Last October, Greg Kornmueller began planning for the holidays.
Not the Christmas holidays, the Easter holidays.
Kornmueller is the director of "The Victor Passion Play," a dramatic presentation of the last week in the life of Jesus that has the signature of the Salt Lake Christian Center.
"Last year 3,500 people came to see the play," says Kornmueller. "This year we're expanding to 10 performances. Where everybody is a volunteer, it's difficult to schedule more than that."
What Kornmueller likes about the play is that it puts into live action the things that are preached across the pulpit every Sunday: the redeeming mission of Jesus Christ. And the Christian Center pulls few punches. The villains look villainous, the animals are live and the Crucifixion scene stays with people for months. It is a musical production, with a choir, special effects and a cast of 150.
"We've tried to be as accurate with the Crucifixion as we could," says Kornmueller. "It is very authentic and very graphic. Still, our our best make-up job is not even close to what really happened to Jesus."
Kornmueller's favorite subplot is the story of Peter. "Like Peter," he says, "we've all failed Jesus. But we all get to be forgiven."
In May, the Salt Lake Christian Center itself will celebrate its 80th anniversary in the community. Located at 4300 South on 700 East, the center, associated with the Assembly of God Churches, offers a variety of activities for local Christians. The center has a "Crossfire" ministry for teens, the Royal Rangers and Missionettes for boys and girls, and men's and women's ministry, as well as adult and youth choirs, a "worship band" and several programs targeted at believers with special concerns.
The pastor is the Rev. Arvin Haynes, who, along with his wife, Cathy, are champions of the annual play. It serves as a valuable outreach for the ministry itself. It is a means to an end.
"If you're looking for a church home, let me encourage you to experience the love of the Lord at a Salt Lake Christian Center worship service," the Rev. Haynes wrote in last year's printed program.
Many local businesses — from candle stores to the Christian Yellow Pages — support the production with money and goods. And by last Thursday, the extensive set was just about ready.
"Last October we had a vision of where we wanted to go," says Kornmueller. "Now, we're almost there."
Tickets to the performances are free to the public. And though the Christian Center is spacious, those wishing to attend should get their tickets beforehand. The best way is to order them online from the center's Web site at www.slchristiancenter.org.
Child care is provided. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
This year, performances will be on April 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. Matinees are scheduled for 3 p.m. on April 7, 8, 14 and 15. For more information, call 265-2629.