Keeping the Tradition Alive


COULTERVILLE -- Twenty years ago, Elizabeth Montgomery helped prepare outfits and provided supplies for the first live presentation of the Last Supper at Coulterville United Methodist Church.

Through the years, she continued to help with the event, as it grew in scale and became a traveling display shared with neighboring communities. She also took on other roles in the church, serving on countless committees and teaching Sunday school.
When she recently had to move from her family farm near Coulterville to The Manor at Mason Woods in Pinckneyville, one piece of her commitment to her faith couldn't make the move. Her handcrafted 64-inch by 38-inch crocheted depiction of The Last Supper was donated to the church, where it hangs in the sanctuary.
This year, with the live last supper presentation celebrating its 20th anniversary, the church leadership has chosen to use the occasion to recognize Montgomery and her commitment to the faith.
"(Tom Harvey, chairman of the administrative board) came up with this idea to dedicate it to her because she's been a longtime, very active member of the church and this is the ultimate gift she's given," said Madelyn Hill, Montgomery's daughter, in regard to the crochet artwork.
While Montgomery said she was humbled and surprised by the decision, she also made sure to recognize the others who have helped keep The Last Supper a living tradition at the church.
When it began in 1991, no one expected it to take off as much as it did, and no one especially envisioned it lasting 20 years. Challenges are still abound, though, as it's becoming harder to find men who are willing to participate.
"People have to have a lot of faith to help present a portrayal of the last supper," said Montgomery, who has belonged to her church for more than 70 years. "You have to have a deep feeling about it."

(Reprinted with permission from the April 16 issue of The Southern Illinoisan)