Family of faith: Four generations a part of Easter play

Published 12:13 pm Monday, April 15, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Four generations of the Riggins family will be a part of Providence Baptist Church’s Easter re-enactment at the sunrise service on April 21 at 6 a.m.

Ten members of the family are a part of the cast, including great-grandmother Frances Riggins, grandmother Sandy Minor, mothers Rebecca Powell, Emily McCurdy and Jill Easterling as well as their children Will McCurdy, Gabe McCurdy, Olivia Powell, Jude Easterling and Silas Powell.

“It is very rewarding to be able to pass your faith down to your children and to have them see it acted out, I think it adds a great testimony to their lives,” Emily McCurdy said.

The musical and narrated story starts with the birth of Jesus and features highlights from His life and ministry before depicting the crucifixion and resurrection.

Each year, the pastor asks for volunteers to act in the production. More than 100 people are involved in this year’s production.

Many of the adults of the Riggins participants have been in the production ever since it became an annual event.

Emily McCurdy said she was a “little bitty girl” when she participated in the first sunrise service re-enactment.

“For me, this is what we have always done, so I don’t know anything different — This is Easter. This is what you do,” Emily McCurdy said.

According to Pastor Glenn Bonds, Nila Minor was “the creator and director of the first sunrise service in 1981 and through most of the history of the service.”

This year, her grandson Ben Minor portrays Jesus in the production.

Music director Terri Minor, daughter-in-law to Nila Minor, leads the choir singers through each song from their setup behind one of the scene’s backdrops.

Sandy Minor, sister-in-law to Nila Minor, said she has attended Providence her entire life and was always involved in whatever the Easter observance was.

When the sunrise service play was started, she participated and usually plays the wife of Simon of Cyrene, the man who carries Jesus’s cross on the road to the crucifixion site.

She said the play serves as a way “to give our testimony as we walk through it.”

Having so many family members participating “is just precious” to Sandy Minor.

She said participating each year has given her a closer relationship to God and to her children.

“It is important to me that it is important to them,” Sandy Minor said.

The production has become especially meaningful to Emily McCurdy because it was during this service in past years that her children made personal decisions to become Christians.

Over the years, the roles played by each person have changed somewhat. Emily McCurdy said in the past she “has been many different parts,” including Mary in the Bethlehem scene, a crowd person and singer. This year, she plays the Woman at the Well and had a solo before joining the out-of-site singers.

Of her character this year she said, “It is a great testimony about how God can change lives about how Jesus took a woman who didn’t deserve forgiveness but gave her forgiveness and sent her away, and she brought more people to Him.”

Olivia Powell plays a member of the crowd.

“I just enjoy watching it,” she said.

She also has participated for about the past six years with her other family members.

“It just feels good to have family close,” Olivia Powell said.

Frances Riggins said she always plays a member of the crowd.

She said each year participating in the event helps her focus on what Easter is about

Many of the practices are held outdoors where the sunrise service will be held.

“Two weeks ago we nearly froze,” Sandy Minor said. “And, we’ve done it in the rain, and we’ve done it in the wind.”

A recent foot operation means Frances Riggins will be sidelined for the actual performance, but she will be in her Biblical costume.

Providence Baptist Church is located at 6197 County Road 97 in Clanton. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair to sit on in the field as they watch the story unfold.