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When you think of Easter pageants, you maybe think of a few cute kids singing songs, maybe some floral decorations, maybe a month's preparation. Take one look at Central Baptist Church on a rehearsal day, and you'll think twice.
"It really is a church-wide event, and it takes everybody involved," said Mandy Walker, a co-director of the show. "It takes 600-plus people just to get it all done, and it definitely started last year and has continued now."
Crunch these numbers: for more than 20 years, they've put on this show, a different line-up every year. Monty Hunt, the director, selected songs for the pageant one year ago. The music comes from 10 different musicals. There will be 18 scenes lasting an hour-and-45-minutes, covering 33 years of time. The set been under construction since October, with a dozen carpenters and thousands of screws. And then there are the aforementioned hundreds working on the show.
"It does a lot of good for me to see people get to meet people, to learn what their names are," said Hunt. "Because we're such a large church, we don't know each other."
"This is my third year to do it, and this one has been the biggest," said Katie Cross, who is an angel in the play. "It's a lot of fun. I'm meeting a lot more people that I didn't know in the church."
Here's another number for you: $20,000. That's how much money it takes for the church to put on this pageant each year. They'll make it back in donations and ticket sales. But one last number: zero. That's the amount of money the church will make off of this event. For the organizers and participants, it's not about profit. It's about sending a message, and creating a living history people will remember.
"Making a difference in people's lives is worthwhile," Hunt said. "It's worth all the pain that they go through and all the frustration they go through. But it's worthwhile when you can change a person's life and make an impact on a person's life through eternity. That, to me is priceless."