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Roseville church brings Jesus's Last Supper to life

Third-annual pageant held at First United Methodist Church
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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For the past 35 years, Don Harris has seen the Last Supper come to life.

The Christian man enjoys sharing that experience with others and directed the third-annual Last Supper re-enactment at First United Methodist Church of Roseville on Thursday evening.

"It's good, and it makes you really think," said parishioner Enid Parrish of Granite Bay, who has attended the church since 1987. "The people who are in it really give up their time to learn their lines and their parts. This is the third year I've seen it, it's really inspiring."

Harris has participated in dozens of productions reflecting Jesus' final meal, which he shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. During supper, Jesus is believed to have predicted his betrayal by Judas. Easter commemorates when Jesus rose from the dead, according to the Bible.

The Last Supper play was written by Ernest Emurian and first presented in 1969 at the National United Methodist Men's meeting at Purdue University.

During Thursday's pageant, the actors playing Jesus and his 12 disciples sat quietly in their roles, reflecting the scene from Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting "The Last Supper," until periodically breaking out into speaking parts.

Harris first participated in a re-enactment in Nebraska in 1977. Then he moved to Wyoming and directed the play at a church there from 1979 to 1998. He brought the idea to First United Methodist in 2010.

"They said, let's try it," he said.

More than 30 volunteers - including the 13-member cast - worked on the pageant. Harris said the event helps community members better understand the significance of Easter, and benefits the volunteers.

"I find it a growing experience for people willing to participate," he said. "Public speaking can be devastating and this is a breakdown of that big barrier and many of the people go on to do other things with the church."

Philip Wood contributed to this report.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.