First Presbyterian Church, Conway

"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, 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 (March 28) by the men of the church.

The drama is based on a mural commissioned in 1494 for the dining room of the Convent Church of Milan. This 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. It captures Jesus and the disciples at the most dramatic moment of the supper, just as Jesus stands and announces that he will be betrayed by one of them. Each disciple responds to Jesus’ words by expressing his doubts about himself and his faith.

After the monologues, the drama is heightened when Jesus offers a piece of wine-dipped bread to Judas and speaks the familiar words from scripture: "What you are about to do, do quickly."

Jesus then invites the remaining disciples to share the bread and wine, speaking the familiar words of institution of The Lord’s Supper. The drama ends with the disciples partaking of the meal.

Following the drama, those in attendance will be invited to participate in the sacrament, which will be celebrated by intinction.

Jesus will again be portrayed by the Rev. Mike Vinson, parish associate for worship and spirituality. The Rev. Drew Travis, the church’s pastor, will serve as narrator. The disciples and their portrayers are: Peter, Jim Ford; James and John, the Sons of Thunder, Tom Sinclair and Donn Vangsnes; Andrew, John Davis; Thomas, Luke Sexton; Matthew, Graham Senor; Bartholomew, Blake Thompson; James the Lesser, Randy Dodge; Phillip, Terry Love; Thaddeus, Richard Talley; Simon, Joe Pruett and Judas, Steven McConkie.

Providing music will be Theresa Spragins, director of Christian education, soloist; the chancel choir, directed by Lyle Rupert.

Working behind the scenes will be Matt Jeffery, set construction and maintenance; Sheila Rupert, set properties; Caryn Jeffery and Sheila Parsons Talley, makeup and costumes, and Geoff Ryken, lights and sound. Bob Kain will once again direct the drama.

Other services scheduled during Holy Week include:

• A 10 a.m. Palm Sunday (March 24) worship service that will begin with a procession of palm wavers, will include special music and will end with the stripping the sanctuary in preparation for the journey to the cross.

• A Tenebrae Service beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Good Friday (March 29). The Tenebrae liturgy focuses on the seven last phrases spoken by Jesus as he hung on the cross. Seven candles are extinguished one by one as each phrase is read from Scripture until the sanctuary is completely dark. To close the service, the Bible is slammed shut, which traditionally represents the closing of the tomb after Jesus’ death and burial, and the congregation leaves in silence that is unbroken until Easter morning. The Chancel Choir will present "On the Wondrous Cross," by Liebergen, as part of the service, and Beth Hays and Lyle Rupert will present a handbell duet, "Beneath the Cross of Jesus.

• A Sunrise Service will be held at 7 a.m. on Easter Sunday (March 31) in the church’s Memorial Garden, and communion will again be celebrated by intinction. Singing will be accompanied by several guitars. Breakfast will be served following this service.

• The 10 a.m. Easter Sunday worship will include the Chancel Choir singing "He Lives," by Pote, and "Welcome Resurrection Day," by Hayes, The choir, directed by Lyle Rupert, will be accompanied by a brass ensemble and by Clara Martin, pianist.

Childcare will be available for all services except the Sunrise Service, and transportation to the Thursday and/or Friday service may be obtained by contacting the church at 329-6483 by Tuesday (March 28).

The public is invited to join the congregation for any or all of these services and to celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper with the congregation.