Horizon Christian Church invites residents to learn more about the life of Jesus Christ in a dramatic presentation March 30-31 and April 6-7 at the church, 1720 S. St. Cloud Ave., Valrico.
Those attending will be witnesses to Jesus and his disciples in this dramatic re-creation of the final days Jesus spent on the Earth.
Attendees will view His triumphal entry, watch as Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with his disciples, feel the torment as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemene, be a part of the crowd as Jesus makes His way to Calvary where he is crucified and rejoice with the disciples as Jesus is resurrected.
Doors open for the free event, "Walk the Way of the Cross," at 7 p.m. and close at 10:30 p.m. each night. Tours run approximately every 10 minutes and each tour takes about 45 minutes, said Tammy Wallis, church secretary who has also been a tour guide for the drama.
"This is really our gift to the community," said Wallis. "It's a very memorable event. I've been through it a lot of times but it still gives me goosebumps."
Dave Chamberlain is the director of the realistic drama that features 150 members of the congregation in a variety of roles. This is his fifth year to direct "Walk the Way of the Cross."
He got the idea of presenting the Passion of Christ to the community after working on the "Walk Through Bethlehem" at Central Baptist Church in Brandon.
"I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could present Jesus' final days the same way?'" said Chamberlain.
"It's similar to the 'Walk Through Bethlehem,' but in our production, it's the actors, not the guides, who do most of the talking," said Chamberlain. "It's more like watching a play on stage but you're walking through the play and the scenes develop around you."
Chamberlain took pains to make the production as realistic as possible.
"We want people to really experience it as though they were there," he said.
The production includes 300 panels built by members of the congregation, including two new scenes this year. Scenes include the Last Supper, Pilate's Temple and a vision of heaven following Jesus' Ascension.
"It's very elaborate," said Chamberlain. "This is the single largest ministry our church of about 500 undertakes each year."
The drama has attracted more than 1,000 visitors the past two years. Chamberlain said some have never heard the story of Christ's crucifixion. Others are familiar with the story but are moved to see it come to life before their eyes. For many families, he said, touring the re-enactment has become an Easter tradition.
"We're proud to say that one out of 10 people who view it either become Christian or rededicate their lives to Christ," said Chamberlain.
Depending on the crowds, there may be a wait for the tour to begin.
"But for those waiting for the tour, we provide a variety of entertainment in the sanctuary -- music, skits, videos and singers -- so the wait doesn't seem very long," said Wallis.
For addition information, visit the "Walk the Way of the Cross" website.