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Iowa Churches Forgo Passion Play, Join for ‘Seven Last Words’ Worship on Good Friday

Iowa Churches Forgo Passion Play
Ben Wiersma, preaching intern at Sibley (Iowa) CRC, was one of several local pastors to share in a Good Friday service at First Presbyterian Church in Sibley.

The Osceola County Ministerial Association in Sibley, Iowa, typically works together to stage a Passion play—an enactment of the suffering and crucifixion of Christ—each Good Friday. The N’West Iowa Review noted that while it was canceled again this year, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, “an earlier tradition, the sharing of the ‘Christ’s Seven Last Words from the Cross,’” was picked up instead. The Review said it was thought “a ‘Seven Words’ service would be more COVID safe than gathering a huge cast and audience in one space.”

Ben Wiersma, preaching intern at Sibley (Iowa) Christian Reformed church, participated in the service. He spoke on the passage of Matt. 25:45-49: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

“Everything seemed to flow together really well, and the messages were all well done,” Wiersma said. “I was glad to be a part of the service, but hopefully the Passion play will return next year.”

Wiersma started at Sibley CRC as a pastoral intern in January. He said he joined the ministerial association that same month. He is licenced to exhort in Classis Heartland (a regional group of CRC congregations) and is working toward candidacy in the CRC.

“As the decision was made to postpone the Passion play this year, Pastor Terry Simms (First Presbyterian Church, Sibley) brought this idea to the Ministerial Association. I was eager to volunteer to be a part of it because I thought it was a great idea and I am trying to build relationships with the greater community in Sibley,” Wiersma said.

The service was hosted at First Presbyterian Church in Sibley and was streamed on YouTube. Wiersma said about 120 people attended in person.

“This is my first time participating in a community event like this,” Wiersma said. He said he looked forward to “being a part of the extended worship service.”

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