Individuals and families interested in celebrating Easter with a visual re-enactment of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ will have the opportunity on Easter Sunday.
The Waldensian Trail of Faith will host its new Easter sunrise production, “Resurrection Light,” at 6:45 a.m. on April 9 at 401 Church St. NW in Valdese. The event is free and open to the public.
After the 18-minute drama, attendees will move to the replica of the Temple of Ciabas, located in the small village of Angrogna, Italy, for a short service. Then visitors will move to the adjoining Visitor’s Center for a free breakfast, compliments of Mount Calvary Baptist Church, The Trail of Faith and Granny’s Kitchen.
The Waldensian Trail of Faith has hosted an Easter drama for around 25 years, said former N.C. Sen. Jim Jacumin, president of the outdoor museum, who came up with the idea to have the drama on Easter Sunday.
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“It was a natural setting with the cave and the oldest Protestant church in the world right next to it,” Jacumin said.
The drama was written by Karen Knight, president of Heartsongs Ministries Inc., Jacumin said. She is best known for playing Mrs. Noah in the production “Noah, The Musical,” at Sight and Sound’s Millennium Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Branson, Missouri.
“She is one of the finest Christian ladies you’ll ever meet in your life,” Jacumin said. “We sort of came together. It’s almost a miracle that we met and all of this came about.”
In 1993, when they were building the Trail of Faith exhibits to represent 2,000 years of Waldensian history, the replica of the cave was important because in Italy, the Waldensians had to hide in a cave in order to worship. Many of them were slaughtered when they were discovered.
For the Easter drama, Jacumin wanted to add a huge stone to place in front of the cave to represent the tomb of Jesus. To make the resurrection more realistic, Jacumin also decided to make the stone roll away on its own.
“The idea came to me about how to sort of do it,” he said. “The details weren’t working for me. I kept praying about it, and the vision came to me for how we could make it move without people being able to tell how. That is how I designed that aspect of it. My grandson and I made the rock out of cement. Matt Little’s company, Fabrication Associates Inc. in Charlotte, actually formed the stone angles and the channels that it rolled in, which would have been several thousands of dollars in fabrication work and they ended up giving it to us. Then, Parker Welch from the North Carolina Zoo actually painted the concrete to look like rock.”
The two-ton rock required large equipment to move it from Jacumin’s home to the Trail of Faith. Jacumin’s neighbor, Andy Taylor, and his father, Phil, had the needed equipment and volunteered to move the rock free of charge.
“They are a wonderful family in the community,” Jacumin said. “I’ve known them for years and they are totally God-fearing people.”
Many churches in the area do not offer sunrise services on Easter Sunday, Jacumin said.
“We would really like to invite each of them to make the sunrise service at the Trail of Faith their annual event and join us in that,” he said.
This year, the stone will roll away by itself, accompanied by music, and the Lord will rise in a cloud to the top of the cave where he will address his followers, Jacumin said.
“The feeling is so intimate, like you are actually there experiencing it,” he said. “It really stirs your emotions. It shows how much Jesus loves us and how much it cost him.”
For more information, contact the Waldensian Trail of Faith at 828-874-1893 or email@example.com, or visit www.waldesniantrailoffaith.org.