By Kara Witherow, Editor
On a typical Sunday morning, Rev. George Herndon sports traditional church garb: a button-down shirt, a tie, a suit, and closed-toe shoes.
But during the past five Sundays, from March 4 through April 1, Rev. Herndon, pastor of Brunswick’s Arco United Methodist Church, traded his typical sermons for dramatic interpretations of scripture and tossed his traditional trappings for more authentic attire.
Portraying David, the shepherd boy, Rev. Herndon swapped his shirt for a tunic, his glasses for a head wrap, his shoes for sandals, and his Bible for a slingshot and bag full of rocks. As Charles Wesley, he wore a long gray wig and a floor-length black robe. On Passion Sunday, April 1, he depicted Jesus on the cross, complete with a homemade wooden cross and artificial blood on his hands and side.
“I have always wanted to dress up like Biblical characters and do dramas,” Rev. Herndon said. “You not only tell the story, but people get to see it, and it has more of an impact and makes whatever you’re talking about come alive.”
Rev. Herndon hopes that his dramatic messages help his congregation better understand and reflect on the scripture passages.
“We preachers pray and ask the Lord to guide us to help the people out there,” he said. “Anytime you dramatize a story or situation it makes it come more alive. Hearing is one method of learning, but sight and hearing incorporates more than just one sense. I get great response from the people.”
Scheduling the five dramas in the weeks leading up to Easter was intentional.
“In Christian education we used to say that if you got someone to come to Sunday school for four Sundays straight they’d keep coming,” Rev. Herndon said. “My thought with these five dramas was that if I could get them coming for these five Sundays maybe they’ll stay with us, maybe they’ll keep coming, especially with the next Sunday being Easter.”
Music from soloist Laurie Frank and pianist Tiffany Ours complement Rev. Herndon’s dramatic interpretation of scripture. Talented seamstress and Arco UMC member Candi Westberry created his costumes.
Rev. Herndon, who retired from full-time ministry from College Place United Methodist Church in 1991, began pastoring Arco UMC after serving 16 years in overseas mission work. Small and struggling when he returned to the pulpit, Arco UMC has grown under his four years of guidance, now averaging nearly 50 attendees each Sunday. Active and mission-oriented, every three months the congregation serves its community by painting houses, mowing lawns, fixing roofs, packing medicine, washing windows and more.
“The church is a small but loving group of people who love the Lord, love the church,” he said. “We’re a real active little church.”
Two years ago Rev. Herndon dressed as Isaiah and gave a dramatic telling of that book’s message. During the five Sundays leading to Easter he portrayed David, Simon Peter, Charles Wesley, John Mark and Jesus. Jonah may be next.
“I’ve always wanted to dress up like some Biblical characters during my 40 years in the ministry but never did. But I’m doing it now and really enjoying it, and the people really enjoy it, too!”