Tomb of Jesus Bursts Into Flames During Play
By Roc Woodrum
CANTON, Ohio — To dramatize the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, the First Church of the Nazarene in Canton decided to re-enact Jesus rising from the dead and opening the door to his tomb.
“At a dramatic moment, the stone was to have, like, sparks going around the stone, as if to say Christ was coming back to life at that moment,” said Pastor Mike Dennis.
But those special effects created more drama than anyone expected.
“The sparkling effect that was supposed to go around the stone, I knew that was supposed to happen, but then when the flames started, I knew that wasn’t supposed to happen,” said Sharon Witts, a parishioner who videotaped the event.
Upon realizing what was happening, Paul Dennis, the church’s youth pastor, ran up on the stage and grabbed a part of the tomb that was engulfed in flames.
“Our youth pastor was burned trying to carry out part of the burning set. He did receive second degree burns on his hand, and he was taken immediately to Mercy Hospital. He was treated and released that afternoon,” said Dennis.
“He was trying to keep the church safe and everybody else safe. That’s just how he reacted, and that is how Paul is,” said Witts.
The soloist Johnathan White didn’t skip a beat; throughout the entire ordeal he kept his presence and just kept singing.
“That was amazing, I couldn’t believe how he didn’t even miss a note. The show must go on, so he just kept singing,” said Witts.
“There was a burn on the carpet and some smoke damage. I have through the years, every church I pastored I have prayed God just set our church on fire. I just didn’t mean this way,” said Dennis.