Faith Lutheran Church in Valley City invites the public to attend its Lenten drama series each Wednesday for the next five weeks.
Congregation members will perform a courtroom drama series called "The People vs. Jesus," each Wednesday night during Lent. The performance will begin right after a prayer and song at 6:30 p.m.
"The characters help us to better understand Jesus' life," Pastor Jolene Knudson-Hanse said. "Jesus is on trial, and so the jury is to say if he should be declared guilty or innocent."
The performance will feature a bailiff played by Wanda Auka, a judge played by Duane Larson, a prosecuting attorney played by Scott Johnson and a defense attorney played by Knudson-Hanse. Students serving on attorney teams are Trierre Smith and Emma Wiley with Scott Johnson and Anthony Capistran and Jesse Johnson with Knudson-Hanse.
The play will have a witness each week of the series, that Knudson-Hanse said "helps us think about how those first eyewitnesses perceived Jesus too." Virgil Kratz will play John on Feb. 20; Steph Mayfield will play Mary Magdalene on Feb. 27; Tyler Van Bruggen will play James on March 6; Adam Hart will play Herod on March 13; and Nancy Knutson will play Mary, mother of Jesus, on March 20.
"We wanted to invite the community to it, because it is more light-hearted," Knudson-Hanse said. "And I think it presents (Jesus' story) in a way that is just very accessible, and it helps people think about it in a different way."
"The first character is John, Jesus' closest friend, and just the questions that are asked, it helps you think about their relationship that they had, and the things that John knew about Jesus and then other things that only Jesus knew," Knudson-Hanse said, adding, "It made me think about John in a different way than I had too."
Knudson-Hanse said the audience can expect a bit of humor and emotion in the play.
"The prosecuting attorney, his character is kind of sarcastic and maybe asks different questions than we would think to ask him, because they are almost hurtful in a way," she said.
"You kind of get pulled into the emotions of it, too, how powerful it really would have been to have been John and to see Judus betray Jesus," she added.
Knudson-Hanse said they use the church chancel to make the scene look like a courtroom. The pulpit will be used as the witness stand, and the alter is the judge's bench.
The courtroom officials will wear modern clothes, but the Bible characters will wear "what we would think of as what they wore back in 33 A.D."