 20th year for Blythefield’s Easter production. Each year the passion story of Jesus is presented complete with hundreds of Palm branches waving on Palm Sunday, 12 disciples gathered around the table for the last supper, and the drama of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Each year also brings a fresh new framing of the story as it is told within the context of current events.

“This is my 19th year participating in the Easter drama at Blythefield,” said Kevin Shuneson, a fourth-grade teacher with Sparta Area Schools, who plays the role of Jesus. “Honestly, playing Jesus is very humbling. It’s given me a little more insight into the betrayal Christ experienced with people constantly wanting to be near him one minute and then just days later hearing those same people yell ‘Crucify Him!’ It’s an incredible price He paid for our redemption.”

Twenty years ago, Blythfield’s Easter productions took place in the 600-seat auditorium of their former building. When the production outgrew the stage size and seating capacity of the church, it was presented in Rockford High School’s Fine Arts Auditorium for eight years. In 2005, the church completed construction of a new worship center equipped with staging, theatrical lighting and an advanced stereo sound system, which accommodates over 1,000 people for each performance and has enhanced the ability to host the large-scale production back at the church campus at 6727 Kuttshill Dr., Rockford.

People of all ages participate on stage and behind the scenes. Many families participate together with babies, teens, parents and grandparents all lending their time and talents. It takes over 400 volunteers working as a team to offer this event to the community.

Thursday, April 1 is Family Night with tickets priced at $3. That evening’s performance will be signed for the deaf and hard of hearing. For ticket information, please contact Blythefield Hills Baptist Church at (616) 866-9597 ext. 34.

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