Kingdom Players was founded in 1995 by Dr. Sharon Carbaugh, known to students simply as “Doc.” Before coming to Lee, Doc was on staff at Trinity Bible College in North Dakota where she started the drama program and led three drama teams. Dr. Paul Conn, then President of Lee, heard about Doc and contacted her to see if she would be interested in starting a traveling drama team at Lee. She accepted, and that’s when it all started.

The team would be comprised of six students, each receiving half tuition scholarships during their time with Kingdom Players. In the first few years they were privileged to minister alongside names like Carman, Ray Boltz, and the Katinas. The team stayed very busy, traveling three weekends a month, two months in the summer, and during fall and spring breaks. Typical performances would consist of skits, human videos, dance, and pantomime. The team would minister at churches, youth camps, marriage retreats, chapel services, drama training sessions, schools, and even at the Church of God Winterfest events. Nearly 100% of the material was written by Doc, along with herself and a student director doing most of the choreography. In addition to directing Kingdom Players, Doc was a professor in the Theater department as well as the director for the Theater department productions. All of this combined with traveling virtually all year, Doc realized that it was her time to step down as director, which she did in 2007. She wanted to be involved with a local church congregation on a weekly basis, and not just 6-8 times a year. She is grateful for the time that she had with Kingdom Players and is currently a Real Estate Broker and very active in her local church.

In the summer of 2007, Dr. Jay Critz became the new director. Members referred to him as “DC” and he jumped right into the position. DC was a middle school teacher and continued to do that while directing Kingdom Players. During his first few years, the team shared the stage with various Christian artists like Casting Crowns and continued to minister in a variety of venues. DC liked the idea of incorporating everyday situations in the skits that were performed, which the team continues to do today. It was always a compliment to hear that the skits were great, but what DC liked even better than that was when a pastor complimented the team’s servanthood among the church. Servant leadership is something that has been at the forefront of Kingdom Players, and DC made sure that it continued during his time as director. Before becoming the director of KP, he and his wife, Cherie, traveled on their own doing drama ministry in churches. DC got to the point where he was ready for a new challenge in life and wanted to get back to ministering with his family. He felt accomplished in what he had done with KP and felt it was his time to step down. Some of his favorite KP memories were seeing the students walk across the graduation stage and receive their diplomas and, of course, maintaining friendships with the teams he led. In December of 2012, Dr. Critz stepped down as the director and is now traveling with his family, continuing to do drama ministry around the country.

During the spring semester of 2013, Phil Cook, then the Vice President for Enrollment at Lee, led the team and traveled with them to various ministry opportunities. In July of 2013, Michael DelBonis became the director of the team and continues to lead the group all over the country. The team ministers not only on Sunday morning and Sunday nights, but also in weekly youth services. The group will focus on skits, human videos, and even spoken word as their primary method of ministry. Writing the material has become a collaborative, team effort. The basic philosophy of this team is to be a professional, high-quality group that will promote Lee University as well as minister to the spiritual needs of all those with whom we come in contact. Servanthood is at the forefront of what we do. The stage is a place of privilege, and ministry is everything we do before and after we are on that stage.

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