ST. JAMES’ LIVING LAST SUPPER LIVES, BUT NOT IN TRADITIONAL SETTING
LIVING LAST SUPPER
An abbreviated performance of the Living Last Supper can be seen at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 9, on St. James United Methodist Church’s YouTube channel. After Thursday night, it can be seen at any time.
By LORETTA FULTON
Normally, the final performance of the Living Last Supper is presented on Maundy Thursday at St. James United Methodist Church.
This year, the one and only performance will be streamed via YouTube at 7 p.m. on Maundy Thursday, April 9. Just like everything else, this tradition at St. James, which originated in 1988, has been altered by the coronavirus pandemic.
But thanks to technology, a willing crew and desire to carry on, the Living Last Supper will live, if only on YouTube. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Dot Lea, has been presenting a Sunday morning service on YouTube since the coronavirus threat brought everything to a halt. Filming the Living Last Supper seemed a natural extension.
“We kind of realized we weren’t going to be able to do a lot of things,” said Jared Kingston, who portrays Jesus in the production.
Traditionally, three performances of the Living Last Supper were staged in the church’s sanctuary, with the public invited to attend. The play brings to life the famed painting, “The Last Supper,” by Leonardo da Vinci.
The shortened performance will end with Lea inviting viewers to participate in the Love Feast or agape meal, which recalls the meals Jesus shared with disciples during his ministry. Viewers will use unconsecrated bread and water as a replacement for the Holy Communion service that traditionally comes at the end of a performance of the Living Last Supper.
At the beginning of the traditional production, a museum guide describes the painting to the audience. When it seems like the painting is about to come to life, the guide leaves the stage and the actors take over. Each of the 12 apostles gives a 3 to 5 minute monologue.
Members of St. James United Methodist Church reenact the Last Supper. Top photo left to right are Rich Stacey, Griffin Jones, Jared Kingston, Alan Jones, and Lanny Mullins. Bottom left photo, Alan Jones. Bottom right photo, Lanny Mullins, left, and Jared Kingston. Submitted photos
For the abbreviated version, five actors–Jesus and four apostles–met Saturday, April 4, to film an approximately 40-minute version of the normally one hour and 15 minute production. Besides the actors, Mike Stephens and Lea were present, keeping under the 10-person limit mandated by coronavirus protocols.
Stephens normally directs the production at St. James. He said four apostles were selected for the abbreviated production, James, John, Peter, and Judas.
“These were the ones who seem to be the closest to Jesus,” he said, and they are well known to the audience.
The filming was done in six segments, which were edited and mixed with pre-recorded hymns for the final video. The YouTube production of The Living Last Supper won’t be what members of St. James and the community are used to, but it will bring some sense of normalcy to a very abnormal Holy Week. Kingston, who portrays Jesus in the production, said the crew was happy to be able to present the Holy Week story, even if in a shortened form.
“I think we’re all happy, “ Kingston said “to at least be able to do it.”
Loretta Fulton is founder and editor of spiritofabilene.com
In photo at top Jared Kingston portrays Jesus serving the apostles in a performance of the Living Last Supper, presented annually during Holy Week at St. James United Methodist Church. Submitted photo