Tabernacle Church takes Easter scenes to shopping center parking lot

The first year members of the Tabernacle Church organized a drive-through scenes of Easter, traffic backed up on the Baltimore/Washington Parkway as curious folks drove to the church tucked away off South Laurel Drive to see what it was all about, according to the Rev. Paula Burton.

Two decades later, the church is still creating Easter scenes — with a cast of more than 60 actors and a few live animals — but has moved the location to the front of the Super Grand grocery store in a strip mall on Route 197.

Burton said the more visible location allows the church to take its Easter message to people "who might not have heard about the gospel."

The Easter scenes are scheduled for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, beginning at 8 p.m., and will be held rain or shine.

The Tabernacle's dramatic telling of the Easter story isn't a drive-through this year. Burton said drivers can park in front of the store, at 13600 Laurel Bowie Road (Route 197), and walk through the scenes, which will be displayed in a patch of grass between the parking lot and the busy road.

Actors, a camel and a donkey, and possibly some sheep or goats, will present scenes including Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which is celebrated on Palm Sunday; the Last Supper; Jesus' trial with Pontius Pilate; Peter's betrayal; Jesus carrying the cross and the crucifixion; the empty tomb; and a final scene, with angels, of Jesus' Ascension into heaven.

Burton said the crucifixion scene will be illustrated with a cross and will not show an actor playing Jesus, a decision the church made because of children who might be in the audience.

But Jesus is portrayed in every other scene and, Burton said, the actors are international.

"Jesus will be every color, every race; it's international," Burton said.

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