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Church Christmas play stars developmentally disabled adults

 


Church Christmas play stars developmentally disabled adults

December 21, 2004                                                                      

A UMNS Report

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Lyle Jackson

Abbie Briggs starred as the angel Gabriel in the Roswell (Ga.) United Methodist Church's Christmas play.

By Jan Snider*

With a wig atop his head and audience members seated in anticipation, the Elvis-impersonator warms up the crowd for the annual Christmas play. This gig is his choice to celebrate the season.

Cliff isn’t your typical Elvis-impersonator, and this isn’t the usual Christmas play. Cliff is one of about 30 developmentally disabled adults in the Noah’s Ark Sunday School class at Roswell United Methodist Church in Roswell, GA.  The class is a ministry serving an often under-served group of people.

 

For three years, class members have donned costumes and transported an audience of about 200 to Bethlehem where Joseph and Mary search for shelter. The speaking parts are brief, but the emotion behind the words is apparent. One actor, who has had difficulty communicating in the past, has memorized his lines and delivers them with confidence and pride. Onlookers say he’s blossomed.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Lyle Jackson

Denny Calhoun is a member of the �Noah�s Ark� Sunday school class for adults with special needs.

“If they don’t have a speaking part, they sing in the choir or they help usher people to their seats,” explains Gail Nabors, who, along with Penny Monk, coordinates the class. As the wise men and angels take their places, members of the congregation can hardly contain their smiles.

This year Daryl is the star bearer. He is draped in black and carries an electric star. When he ascends the stage, the star is plugged in and the “wow” factor affects both the actors and the audience.

 

The special ministry has been in place for more than 20 years. Class members chose the name, “Noah’s Ark.” Like the famous vessel, they are navigating the world with God’s blessing. Others in the church say that members of Noah’s Ark offer acceptance and purity that is lacking in many people who do not face the same challenges.

They group recently began a handbell choir. One parishioner says the ringers may know only one song, but they play it beautifully. They also perform other dramas occasionally, including at Mother’s Day and Easter. The group may try interpretive dance soon.

 

For more information about the Noah’s Ark class, contact Roswell United Methodist Church.

*Snider is a freelance producer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact:  Fran Coode Walsh, 615-742-5470, or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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