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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...



Connections: John Worre

Producing The Gospel According to Scrooge

For 28 years, John and Patti Worre have been producing The Gospel According to Scrooge. The Broadway-style musical stage production includes a dozen original songs and is an evangelistically oriented version of the classic Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol. Nearly 600 churches — the largest share of them Assemblies of God congregations — have performed the two-hour musical drama, typically five times in December. This year, a record number of more than 80 congregations are participating. Counting televised airings, an estimated 15 million people have seen the play. John Worre, 68, recently spoke to Evangel News Editor John W. Kennedy from his Golden Valley, Minn., home.

evangel: How did this ministry start?
WORRE:
I was associate pastor at Jesus People Church in downtown Minneapolis. Tom Elie [now an ordained Assemblies of God evangelist who heads Oasis World Ministries] was the wonderful music pastor. There had been a movie called Scrooge with Albert Finney, and we thought it could be great to adapt the story for evangelism at Christmas.

Initially we just altered the lyrics a bit, and we had almost no sets or props. But people just went bananas over it. The next year we moved to a theater and had to turn people away every performance. We couldn’t get the rights to the songs, so Tom and I sat down, and the Lord inspired 12 original musical numbers.

By 1982, we had 40,000 people come to 13 performances. TBN has aired that year’s version every Christmas since. In 1983, Assemblies of God churches started putting it on.

evangel: How does your musical drama differ from the Dickens work?
WORRE: In the church environment it’s been adapted a thousand different ways. We’re flexible. When a church comes up with good ideas, we share them. We melded the two characters — the nephew and the employee — into one. So now Bob Cratchit is the good Christian nephew trying to get through to his uncle and boss, Ebenezer. Tiny Tim gets touched by the Lord on Christmas Eve, and his leg is healed on Christmas morning.

evangel: How else is the play explicitly Christian?
WORRE: Bob Cratchit is clearly a believer. We show how he tells his uncle about the goodness of God. In a scene with young Scrooge and his fiancée, she leaves him because of his focus on money. When Scrooge looks at himself in the grave he is confronted with the reality of how everybody cared for him, and he has a heavy-duty conversion. He declares, “Lord, this time I’ll serve You.”

evangel: How do you help churches with the show?
WORRE:
We provide a production manual describing how to put the play on, including information about props, costumes and characters. We have CDs and DVDs for rehearsals. We have professional performance tracks or sheet music orchestrations for large churches.

evangel: Why are so many AG churches involved?
WORRE:
It reflects Assemblies of God doctrine well. There are altar calls at these performances. The play attracts people who never would go to church otherwise. Overall, churches have documented more than 600,000 professions of Christ to us.

evangel: In some communities is an annual performance expected?
WORRE:
It’s become a tradition, and many churches perform it year after year. Lots of others will do it every other year. Faith Assembly of God in North Fort Myers, Fla., is on its 21st consecutive year, and First Assembly of God in Ocala, Fla., is doing it for the 24th time this Christmas.

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