Penn’s drama ministry brings
‘word of God into living perspective’
By Tammy Moseley
Published in The Thomaston Times,
When evangelist Dwain Penn of Thomaston prepares for his sermon, he does so in a manner contrary to tradition. He rehearses his spiritual address just as his colleagues – but Penn rehearses in costume. Penn describes himself as a “drama minister.”Penn began the drama ministry in 1988 to use “theatrics to bring the word of God into living perspective.” He depicts three men in the Bible – Abraham, Paul and Jesus – using make-up, props, costumes and lighting.
The props and costumes are designed by Penn, and he applies the theatrical make-up “I’d like to say I spent hours and hours on historical research,” Penn said, “But I didn’t. They (costumes and props) are just a creation from my mind. Some of the costumes are made from synthetic material, and polyester didn’t even exist in those times.” Penn attributes the founding of the ministry to his personality.
“When I was going to (high) school, I was very extroverted,” Penn said, “I always wanted to be the center of attention. I was the class clown. That’s hard to admit publicly because you don’t expect that from the ministry. Several of my teachers told me I should be an actor.
“I really did want to do something for God. I felt the need to promote the Gospel in a unique way. The spirit of God told me to commit parts of the Bible to memory.”
“The combination of the wealth of information my friend was sharing with me and the scriptures that I had in memory became a fertile environment for the birth of the drama ministry,” Penn said.
After Penn performed the first drama of the Apostle Paul, he said he realized the ministry would be successful. Penn said he believed other dramas should complement the first, a thought which led him to create the Abraham and Jesus dramas.
Penn has performed the dramas – which last from 45 minutes to one hour – at about 30 churches of seven denominations in six states. Finances for the dramas are obtained through offerings. Penn said he doesn’t ask to be paid for the performances; instead, he asks for gas money.
Audiences have responded well, Penn said. He said this “fresh air evangelism” allows the congregation not only to hear, but also to see the passages of the Bible. He said aside from positive comments, the only feedback he receives is suggestions for improvement in the dramas.
“Very moving,” said Joyce Gerecke, of Thomaston, of the ‘Paul’ drama, “It makes you aware of Paul’s sacrifice for Jesus.”