Shared by Tricia Gregory, she sent this in on the LDS Activities Email list and gave me permission to post it on my site.
A few of you have recently expressed interest in a “Walk with the Savior” program. Our ward has implemented a version of this for Christmas time including a live outdoor nativity by the youth. It has been an incredibly spiritual experience for those who participate in “working it” as well as those attending. The premise is rooms depicting the life of Jesus Christ: The Birth, The Ministry, The Last Supper, The Garden of Gethsemane, The Judgment, The Crucifixion, The Tomb/Resurrection (can be two rooms), and The Restoration. Our church is the oval configuration with the chapel and cultural hall in the middle. The Walk takes places around the perimeter then the guests are led into the cultural hall to enjoy the Spirit, live music and light snacks. The folder uploaded to this site holds multiple files describing each room in detail including the decoration, cost, script and a self critique and a critique of the program as a whole.
This program is not for the faint hearted or the small budgeted. I am shocked at the budgets many of you report. We spend very little money on any other activity during the year to conserve for this one. We also don’t buy anything that cannot be reused for the following year (except invitations.) We have only 5 activities planned this year and one of those, our annual service activity is combined with the Primary quarterly activity.
I love this forum and appreciate all your comments and ideas.
Walk With Christ Hope Mills 2nd Report 2005
Fayetteville, North Carolina Stake
By Tricia Gregory
The Walk with Christ Program originated when I was looking for activities online in the middle of 2004. I found an outline of this activity. (It will work for Easter or Christmas.) I don’t know who originally wrote it. When I was discussing the program with the Young Women’s leader in charge of the Christmas activity for the youth, I discovered she was coordinating a Live Nativity. We decided to combine the two activities and the end result was incredible! Our bishop’s council was if we couldn’t do a good
enough job for the community, we couldn’t invite the community.
Since our main goal was to help the community see that LDS members do worship Jesus Christ, we were determined to make it great. The
scouts took down the ratty fence in front of our church building and reconstructed a new one. The old wood was used to make the Stable.
More of the old wood has been used to make the cross for the Crucifixion Room and pieces for other rooms as well. We had a
successful year because everyone helped with a happy heart and there were many nonmembers and new members who came. Virtually every
member of the ward had an assignment – as small as bringing cookies or as big as decorating a room. The Spirit was so incredibly
strong! Even our youth had hearts softened and demeanors changed as they participated. The clean up was miraculous. Everything was
taken down and the church restored to its natural state in less than 90 minutes! Our ward became more unified and our testimonies were
strengthened. Our faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ grew.
We beheld the true meaning of Christmas.
There is no doubt that there were countless man hours spent. Our first year we spent approximately $700. This included $250 for Nativity costumes (one set), $100 on costumes for narrators/actors, $250 for advertising, and $100 for sets. This first year, the majority of the sets were personal items or things reused from other activities. The Youth’s budgets and the Activities Committee budget were utilized.
I think it is important to note the first year’s success (in production) because I want other wards to know that it can be done with love and joy. It can bring unity and strength to each ward as individuals and as a whole. It can change lives! It has changed mine.
The second year, we combined the efforts of the ward with whom we shared the building. We were unsure how to incorporate the efforts of two wards. Communication was pretty tricky. I would recommend the two persons in charge, one from each ward, have a clear understanding as to what time, effort, manpower and money is required to make it happen. Both must have an understanding of the desired outcome and have the ability to listen to the Spirit and to each other.
Staffing with Two Wards
We did not mesh the staffing of WWC very well this year. We divided the nights that we worked such that only the youth of both wards worked both nights. Also, decorated rooms were manned by one ward at their discretion as to how it would be staffed. (For example, The Garden’s room coordinator was in HM1st ward, so the actors/narrators for that room were from HM1st ward on both nights.) The intent was so that one person could do the acting both nights and involve fewer ward members. Only 2 of the 8 rooms ended up keeping them the actors same. The other rooms had at least two actors to share the position. The rationale for having multiple actors is so the actors can go on The Walk with their families too. All but one person was able to do this. Having two nights made it easier for the ward not working to come and enjoy in leisure. There was no reason not to have members from either ward helping in either night together rather than separating nights. We could have had more camaraderie and fun in serving together. We missed out on an opportunity to draw our two wards closer in love and charity.
The Walk with Christ Rooms
We utilized one room coordinator and in some cases had a team working together. The actors were invited by the room coordinator to participate in their room. The names were run past the WWC Director for the ward first to prevent duplication of assignments and in case there was a reason they shouldn’t have that assignment.
(Our biggest concern was both spouses have time consuming assignments. We wanted one parent to be able to care for their own children.)
I recommend there be one Room Coordinator and assistants (more or fewer as the complexity of the room dictates) organized early to help with brainstorming and/or moral support. It is imperative that there be enough people assigned to a room that the Room Coordinator alone is not overburdened with the responsibility of decorating in the days before. This will also be helpful to have these same team members present for clean up to help ensure items can get to their proper locations.
Either a set committee or a set person(s) assigned to each room is helpful for the room coordinator to delegate the construction of various things like stone walls, a well, a tomb, benches, easels, frames for hanging fabric or pictures, etc. Stone walls are especially great in the Ministry and the Tomb/Resurrection rooms.
The Restoration Room
There has been much discussion as to the appropriateness of this room. The purpose is to tie in how the life of Jesus Christ relates to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That He restored the gospel in these latter days. This is meant to be an informational room, not preaching in any way. When the room was completed before the program began, I walked into the room and was overcome with the Spirit as I took in the pictures, music and decoration. (There was no narration at this time.) We cannot be ashamed or embarrassed about what we believe. We need to be comfortable with sharing the Joseph Smith story. I will admit this is not the easiest part for me to share, but I know of its truthfulness and cannot hide from it. The Gospel is true! Our ward council discussed this room and unanimously voted for it to remain next year.
Decorating the Church
We wanted the theme of the Life of Jesus Christ to be carried throughout the church. On The Walk, empty classrooms had tables pulled forward into the doorway with nicely framed pictures of Christ in different scenes. Although we had so many beautiful pictures of the Savior by Himself, I felt it important to see Him with other people; ministering, teaching, loving, comforting. We used tablecloths to cover the tables and easels.
The foyers were decorated. The entry foyer had a large picture of The Nativity surrounded by poinsettias and potted pine trees. It was simple and beautiful. The exit foyer had a Christmas tree in gold and silver without lights, as the bishop’s handbook dictates. This foyer also had tables with surfaces covered in pictures and a little decoration.
The Chapel had 20 or so white poinsettias. Again, it was simple and beautiful. This was expensive though, and in time we will be able to purchase silk ones for reuse. There was a very large poster for the music schedule at the side/front of the choir loft.
The Cultural Hall was without rooms dividers so that one could see to the choir loft from the back of the room. When walking in the back door, I found it breathtaking to see Nativity Sets as centerpieces on tables covered in gold tablecloths throughout the room. As I looked to the front of the room, I could see the live musical performers. There was a table near the main exit with proselyting materials available for visitors to take home. This table was manned by Missionaries. Having missionaries present served two purposes: to be available to answer questions and to keep the children from running off with the pictures.
In the Cultural hall there was a Children’s Area. This consisted of the small nursery tables and chairs set up and Nativity sets made for children as the centerpieces. There were Nativity color pages and crayons available. Last year we had parents sitting with their children playing and snacking relatively quietly. This year we had 5 instead of 3 tables. This was too many. Parents seemed to let their children sit at the tables unattended and this led to children running around screeching in glee. We needed reverence. Next year we may consider no coloring and just have the Nativity sets. We will ask parents to keep their children with them.
We all love our children and feel comfortable letting them roam throughout the safe confines of our church, but this is not the appropriate setting for wandering kids of any age. This has been the foremost concern both years. This year we had a childcare for the children of working parents. This did not help the children too old to sit in a room playing with toys. An off-site kid-friendly environment will be better for school-aged children. They are the most difficult to contain. The onsite childcare room is good for the little ones only if both parents are working. Again, we tried to avoid this problem by only having one spouse work at any given time. If families are coming for their Walk, they need to keep their children with them at all times and when the tour is complete and their interest is gone, it is time to go home.
Our first year, the response for the music was a great success. Visitors were heard to express in astonishment that it was live music not a piped in CD. This year we had wonderful musical selections, but they could not be heard above the conversations of the members. Because this hadn’t been a problem the year prior, it was not anticipated and we felt ill equipped in handling the situation. We didn’t want to offend the visitors by announcing a call for reverence, and we could not think of a way to otherwise remind people it was a time for reverence. This was a distraction from the musical performers and for some of the rooms in the perimeter of the building. We want performers next year. We think it is a wonderful part of the program. But we must show respect to them or they won’t want to come. So, how to handle it?
There were several ideas presented: 1. Close the second set of Cultural Hall dividers so people could go listen in peace. Pipe the music into the remaining Cultural hall area. 2. Dim the chapel have the lights bright on the choir loft and have the volume of music turned up. Also, have an announcer to present each new performer/group. This will draw the attention back to the front of the room. 3. Have only a CD playing. Because arranging a musical portion is a big job, I would recommend first time wards consider a CD.
Having a lead guide at the entry door to help gather people into groups was especially helpful. As a guide completed a tour, he would return to the rear entry to pick up another group. We had only 8 guides and they worked for 2 hours. They really needed a drink and restroom break after one hour. Each of the guides expressed joy in their assignment and many asked to do it again next year. All needed help dressing, but none complained about wearing costumes. Having guides directing visitors from the Nativity to the rear entry is needed.
The Live Nativity was in the Back Yard of the church on a grassy area. We built the stable the previous year from wood we took down from the old church fence. We did not disassemble it between the 2004 and 2005 performances, although I have heard it expressed it would be appreciated to have it put away this year until next time. ƒº The parking lot was blocked off from the Nativity to the back door for the safety of all. It was awkward for drivers and it might be okay to leave the driveway open if guides will be helping visitors to the back door safely. The lights in the parking lot were not working and the outdoor lighting from the Nativity to the back door was nearly nonexistent. This needs to be improved.
The members working were asked to park at Rockfish School and a shuttle system provided to deliver them door-to-door. They were to meet by the exit door for their ride. The purpose of this was to ensure the visitors and ward members from other wards be able to have parking at the building. We found that we didn’t use all the parking spaces at the church either year. Perhaps we should park at the school only for overflow if needed. There are some ward members really put out by being asked to park elsewhere.
The idea behind having food is to have people feel comfortable stopping to listen to the music and absorb the feeling of the Spirit before they went home. This also gave time for members and missionaries to greet and visit with people they didn’t know. In other words, it buys us time while we try to make rounds to everyone. I feel like this helps the missionary effort. Both years we had nice finger food that would not crumble and make a mess. One ward had a large variety while the other kept a simple menu that included a little something for everyone. Food was made and donated (and served) by the sisters. Punch and water were served. We used the clear plastic dessert plates from Sam’s. A suggestion was made that only cookies and punch could be served. If I was bringing something, I’d rather pick up a bag of carrots or cut up some celery than have to make cookies. It is simpler and less time-consuming for me. I know this was helpful to some other sisters, too. For those who have the time to make baked goods, they are welcome and enjoyed. I think a simple variety is great. We kept the plates small so people didn’t think we were feeding them dinner. I like the idea of toning down how ¡§nice¡¨ the serving plates needed to be.
This year we contacted many TV and Radio stations and newspaper for public service announcements and had an announcement on the downtown Hope Mills Marquis. (The Fire Dept has a new policy preventing our ad this year.) I don’t think any of these forms of advertising were very effective for us. None of these things cost us money, but public service announcements do not get much air time. I do know of one less active and one part member family that came as a direct result of hearing an ad on the radio.
We spent $300 in 2004 and $280 in 2005 for invitations and flyers. We chose to make this year’s invitations much like a pass-a-long card for the ease of distribution to friends. Everyone liked how appealing they were to the eye and we received more for the money than last year. We had them printed in bulk at International Minute Press this year compared to do-it-yourself at Office Max last year. Next year we are considering two tones instead of a full color picture on the face of the card to cut costs, enabling us to print more cards.
I feel like the best way to increase our non-member turnout is for members to personally invite people. I passed out 30 invitations, received 5 commitments and 2 showed up. We all as members need to feel the conviction in our hearts to share the gospel and take the opportunity to invite. This activity is one that we can all feel comfortable bringing our friends to.
Have a budget and keep to it. Our ward saved 80% if its Activities Committee 2006 budget for the coming year’s WWC Program. This does not include the YW who have budgeted for more items for the Nativity costumes and deco enhancements (animals) for 2006. The cost of WWC Christ will become less each year following the first two or three. It takes a few years to build up the costume and set base. This isa program that a ward has to decide if they want to commit to financially as well as with time.
Walk with Christ DirectorI like the idea of a person specifically in charge of WWC not in combination with another calling. On the other hand, with proper planning and fewer, more significant activities, time will be available for the Activities Committee to participate instead of having attention spread in too many directions.
I thank my Father in Heaven for allowing me this opportunity to serve in this capacity. It is with great joy I have given my time in this effort with the goals in strengthening testimonies and inviting all to Come unto Christ.
(This was given out to all participants who had lead roles)
Walk With Christ Program
Fri & Sat December 9 & 10, 2005
Our goal is to have a strong Spirit present as we feel love for Christ and His ministry as members and non-members view the different scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. We will describe how Jesus Christ is the head of our church and how we believe His gospel was restored in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Thus we will remember the true meaning of Christmas. People will be asked to speak only in hushed whispers while on their tour.
We are asking Room Coordinators to design and decorate their room.
They will also be responsible for the written script which the actors will use. (No actors will portray Christ himself.) The actors will participate in their room assignment under direction of the Room Coordinator. There will be guides dressed period clothing to help direct traffic and assist to keep the reverence.
We will enter from the back of the church and start The Walk in the Primary Room. We will continue around the church ending in the Scout Rooms. Then guests will go to the Cultural Hall for refreshments, visiting and questions. In the cultural hall, missionaries will be present as will at least one member of the Bishopric. There will be live music provided by local school groups and ward and Stake members. This activity is in conjunction with the Youth who will be doing a Live Nativity outside in the back
grassy area. The community will be invited. Parking for members will be at Rockfish School and there will be transportation provided to the church. Latino participants will have scripts preprinted in Spanish for tour groups that have Spanish speaking visitors.
Advertising will be through flyers and media. We would like to formally invite community and church leaders to share this experience with us.
Hope Mills First and Second Wards will be working together as this production is time and energy demanding. With two wards, we should be able to have all ward members be able to take the “Walk with Christ” as last year there were many who were unable to do so. With this joint effort, we will also have greater ability to reach a larger number of community members.
Letter to Participants of the Walk with Christ Program
First of all, thank you for agreeing to participate in The Walk With Christ program. This is an activity that will help bring the ward and community closer to a better understanding of Christ’s mission and especially His last days on Earth. We are excited to have visitors travel through eight different rooms, each portraying a different event on the Savior’s life and the Restoration.
Simple guidelines have been given as to what kind of decor you may want to put in your room. These are only ideas. You may decorate as you wish, within the description of the scriptures given and as the Spirit may guide you. Please be mindful of the message to be portrayed and make an effort that decorations enhance that message instead of distract.
Each of the rooms will call for actors. For example, the last supper could use Pilate or one of the Twelve Apostles.
However, there is to be no actor for Jesus Christ. Also, a scripture/script should be presented by your actors in each room.
Some of the scriptures that pertain to each subject are listed.
Let the Spirit be your guide. Remember things like special lighting (lamps and spots) as well as quiet music. This will add a lot to your setting. You may also use smells to create a special atmosphere. The visitors will come to each room in small groups. Each room should not last more than three minutes.
Walk with Christ Rooms- click on a room name to read more info about the room
Live Nativity – Outside
Scriptures: Luke 1:46-55, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:4-5, 7, 16
Room 15 (Primary Room): The Ministry Room
Décor: Pictures of His Ministry, video(s)
Room No 11&12:The Last Supper Room
Décor: Basin, Towel, Sacrament Tray
Scriptures: Luke 22:1, 14, 17-23, Matthew 26:26-28
Foyer: The Garden of Gethsemane
Décor: Spotlighted pictures, garden setting with large paper mache
stone (stone already made)
Scripture: Matthew 26:14, 15, 36-39, 47, 49
Room No 54 :The Judgment Room (This room did not work well last year but we’ll come up with a different plan later.)
Décor: Robe, Gavel
Scripture: Matthew 27:2, 11-24
Room 51 (Nursery Room): The Garden of Gethsemane
Décor: Hammer, nail, cross, centurion, branch
Scripture: Matthew 27:31, 35-37, 40-43, 45-49, 50-54
Rooms 37 & 38 (YW Rooms): The Tomb/Resurrection Room
Décor: Linens and spice, table with sheet to look like bed linen
folded at head of bed
Scripture: Matthew 27:57-60, Matthew 28:6, Mark 16:1-6
Rooms 27 & 28 (Cub Scout Rooms): The Restoration Room
Décor: Much like a temple Visitor’s Center with pictures and maps.
Use a poster board timeline? Scripture : 3 Nephi – the Coming of
Christ to the Americas, Many more references available