The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Plays are his thing because of Christmas wish

Burton Bumgarner didn’t dream of becoming a successful playwright. It happened out of necessity.

The music director of Grace Lutheran, Hendersonville, N.C., had produced a few Christmas plays at another congregation, but after a few years realized he couldn’t find any more that he liked. He had written stories for his daughter when she was young, and she suggested he try creating a play.

“It went over pretty well, so I decided to see about publishing it,” Bumgarner said. “I didn’t know anything about publishers, but I sent it to a few, and the third one accepted it. I was kind of hooked after that.”

Hooked may be an understatement considering that Bumgarner’s “hobby” has yielded 70 works of various lengths and themes.

“I thought I had gotten lucky once, but they kept accepting more,” he said.

After he published about 10 plays with one company, another asked him to write specifically for middle-school children. He followed the publisher’s formula of a positive-themed story told through several scenes with a few children and some with everyone in the cast. This allows teachers to have rehearsals without all the children present.

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Embracing diversity