RICHFIELD , UTAH – For 16 years Christians in this small, central Utah community have gathered each year to share time, talents and testimony in a community celebration of the Easter story.
It’s called the Convenio – an appropriate term meaning “coming together,” which is precisely what the annual gathering has always been intended to do.
“The purpose of the Convenio is to bring together the love felt throughout our community for Jesus Christ,” said Sunnie Thompson, who is the heart and soul of the community Easter musical celebration. “We don’t think in terms of ‘who belongs to which church.’ That doesn’t matter. What matters is Christ is our Savior, and in that we are one.”
This year’s Convenio will be presented free of charge on Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Richfield LDS Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is located at 23 S. 200 West in Richfield.
In its earliest days the Convenio was produced by Thompson, a Latter-day Saint, and Pastor James Knowler, an energetic and gifted Baptist minister whose “influence is still felt in the energy and passion of our music,” Thompson said. Through the years participants have come from every Christian faith tradition in the area: Assembly of God, Baptist, Catholic, LDS, Episcopalian, Lutheran and Presbyterian – plus a few that nobody was exactly sure where they came from.
“This isn’t about differences,” Thompson said. “It’s about what we share.”
The first Convenios were two-day affairs, with a Friday evening presentation about Christ’s journey to the cross on a small stage in the Richfield City Cemetery, and then a Sunday sunrise celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. That has evolved into an Easter night production featuring music from different faith traditions, as well as narration and scripture readings, all focused on the Easter story.
“It’s been a great experience through the years, and I really think it has made a difference in our community in terms of bringing us together,” Thompson said. “I remember one rehearsal at the Tabernacle, when we asked one of the participants to say an opening prayer for us. She stood and paused and then said, ‘I’ll bet this doesn’t happen a lot: a Presbyterian saying an opening prayer in a Mormon tabernacle. But I think this is a really good thing.”
“The thing is,” Thompson continued, “it DOES happen a lot during Convenio. This is who we are, and what we do. We come together, bound by shared belief and love for Jesus Christ.”