Rev. Mike Dennis, the pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Canton, Ohio, believes this past Easter is one not soon to be forgotten. Pyrotechnics part of the services’ reenactment of Jesus Christ’s resurrection lit the prop meant to be the tomb on fire.
Just as the lead singer, identified as Jonathan White in the video, is narrating how Jesus had risen from the dead — a point at which the light display was turned on — a wire sparked putting everything nearby ablaze. Video taken by someone in the congregation shows church members popping up to help, running across the stage with flaming objects. All the while, neither White, the choir directed by Tim Pitzer, nor the actor playing Jesus missed a beat.
As the words “he is risen” was sung among the burning stage items, many in the congregation clapped.
The whole reenactment managed to continue even with the flames and the extinguishing effort.
Later in the video after the scene is done (although the screen goes blank at 2:30 there is still audio), you can hear the pastor ask “how many of you will never forget this morning?”
“You know the most exciting thing,” he continued, “I think we’re going to get new carpet!”
Watch the whole ordeal:
According to the Canton Rep, Dennis’ son Paul sustained second-degree burns on his hands (he’s the one the ran a flaming prop offstage), but he still managed to play the drums for the service before heading to the medical center for treatment.
The newspaper reported White saying he continued singing as planned in an effort keep everyone calm.
“I’m thinking, ‘Just keep everybody calm, just keep doing what you do,’” White said. “They had it under control pretty quickly. The only thing that worried me was it if got to the curtains. But I was just thinking, ‘Don’t miss a beat. Keep going.’”
The man playing Jesus has a story of his own too. Stuck momentarily in the area that first caught fire, the Canton Rep reported Joe Orihel earned himself the nickname “Chuck Norris Jesus” because, as Dennis said, he “kicked that stone to get out of there.”