POMEROY — The legacy of Pastor James Acree lives on move than a year after his passing, with the return of the Noah and the Ark live drama the next three weeks at Hillside Baptist Church on State Route 143.
Pastor Acree, who passed away in June 2020, founded the church in the late 1980s and in 1998 began the outdoor drama at the ark behind the church. The original ark was torn down in the mid 2000s, with the current ark having opened in 2008. Each year, the church presents the live outdoor drama “Noah and the Ark” free to the public, with the church and Power in the Blood Ministry working together to put on the performances.
Now, Joe Humphrey Sr. — Pastor Acree’s son-in-law — serves as pastor of the church.
Humphrey explained that before he passed away, Pastor Acree had asked him and his wife Jamie (Acree’s daughter) to make sure to continue the Noah and the Ark performances.
While COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the performances in 2020, Jamie and Joe both explained that they are happy to bring the performances back in 2021 and that Acree would be excited to see the tradition continue.
Since the last performances, extensive renovations have taken place on the ark and the surrounding area.
Flooring, the stairwell and roof supports have undergone repairs inside the ark, the fencing area for the animals has been adjusted to allow for better crowd interaction during the performance, new lighting and poles have been put in place and a foot bridge has been replaced, among other changes.
Performances tell the biblical story on Noah and his family, which is not the children’s story that many are used to hearing as they grow up.
During the drama, Noah and his family are confronted by members of their own families, villagers and other “evil” figures who do not believe in Noah’s God or that the flood will come and destroy the Earth.
With each visitor, Noah and his family tell of their faith in God and how, if they believe, they too can live through the flood inside the ark with Noah and his family. In the end, each rejects Noah’s message and perishes in the flood as do all other living creatures on the Earth.
With sound and lighting effects, and a video, the rains come after Noah, his family and all of the animals are secured in the ark.
Each performance concludes with a message of salvation, inviting those in attendance to also “believe and live” as Noah invited those who confronted him during the performance.
At the end, the cross and tomb on the hill behind the crowd is illuminated and an actor portraying Jesus at the resurrection emerges from the tomb.
This year performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 1, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 at the ark, located at 39760 State Route 143, Pomeroy.
As in past years, admission to the performances are free. Concessions will be available and a love offering will be taken during the event. Those attending are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Handicap parking is available. Large groups are welcome.
Videos and performances from past years may be seen on the church Facebook page and website.
For more information visit hillsidebaptistchurch.net, Hillside Baptist Church on Facebook or call 740-742-5007.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.