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USA Today shines spotlight on church’s Christmas pageant

DALLAS (BP)–Noting “cast and crew truly believe God has a hand in every song sun, every line said,” USA Today featured the Christmas pageant of Dallas’ Prestonwood Baptist Church on page 3 of its front section Dec. 17.
Prestonwood is one of numerous Southern Baptist churches to offer their communities special Christmastime events aimed at leading people to faith in Christ.
Prestonwood’s “Two From Galilee” drew an estimated 30,000 people over its six-day, nine-performance run, which ended Dec. 17. It marked the 15th year for a Christmas pageant at the north Dallas church.
USA Today noted: “On a scale twice the size of the average Broadway production, Prestonwood’s three-hour holiday extravaganza is among the nation’s most elaborate church Christmas pageants. … Busloads come from all across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas; the $10-$13 seats are sold out for virtually every performance.”
Among facets of the production cited by USA Today:
— an 850-person cast and crew, including a 75-piece orchestra, three camels, an elephant and other animals, performing on a 13,000-square-foot stage — twice the size of a Broadway venue or about one-fourth a football field.
— lighting equipment alone requiring four and a half tractor-trailer rigs to cart in.
— a $250,000 budget supported entirely by ticket sales and volunteer work.
— auditions last August by more than 150 people for the pageant’s eight principal roles.
The USA Today article even acknowledged the miraculous, quoting church staff member and pageant technical director Jeff Brockelman as saying, “I’m not surprised when (God) does amazing things” through the pageant.
The newspaper told of Jeff Dant bringing his son, Ryan, to the pageant; the 9-year-old has a rare genetic disease that researchers are battling to cure before it takes the boy’s life in a few years.
“When the Dants saw last year’s pageant,” the newspaper recounted, “Ryan was greatly comforted by the vision of angels in heaven,” including a scene in which three angels soar 40 feet above the stage. “The boy couldn’t wait to see the angels again this year,” the newspaper account continued. “But because the family waited too long, seven good seats together were unavailable. Jeff Dant, a police lieutenant in nearby Carrollton, had just turned away from the ticket counter in disappointment when a cancellation occurred: Seven tickets, front and center. Ryan’s ‘face just lit up when he saw those angels and heard the glorious music,’ Dant says. ‘He’s not so scared anymore.'”
USA Today quoted Paul Weaver, a 38-year-old Dallas lawyer and former actor of 10 years who plays the angel Gabriel, as saying of the production and the hard work beforehand, sometimes involving 13-hour days, “It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done.”