Send in the clowns

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Clowning around in church used to be frowned upon – and punishable by mom or dad as soon as services were over.

Things have changed.

The clowns were in full force Sunday at the Lutheran Church of the Galilean. Not only did Pastor Ronald Unger approve, this was the fourth time that he hosted the colorful guests.

The “Holy Madness Clown Troupe” visited the church to impart their unique, but very reverent, way of leading traditional parts of the Christian worship. Nine clowns of different sizes and colorful outfits entertained as they portrayed various life situations.

As the service began, Pastor Unger explained to the congregation that the clowns would not speak, but deliver their messages through actions (skits).

“No words are greater than the Lord’s,” he said.

The first scenario told the story of a thief stealing a woman’s purse. When caught by the police, he tried to bribe them with the money that was inside. He was put in a makeshift jail cell to ponder his fate.

Other clowns huddled in a group, wondering what to do with this man-gone-bad. They tried various keys in their possession to unlock his cell door. They finally found one that reflected ‘forgiveness’ and set him free.

Bob and Joyce Irvin, members of the church, formed the clown troupe when they moved to LaPlace four years ago. Other church members taking part in Sunday’s service were Carl and Sharon Hilt.

“I believe this appearance benefits the young and old alike,” said Carl Hilt (alias Dusty the Clown). It is light-hearted, but serious.”

Kay Turner was visiting the church and felt the service by the clowns was very appropriate. “A clown is a servant in a way, and what better place than the church?”

Colleen Gray and daughter, Toni, 12 enjoyed the performance. They knew beforehand that the troupe was scheduled but didn’t know what to expect. “I thought this would be cool,” said Toni.

Christine Ragas and husband, John, also were in attendance. The Independence couple was married in Lutheran Church of the Galilean eight years ago and are very happy to be members. “Our church is very open to new ideas,” said Christine. “Today’s service was fabulous.”

A potluck dinner followed the service and everyone had the chance to get to know the clowns better.