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New Zealanders of Several Denominations Present 'Women Who Knew Christ' Production

A multi-denominational Easter production titled, “Women Who Knew Christ”  a musical directed by a missionary from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  was recently performed at the Whitianga Town Hall by women from the community.

Richard and Claudene Gordon, senior missionaries with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, extended an invitation to the Whitianga community to participate in the production. 

“We invited all denominations in our community to join us,” said Elder Gordon. "And nearly all have been involved with the production in one way or another."     

Whitianga Easter Production

The play, written by Sister Gordon, involved over 25 participants from seven denominations.

"The program was designed for today's women as they relate to the women who walked with our Saviour," she said. "This was a labour of love for Him and this community. We feel we united church and community."

Several people who enjoyed the performance commented that the first musical number, "Avinu Malkeinu," a song of prayer sung in Hebrew by Nesca Bowlin-Lambert, set the tone for the rest of the program. 

Another favourite of the crowd was the finale “Whakaaria Mai” (How Great Thou Art), sung by Bess Kingi-Edmonds joined by Tina Bartlett.  

“I loved the Maori singing. It was stunning, such beautiful voices,” said one member of the audience.  

The play centred around the experiences of 10 women living during the time Jesus walked the earth. The script was inspired by the New Testament with the writer interpretating the possible feelings each woman may have experienced through her interactions with Jesus Christ. 

“I think these performers really caught the vision of what it must have been like to be there with the Saviour and to have actually met Him,” said Steve Higgins, a Latter-day Saint in the audience. 

“It was very emotional. It was presented from a perspective you would never think of when you read the scriptures and so it was very real, you could feel the Spirit. It was great to see so many people perform from all different faiths and to all feel the same Spirit. It was a wonderful, lovely experience.”

One couple visiting New Zealand from the United States also attended the production. “We’ve been Christians all our lives and we know all the Bible stories but sometimes you know them almost too well,” they said. “You’ve read them so many times that you lose the impact and the power they have. With all the emotion these women brought to their characters you remember these really are incredible stories. You could feel their emotions and how the Lord impacted each one of them and the fact that they were honoured by our Lord.“

One cast member said, “My favourite part is that all these women who performed in the play came together with a common cause of loving the Saviour. We all come from different religions and we all love the Saviour. We love the Lord and here today you just really felt it. Everybody wanted to share their love of Jesus.”

Bringing the faith community together while showing the Saviour's great love and compassion to women was important to the Gordons before their mission ends in June. 

“I feel such joy seeing these diverse women become sisters and friends with a shared love for Christ,” Sister Gordon said. “We wanted it to be a gift to this community and to the people we have grown to love."

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