After the success of First Baptist Church of Augusta's C.S. Lewis Festival in 2003, the Rev. Rodger Murchison was in a rush to stage another one.
"I wanted to do it again in 2005," said Dr. Murchison, the associate pastor. He was urged to wait, and he's glad he did.
He has had the opportunity to travel to England for a Lewis festival, and the blockbuster Disney movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was released last year.
"The first one (festival) was a bit of a challenge," Dr. Murchison said, adding that this time is different.
"I won't have to convince people to be involved," he said.
More than 8,000 people attended the festival in March 2003. This year's monthlong festival kicked off Sunday with a performance by the Augusta Dance Theatre. The dance company has an annual ballet based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and its members performed excerpts from the ballet Sunday.
The ballet was featured as the last event of the 2003 festival, and it attracted more than 900 people, he said.
"We had saved the best for last," the associate pastor said.
This year, he told festival organizers, "Why don't we lead with it?"
The C.S. Lewis Festival is sponsored by First Baptist, The Church of the Good Shepherd and Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church.
On Sunday, Dr. Greg DeLoach, of First Baptist; the Rev. Robert D. Fain, of the Church of the Good Shepherd; and Dr. Jan Blissit, of Reid Memorial, will exchange pulpits and preach on issues related to Lewis.
At 6 p.m. each Sunday in March, there is a special event at First Baptist.
Actor Tom Key will present his one-man play, C.S. Lewis on Stage, this Sunday. Mr. Key is known for his award-winning performances in the musical Cotton Patch Gospel.
"He's a first-rate actor," Dr. Murchison said.
On March 19, Dr. Jerry Root, a professor of Christian education at Wheaton College, will speak about love and longing. On March 26, Dr. Don King, a professor at Montreat College in North Carolina, and local storyteller Rosie Messer will talk about good and evil in The Chronicles of Narnia.
At 6 p.m. Wednesdays, there will be studies of Lewis' works at First Baptist as part of the festival.
On March 15, Dr. Murchison will speak on God in the Dock; on March 22, Dr. Jerry Howington will speak on The Great Divorce, and on March 29, Jane Howington will speak on The Problem of Pain.
Though many of the activities are geared toward adults, A Journey Through Narnia, an interactive display of places in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and in two other Narnia books, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 11 and 25, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday in March.
Dr. Murchison said his first vision of the festival focused on the intellectual side of Lewis; however, church member Debbie Williams persuaded him to add events that would appeal to children.
Ms. Williams designed and built many of the sets used in the first festival. This time, she has added pieces from various books.
"It helps children visualize the things the children may have read," Dr. Murchison said.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at email@example.com.
Actor Tom Key will present his one-man play C.S. Lewis on Stage, at 6 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way. The play is part of the monthlong C.S. Lewis Festival. Tours of the Land of Narnia for children are available by appointment by calling 731-5366.
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