Churches play a powerful role in our communities. Faith institutions, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and all others - offer spiritual guidance, comfort and care for those in their congregations.
I am a member of the local Methodist church in Carson City. Admittedly I am an irregular church-goer and my wife, Susan, is much more diligent about church attendance. There may be a good story here about church attendance habits of men and women, but today, I want to talk about small groups in the Methodist church.
The Rev. Dixie Jennings-Teats (Rev. Dixie), co-pastor of the Carson City First United Methodist Church, has formed, with others, several small groups - a small group ministry. The small groups cover a variety of compelling interest areas - everything from Disciple Bible Study, Fellowship Study, Couples and Parenting, Faith in the 21st Century, and Autobiographer's Writing Group, plus other topics of interest to our citizens. They form a vital link of a church to its community.
I'm involved in a small group called "Readers' Theater" (much like radio theater of the '30s). It is directed by Rev. Dixie and Dr. Ursula Carlson, WNC professor of English, and explores classical and contemporary plays with ethical and moral themes.
The Reader Theater players include Dr. Carlson, Rev. Dixie, Susan and Gene Paslov, Barbara and Richard Moore, Bob Priest, Mary McGowan, Kathy Garcia, Linda Bellegray, and Liz Skinner (others as needed). We've read a half dozen plays including William Saroyan's "Time of Your Life" and G. B. Shaw's "Heartbreak House." In each case the plays explore contemporary issues of love and hate, family/societal tragedy/comedy/pathos, and greed and corruption.
The first public play-reading of our Readers Theater group was Henrik Ibsen's "John Gabriel Borkman." Readers dressed in black, script placed before them on small, lighted stands. The play's action erupts, alive, the power of the scripted words capturing the imagination of the audience. Two sisters struggle over their love of the same man - John Gabriel Borkman. Borkman himself isolated in an upstairs room after serving years in prison for cheating shareholders. He never takes responsibility. Is intermittently remorseful, but demanding more time for redemption, forgiveness. Never achieved.
We are now rehearsing for the public reading of Anton Chekov's "The Cherry Orchard." The playwright explores changes in Russian society from the landed aristocracy to an emerging serf-mercantile class. It's set within the site of an ancient cherry orchard. The impact of those selling and buying the orchard is profound, soul-searching.
Art is a powerful teacher. It compels us to understand our own and others' humanity.
The Methodist Church leadership deserves kudos for their creative efforts. From the cast and community, thank you.
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools. 쇓