By Chris Yow
CLAY — When Josh McDaniel came to North Clay Baptist Church in 2008, one of the things he wanted to improve upon were community missions. The annual festival held by the church was similar to others in the area, but McDaniel wanted to know what the goal was for the festival and whether or not the church was succeeding in that goal.
“I didn’t think we were seeing as much success as we could, so I began working to see what we could do,” McDaniel said.
He looked into how other area churches were treating the Halloween holiday, and found an idea he liked. McDaniel noticed a number of walk-through drama “Judgement House” productions, but that wasn’t the direction he wanted to take his church.
“I wanted something that was church and family-friendly,” he said.
From there, he began to search locally and nationally to see if any other churches were celebrating the restoration period and the story of Martin Luther nailing up his 95 Theses. Shocking to him, he couldn’t find a single church doing anything to celebrate restoration day.
“The story is well-known among the church,” McDaniel said. “But it isn’t well-celebrated. Even some people in our church didn’t know the significance of October 31.”
It is widely believed that on Oct. 31, 1517, German friar and theology teacher Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the All-Saints’ Church of Wittenberg, making it the catalyst for the protestant reformation.
Although he tried other avenues, what McDaniel eventually decided was to create a walk-through drama and tell the story of that event.
“One year, we watched a movie called ‘Luther’, and it’s a great film, but it’s not something that would draw in kids or teenagers to hear the gospel,” McDaniel said.
During the drama, the story is told with dialogue and even humor, although it wasn’t always as entertaining.
“The first year we did it, I wrote the script and it wasn’t very good,” McDaniel said. “But I went back and re-wrote it to make it more conversational.”
The response has been overwhelming, and the church will now put on the event for its fifth year.
“We’re either on the cutting edge of something really cool, or we’re insane,” McDaniel said laughingly. “I like to believe we’re on the cutting edge.”
The event takes place on Oct. 31 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in order to allow church groups to attend and be able to also attend fall festivals.
“We don’t have a festival on Saturday because we’re not trying to compete with other churches and what they’re doing,” he said.
On Sunday, Nov. 1, however the church will host the event again from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. with a festival of its own once groups have gone through the drama.
“I think we’re the only church around who is doing something on that Sunday,” McDaniel said. “Hopefully church groups will come out and see what we’re doing.”
There will be inflatables, games and rides on Sunday.
McDaniel added the show is family-friendly, and will not be a problem to bring all ages through the walk. Groups are encouraged to call the church and schedule a time to walk, but walk ups are welcome. The drama takes about 30 minutes to complete.
“We really want to reach the churches and remind them of the reformation and how important October 31 really is,” McDaniel said.
Martin Luther 1517 “The Halloween that Changed the World” from Redemption Road on Vimeo.