Maggie Valley UMC displays special Easter scene

By Rachel Robles, Lifestyles Editor | Apr 08, 2014
Photo by: Jim Ruff EASTER SCENE — The Easter scene, painted by members of the church, can be seen Maggie Valley UMC on Soco Road through April.

Drivers passing by Maggie Valley United Methodist Church on Soco Road might think they’re seeing a Nativity scene in front of the building. They wouldn’t be far off.

Some members of the church have painted and built an “Easter Nativity,” depicting Christ’s resurrection.

Jim and Zeata Ruff, of Clyde, headed the project. The Ruffs are both retired from Haywood County Schools — Jim, having taught art for several years and serving as assistant principal at Bethel Elementary School and Bethel Middle School, and Zeata having worked as a bookkeeper at Canton Middle School.

“I happened to be in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Asheville five years ago, at Christmas time,” Zeata Ruff said. “They have a Nativity that was painted by the art department at UNCA that they’ve put up for 20 years. I could look out my window and see that, and it inspired me. When Jim and I came home, I started talking about it and said we needed to do that for our church. After we put it up that first year, I told him we needed an Easter one too, and I had just always wanted to do that.”

The Ruffs have put up and taken down the Nativity scene at Maggie Valley UMC for five years. While taking it down in January, Zeata mentioned her idea for an Easter scene.

“There were several people from an art class I taught at the church helping us, and I happened to mention that I’d been thinking about doing an Easter thing,” said Ruff. “Each and every one of them jumped on the bandwagon.”

The painters were Lovia and Tom Barefoot, Brenda Griswold, Dottie Horton, Rusti and George Race, Mary and Doug Sisk, and Jim and Zeata Ruff.

“The volunteer painters were so willing to do whatever they needed to do to get it done,” said Ruff. “We got it done.”

They began at the end of January and took two months to finish it.

The completed Easter scene is comprised of three women, a sleeping Roman solider, an angel, the tomb itself and a background piece.

The tomb is made of three pieces and stands at 7 feet tall and 12 feet wide; it depicts the crypt, a draping cloth and a crown of throns. The background piece is also made of three pieces and stands at 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide; it depicts a mountain with three crosses.

All five figures and six background pieces were made from signboard and were individually cut, primed and painted.

“Just as it’s getting dusky dark, it’s lit up, and it’s really beautiful,” Ruff said.

And while the Easter scene is the realization of an idea, it’s also a very special symbolic gesture.

“I was very sick for about two years, and had to have a liver transplant,” Ruff said. “God is good to me and I have done exceedingly well. I wanted to do this just as a thank you to him and to my church, I feel like it’s extremely important to me to give back.”

The Easter scene will remain on display through the month of April.