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St. Philip's youths present annual musical April 14

As the Easter story, music and message become less prominent in the church services, another tradition is ready to be presented at St. Philip's Lutheran Church, 1401 W. 15th St.

The youth of the church will present the musical, "What's Up Jesus? Walkin' with the Lord," in the 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services Sunday, April 14. All are open to the community.

Ellen Diischer, director of music ministry has been directing church musicals for years - this is the 18th one at St. Philip's.

"I believe strongly in using song, acting, and dancing to present the Gospel to children," said Diischer. "They are natural actors, they like stories, they like to tell stories, and their actions do influence their spiritual growth."

The co-director is Heidi Nelson.

The 30 participants this year are from 7 to 13 years of age. Several are from outside the church and wanted to be involved. There are no auditions. Diischer and Nelson "match" the children to role. Many just blossom into the parts.

"We also stress the importance of being in an ensemble, we need the concentration of the team," said Diischer. "As such, there are 'no stars.'"

The energy level is high, as is the creativity, Diischer noted.

"We encourage that," she said. "We tell them you can't do this alone."

God gave each one their lives with "special gifts and talents," said Diischer. "You can't believe the impact on the audience - it is stunning. You can hear the most beautiful singing of the kids."

When Diischer selects each year's musical, she has several major criteria - it has to be Biblically-based and the musical quality must be good.

Several musicals has been repeated through the years.

This year, "What's up Jesus Walkin' With the Lord," has stories of ordinary people who meet Jesus and their lives are strongly impacted by that meeting.

"There's humor, slapstick and a strong message," said Diischer. The message being that Jesus loves everyone. Any day can be special with Jesus; there's always something new."

This year's costumes and props are being kept to minimum due to the construction at the church. As in the last several years, a church member has made a generous donation of providing decorated T-shirts for the entire group of performers.