Broadway is coming to Mann Memorial United Methodist Church – in the form of a series of sermons built around Broadway musicals.
Beginning July 13 and continuing for four weeks, musicians and singers will perform music from Broadway productions. Segments of movies based on the plays will be shown, and The Rev. Bernard Mason will discuss in his sermon the underlying message of each production and apply it to the gospel.
“People often think musicals are light and dippy and frothy, but underneath every one of these there is some truth,” he said. “My whole approach is, truth – all truth – is God’s truth, and it doesn’t have to be said in the church. It’s being said every day in our world, and the musical theater is one of the great places it’s being said.”
The Sound of Music will be featured first, as Mason believes it is probably most popular across the age spectrum. The musical speaks to the nature of family and the nature of faith, he said.
The second Sunday will feature South Pacific.
“This one has such a strong message about our openness to people of all races,” he said. “The underpinnings of South Pacific were set in World War II but it’s also dealing with interracial relationships ….”
West Side Story is the third, with its urban setting and focus on gangs in New York City in the late 1950s, and how it all impacts one couple.
“How we love in the midst of hate,” Mason said.
The fourth, Fiddler on the Roof, has connections to Judaism. The final message will center on The Music Man.
“The Music Man is the story of one man who comes to a community whose intentions are not really founded in goodwill but in his own self,” Mason said. “He discovers in his own life that even his ill intentions get reversed and music comes to the people of River City. They come together in that joy.”
Mason said he has seen similar series in Tupelo, Miss., and Savannah, Ga., but he believes this series is unique to Augusta. It’s an attempt to bring in visitors to the church who may not normally find church worship “their thing.”
“I feel so strongly that we’ve got to get outside the box,” he said.