Biblical market will substitute for egg hunt

Published March 31, 2007

SPRING HILL - The Rev. Wes Harris, senior pastor at Spring Hill Calvary Church of the Nazarene, said he was tired of the traditional Easter hunt for hidden eggs.

Children's director Rene Decker said she, too, "wanted to do something other than just throwing things out into the yard and letting the ants stomp on them."

She was seeking an activity that would get the Christian community involved.

Harris suggested offering 12 stations.

Shortly after hearing that, Alicia Thompson, director of volunteer ministries and lay mobilization director, had a dream about a village in Galilee with storekeepers.

"When I woke up the next morning, I started typing it out," Thompson said.

Not knowing what "12 stations" meant, Thompson suggested a marketplace with 12 booths offering various goods, including fruits, vegetables, breads, fish, oils, spices, perfumes and carpentry.

"I believed in the concept and that it would happen," she said.

The result: the church's Biblical Marketplace, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Good Friday.

"It is a great idea," said Brian Howard, the church's associate pastor. "Anytime we've done events like this, it touches hearts. We always have some sort of community outreach event."

Decker has put together a group of about 100 people who are assisting in the marketplace effort.

"I believe the church is passionate about Jesus Christ, and even at an old age they are so excited to come out and be a part of something," she said. "They were hot to go and share this with everyone."

As for attire, Decker said: "We came up with the concept that we would be wrapped in long dresses and ropes around us, and we all (designed) our own costume."

A week before the event, said Thompson, the costumes were almost completed, and everyone knew their lines.

During the event, there will be a boat, shepherds and guides, and each store owner will offer a three-minute talk that includes part of the story of the Gospel. Kids will receive a golden shekel and candy. When they get through the entire marketplace, they can cash in their coins for prizes and candy eggs.

Thompson, whose husband is helping make props, pointed out that all set decorations are on loan from people from the church and the community, including authentic objects from those who have traveled to Israel.

The Biblical Marketplace will be set up in the church parking lot, with tents, gazebos, flags and banners. Children visiting the petting zoo - which will include ducks, chicks, donkeys, chickens, dogs, ponies, goats, and maybe turkeys and geese - must be accompanied by a guide, four shepherds and a husband-and-wife team who will keep them in groups.

Games will include Hebrew hopscotch, picking up stones without falling down, and tossing coins into a bucket.

There also will be an angel, a Roman soldier and the Garden of Gethsemane.

Decker can hardly wait.

"We will have participants from 6 to 90 years old," she said. "I'm excited just talking about it."


Biblical Marketplace

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday

Where: Spring Hill Calvary Church of the Nazarene, 235 Cobblestone Drive, Spring Hill

Information: Call 683-0587