Passion, a vivid portrayal of Jesus' final hours before His crucifixion, unfolded at the historic Shiloh Church on Sabbath, March 23, 2024, drawing over a thousand people from across the city of Chicago.

April 4, 2024

Chicago Church Attracts Hundreds With ‘Passion of Christ’ Event

Passion, a vivid portrayal of Jesus' final hours before His crucifixion, unfolded at the historic Shiloh Church on Sabbath, March 23, 2024, drawing over a thousand people from across the city of Chicago.

The event, a partnership between the city and the church, attracted families—many of them with young children.  

“Seeing all this come together through Children’s ministries reminds us all that reaching children means reaching families,” said Pamela Wright Daly, Children’s Ministry leader for Shiloh Church and one of the main organizers. 

Pastor John T. Boston further explained that in the urban context, one of the most meaningful church growth efforts is in ministry for children. “[This event] represents a radical effort to reach young hearts and we are able to see how that brings along the whole family unit. History shows us that schools and children ministries are the engine room of harvest impact.” 

In attendance was North American Division’s Children’s Ministry Director Sherri Uhrig, who agreed with Daley and Boston. “This effort is where the church is going to grow because they are doing things for families,” she said. 

There are already indications that the multi-sensory experience which invited participants to encounter Jesus Christ has achieved the desired results: 203 people asked for special prayer,193 asked for Bible study and 11 are scheduled for baptism. The church is following up with each person and inviting them to ongoing ministry connections such as Sabbath School, also called Saturday Morning Kids Camp. 

What Happened: The church and school premises were transformed into immersive story stations, each capturing pivotal moments in Jesus' journey to Calvary. From the bustling marketplace to the solemn Garden of Gethsemane, attendees embarked on a journey of faith, doubt, and redemption. Against the backdrop of Jerusalem's bustling streets, the drama unfolded, inviting reflection on timeless themes of love, sacrifice, and the search for meaning. 

The Marketplace, a bustling hub of activity within the school hall, offered more than just a setting; it served as a metaphor for life's complexities. Amidst the chaos, faith, morality, and human nature took center stage, weaving a tapestry of human experience against the vibrant backdrop of an ancient city's marketplace. 

The poignant reenactment of the Last Supper, set in an upper room, captured the emotional depth of Jesus' final moments with His disciples. Tensions ran high as Jesus revealed the impending betrayal and instituted communion, symbolizing His imminent sacrifice. Through raw emotions and heartfelt conversations, attendees witnessed the disciples' unwavering devotion amidst uncertainty. 

In the solemn setting of the Garden of Gethsemane, against the backdrop of ancient olive trees, the audience was immersed in Jesus' intimate struggles on the eve of His crucifixion. Through heartfelt prayers and dramatic confrontations, the play delved into the depths of human emotion and the ultimate test of faith. 

Attendees also had the opportunity to reflect on their experiences over a healthy vegetarian meal, fostering moments of introspection and renewal. The event culminated in a dramatic street procession, where attendees met Jesus on a donkey, heralded as the Messiah, before entering the sanctuary for a moving portrayal of the crucifixion and resurrection. 

What they’re saying: Many of the attendees were able to experience the gospel of Jesus for the very first time. When one church member playing the role of Pontius Pilate asked the crowd if they wanted Jesus or Barabbas, the crowd yelled, “Give us Jesus!” instead of echoing the actors’ prompts to release Barabbas, in line with the gospel account. Those in attendance who were unfamiliar with the story were moved to tears to know what the Savior endured for our transgression. When the appeal was made, droves of people flocked to the stage to give their lives to Jesus. 

One visitor who resides four blocks from the church and has lived in the South Side of Chicago her entire life said she never experienced anything like this. “Thank you to Shiloh for putting this on for our community. I can really sense the presence of God here. I’ve never been to this church before, but they won’t get rid of me after this.”  

Meanwhile, Stacey Coleman, who is not a member but volunteered with her children to help with the props and costumes said, “I have never witnessed this type of excitement around the gospel and to see it in this part of the city was an added blessing.”  

William Hall, 6th Ward Alderman, acknowledged the church’s efforts in creating an atmosphere where people were happy and excited. “I’m thankful for Shiloh and Pastor Boston and the whole team for deciding that the South Side could be a place where they felt comfortable hosting something amazing like this. This is a Jesus move all day. Come on—a camel off of 71st!”  

Andrew Mpita and Anna Mpita are Seminary Interns at Shiloh for Ministry and Mental Health