Each year, for more than 50 years, the Elkin Valley Baptist Church congregation has been sharing the story of Jesus’ birth through a live nativity scene, and last year, the church members added an entire village of Bethlehem to its outreach, coining the presentation the Bethlehem Experience.
The idea was to take the live nativity scene and make it more interactive and meaningful for those who visit for the Christmas event. This year’s Christmas village will be presented Dec. 2-4 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The church is located at the corner of North Bridge Street, Oak Grove Road and North Elkin Drive, in Elkin, with the village set up in the parking lot.
This year’s Bethlehem Experience will be similar to last year’s, noted Pastor Johnny Blevins. “We’ve increased the village to make it somewhat larger because of the great crowd we had last year, and we’ve tinkered with the drama part, but it will be very similar.”
He explained that the village will actually open at 6 p.m. or a few minutes after, allowing those coming in to “register for the census” as they are guarded by Roman soldiers, and then roam the village, where children can make ornaments at the carpentry shop, or go by the blacksmith shop, see the live animals, and visit other shops.
At 6:30 p.m., and then again at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., a 20-minute drama will play out in the village, where Mary and Joseph will arrive to Bethlehem, asking for a place to stay, speaking with the innkeeper, and the Christmas story will be shared.
Blevins said the congregation is looking forward to sharing the Christmas story in this unique way. “It is the message of the gospel. It is an opportunity to celebrate the great news of Jesus Christ with the community, and this is a perfect avenue to do that,” he said.
Over the course of the three-night event, Blevins said about 150 people will help make the Bethlehem Experience come to life for those visiting.
“Our first time to do it was last year. We had a lot of fun and the community responded so well. We felt like it went over well,” he said.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.