"The Living Last Supper," a drama based on a famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, has become a biennial Lenten tradition at First Presbyterian Church in Conway.
The drama, written by the Rev. Ernest K. Emurian, Methodist minister, artist, author and hymn composer, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Maundy Thursday by the men of the church. It is based on a mural commissioned in 1494 for the dining room of the Covent Church of Milan, Italy. The mural depicts the Passover supper Jesus shared with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion as it would have been had it taken place in 15th Century Italy, rather than in First Century Palestine. It captures Jesus and the disciples at the most dramatic moments of the supper, after Jesus’ announcement: "One of you will betray me."
Each disciple responds to Jesus’ words by expressing his doubts about himself and his faith in Jesus.
In the original script, Jesus, although the focus of the drama, has not had a speaking part.
This year, the drama is heightened as Jesus speaks the familiar biblical words about betrayal and betrayer. After the disciples’ monologues, Jesus again speaks, this time the familiar words of the institution of "The Lord’s Supper," as it has come to known, the words that invite the original disciples and all believers to partake of Holy Communion.
Jesus will be portrayed by the Rev. MikeVenson, parish associate for worship and spirituality at FPC. The Rev. Drew Travis, pastor of the church, will serve as narrator. The disciples and their portrayers are: Peter, Jim Ford; James and John, the Sons of Thunder, Bill Lacy and Donn Vangsnes; Andrew, Steven McConkie; Thomas, Brad Crosson; Matthew, Jim Hays; Bartholomew, Art Gillaspy; James the Lesser, Jim Lane; Phillip, Terry Love; Thaddeus, Richard Talley; Simon, Joe Pruett, and Judas, Daniel Williams.
Working behind the scenes will be Matt Jeffery, set construction and maintenance; Sheila Rupert, properties; Caryn Jeffery, makeup and costumes, and Geoff Ryken, lights and sound. Bob Kain is directing the drama.
Other Holy Week events at FPC include:
• A Tenebrae Service at 7:30 p.m. on Good Friday, which will include "Medley of the Cross," special music by the FPC Chancel Choir under the direction of Lyle Rupert, and a handbell piece, "Lamb of God," by students from Hendrix College and the University of Central Arkansas;
• A 6:30 a.m. Sunrise Service in the memorial garden on Easter Sunday, which will feature a guitar ensemble accompanying the congregational singing; and
• The 10 a.m. Easter Sunday Service, at which the Chancel Choir will sing "Christ Is Risen, Sing Hallelujah!" by Stan Pethel, a rhythmic exclamation of the Resurrection, accompanied by Clara Martin on the piano, and "Welcome This Resurrection Day!" by Mark Hayes, with accompaniment by piano and brass ensemble.
The public is cordially invited to join the congregation for any or all of these special services The church is located at 2400 Prince St., next door to Conway High School West.