GREENFIELD — Michelle Brown saw Jesus being beaten and heard the loud thunder at his crucifixion, followed by stunned silence broken only by a Roman soldier saying, “Surely this was the son of God.”

As she and her children toured the Journey to Easter walkthrough a year ago, “I was taken aback by how immersive it was,” she said. “It left me in complete awe.”

Last year, Bethel Baptist Church launched the walkthrough on the two days leading up to Easter. All the reservation time slots filled rapidly; the 800 free tickets were all reserved more than a week before the 2023 event. Other people just showed up, hoping to see the live dramatic portrayals of Jesus’ last days on earth, his death by crucifixion, and his resurrection. According to the church, during the two days of the walkthrough 58 people made personal commitments to follow Jesus.

So this year, Brown will be at Journey to Easter again, but this time she’ll be part of the cast. She’ll be among the crowd of first-century onlookers seeing events unfold.

“I knew it was definitely something I wanted to be part of … just being part of that impact on people who come through,” she said.

The church organized last year’s event after Bethel pastor Tommy Hensley saw a Christmas walkthrough at a friend’s church and talked with people of the congregation about developing a similar event for Easter.

They did — they wrote a script, sewed costumes, built sets and staged a series of scenes, separated by black curtains, in the church’s activity building. The scenes were brought to life by a cast of more than 70, including five Jesuses and several Mary Magdalenes. The latter were tour guides leading groups through the scenes.

“It was far beyond our expectations,” coordinator Tia Wise said. “It went great. Even to this day, we still get comments from people that came through it or were in it, just talking about how impactful it was…

“At the end of it we said, ‘We have to do this next year.’”

This year’s event will bring back the scene walkthrough, with a few modifications. More time slots have been added, allowing up to 900 people to tour the series of scenes. A group of up to 16 is scheduled to start the tour every 20 minutes. Time slots should be reserved at (There’s also a place on the site to reserve a spot in tours conducted in American Sign Language or Spanish.)

Easter comes earlier in the calendar this year, in March instead of April. Last year the final scene was outdoors; this year they will all be inside. The Welcome Tent, the starting point of the tour, will be heated and offer warm beverages and light refreshments. A heated restroom trailer with multiple stalls will also be available this year.

While last year’s series of scenes jumped from Jesus’ death to the resurrected Jesus seated around the fire outside with his disciples, this year’s event includes an empty tomb scene.

Brown said her older children, who ranged from 5 to 11 when they toured the walkthrough last year, still talk about what they saw and relate it to the accounts in the Bible.

“They have so many questions: ‘I didn’t realize Jesus actually felt pain,’” she said. “They were able to take in so much more of it.”


Cost: Free

Dates: March 29-30

Times: Showtimes are 1-8 p.m. March 29 and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. March 30; each tour takes about an hour

Where: Bethel Baptist Church, 1610 S. State St., Greenfield; go to the heated Welcome Tent

Reserve a time: (There’s also a place on the site to reserve a tour conducted in American Sign Language or Spanish.)