First presented by the Lawrence 1st Ward for its ward Christmas party, the “Come Unto Christ” pageant now shows during Easter and has expanded to include all wards of the Topeka Kansas Stake.
Members wrapped up their seventh season on April 8, and volunteer coordinator Kristie Hansen explained how they transform a typical Church meetinghouse into 10 elaborately recreated scenes from Christ’s life.
“We try and cover all the walls, and we have done it with fabric. Every year we add something to it.” Sister Hansen said. “We have painted murals for several of the rooms also that then cover up the chalkboards and the walls. And then on the ground, we have either fabric or painted canvas that’s made to look like dirt.”
Lawrence-area missionaries greet each tour group in an introduction room and then discuss the eternal need for a Savior. Youth tour guides ages 12-18 then lead the groups down hallways and into classrooms where volunteer actors narrate events such as Jesus Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, the calming of the sea, the Last Supper, His suffering in Gethsemane, the crucifixion and Mary at the tomb, among other scenes.
The tomb scene, for example, was placed in the foyer area with the main entryway doors covered up by fabric, towering artificial plants and paper mache painted to look like stone. A side classroom in the foyer serves as the tomb entrance and looks as though the entire foyer wall was made of stone and had a doorway carved from it. A volunteer actor portrays Mary and then testifies to tour visitors that Christ lives.
This marks the third season as a stake-sponsored event, and organizers sent more than 100 personal invitations to other neighboring faith groups’ meetinghouses in the area.
Sarah Steimle returned as a youth tour guide this season and said the pageant hosts members and nonmembers alike during the recurring one-hour tour.
“Whether they’re thinking about Christ for the first time or pondering what He can do for them — it’s really cool to see the Spirit touch them,” the 16-year-old said of her interactions with nonmember visitors. “You can really see them think about Christ probably like they never have before.”
“A large part of why this event is really awesome, is just the inviting,” Sarah added. “We have little cards that we can hand out to invite people with, and each card or each invitation is an opportunity to have a missionary experience.”