by Elsie Walker
“It is a great experience, to see the life of Christ in 15 minutes,” said Kevin Iaione, of Mansfield. On April 19 and 20, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day (weather permitting), people can see scenes from the story of Christ’s birth through resurrection from the comfort of their cars. Mountaintop Church at 6 Naughright Road, Hackettstown will be presenting a drive-thru presentation of significant events in Jesus’ life in its parking lot. The presentation is free and all are welcomed to attend.
The church’s pastor, Rev. Matt Jones and Iaione shared what those coming can expect to see after they come into the church parking lot. The first thing will be an easy-up tent. There, each car will be given a CD to put in its player and asked to proceed (with the car windows down, if possible) to drive through the presentation. Each scene takes only a couple of minutes; Jones explained that actors at each scene “sort of mime the action” to the CD’s narration. Then, the car moves to the next scene. Scenes are spaced about 35-45 feet apart. The scenes depict Jesus’ birth, Jesus and His miracles, Jesus walking on water, the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal, Jesus before Pilate, Jesus on the cross between the two thieves, and Jesus, women and angels at the resurrection. This year an eighth scene, which Jones describe as “something special”, may be added. At the end, each car is greeted and palm crosses are given to the occupants.
Although it is setup for cars, Jones shared that in the past at least one person has walked through it, listening to the CD on a boom box provided by the church.
“What’s cool about it is that people who may not be comfortable coming in for a play or staying for something long [can see it all from their cars],” noted Jones. The presentation has been done three times before at the church (bad weather kept it from being held last year.) The idea for the presentation came from Iaione, a member of the congregation. Iaione said that drivethru presentations like that are done in the South, in states such as Florida. Many years ago, he was at a church which did one and that was how he first learned about the concept. Since then, Iaione has shared the concept with other churches. He’s also written the “script” based on the Bible that is used at Mountaintop Church’s presentation and supplies the costumes and designed the sets. However, he notes that it takes the efforts of about 50 congregation members to put it on and he appreciates their commitment, and them taking away from their Easter weekend to put it on. “I thank the congregation for doing this,” he said.
Alicia Perkins and her family, husband Larry, and sons Andy and Josh have been involved in the presentation for years. The Budd Lake resident explained that her sons have played Jesus at two different points in His life. This will be the fourth time Josh has played Jesus on the cross. Commenting on the presentation, Alicia Perkins said, “What’s really special is it is a way to tell the story of Jesus without words.”
Another congregation member, Emily Pearson of Long Valley, noted that the work needed for the presentation gives a chance for everyone in the congregation to get involved. “There are parts to play, scenery to build and set up and costumes to prepare. The two nights before Easter Sunday we all share a meal and pray together before going outside to rehearse miming our parts. Then comes the excitement of cars beginning to arrive…. we never tire of sharing the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection with our community,” she shared.
The Mt. Olive police will be on hand to help with traffic. The last time the presentation was held 220 cars went through it over two nights. Iaione added that having the presentation at night, with the lighting effects, makes each scene more vibrant. Reflecting on it all, he said, “Everybody who goes through has a ‘wow’ experience.”