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New version of old story

One Incredible Moment - The Majesty of the Manger is both the title and the recurring theme in this year's Christmas pageant at First United Methodist Church.

After a lot of research, the church's music director, Jack Evans, chose One Incredible Moment because "it is one of Max Lucado's better Christian cantatas, and the music was composed by Tom Fettke, a leading composer of Christian music," he said.

"I liked the music, the message, the narration and story behind it," said Evans. "The Christmas story is all the same, but there are different approaches to it. The dialogue is different, making it a beautifully done rendition of the Christmas story."

The cantata, which will be presented next weekend, will feature song, music, drama and narration. The praise band and bell choir will perform before the program begins.

Evans, a married father of two sons, had been a high school music, band and choral director in Dover, N.J., for 30 years before moving to Jensen Beach, north of Palm Beach. After visiting his brother in Spring Hill, he moved here three years ago. He liked what he saw.

He has been the choir director at First United Methodist since May.

Putting together the cantata involves a lot of people.

Marsha Reiniers, who supervises the cantata's 18-member drama team, said, "It's a great team effort, and some people are always willing to step in and help out."

Reiniers also noted that the sets were created by one of the choir directors who created sets for theater in Massachusetts and "wants everything looking authentic."

"In the Bethlehem street scene, he's fashioned a cart like one that is used to sell goods. There's a new table made of pine wood and a new manger made out of bark. About 10 people are working on the set construction," Reiniers said.

Steve McManaway and his wife, Gail, have been members of the church for about 14 years and they both sing in the choir - soprano and bass. Steve said the choir has grown and added about 20 members during the past year.

"What's unique this year is that most of us have never sang with a live orchestra before and are looking forward to it," McManaway said. "We've always had a synthesizer and keyboard. We've practiced with CDs made for whatever part or voice you have, and it's been easy to learn the music, almost to the point where I can remember all the songs."

Reiniers said the story line in the cantata "is very true to the gospel."

"I think it's a cantata that has almost everything and anything to tell the story well, and the music will portray the scenes as closely as possible," she said. "It's very true to the gospel, and hopefully people will get the Christmas feel of the story, come alive and remember everything they've learned when they were young."

Fast facts

If you go

One Incredible Moment - The Majesty of the Manger, a Christmas cantata, will be presented at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 and 3 p.m. Dec. 10 at First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, 9344 Spring Hill Drive. There is no admission charge; an offering will be taken. For information, call 683-2600.