If you were one of the visitors joining “A Journey to the Cross and Beyond,” an Easter commemoration at Campion Adventist Academy, you were likely stopped by Rodney Kelly, a horse centurion sporting an impressive Roman soldier’s garb and riding atop Smokey, his handsome horse. “Have you paid your taxes?” he asked. “Taxes are due on April 15,” I replied. “These are Roman taxes,” he sternly insisted. After responding that I already paid my tithe, he commanded me to “carry on” to Jerusalem.
Rodney was one of 65 re-enactors of a first-century interactive makeshift marketplace erected at Campion Academy, April 4-5, focused on “bringing Jerusalem to Loveland,” according to Dick Stenbakken, a member of the Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church whose concept attracted nearly 900 visitors. “I am elated,” he said. “We had no idea what to expect. We planned for the first group to go through our marketplace at 3 o’clock on Sabbath afternoon and were overwhelmed by a crowd of 160 people.”
As a community event, visitors were encouraged to participate in a practical expression of love, which for many is the significance of Easter. The organizers invited visitors to make a contribution to the food pantry of the local community. After passing by the empty tomb, and before moving to the final stop of the experience in the multipurpose room of the church with refreshments and a display of first-century Roman artifacts and armor, visitors were pointed to a screen depicting a painting of the Second Coming of Jesus by Nathan Green. Assisting in the moment was Ardis Stenbakken, who approached visitors and simply asked, “Do you see yourself in this picture?”
A notable aspect of the event was the obvious engagement and cooperation of the Seventh-day Adventist community in the area. Hosted by the Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church, it brought five other churches into the organizing group. They included the Loveland Church, the Eden Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loveland, the Greeley Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Adventure Seventh-day Adventist Church in Windsor, and the Fort Collins Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are already looking forward to next year!