By Wendy Byerly Wood
The village of Bethlehem will be the center of activity this year for Elkin Valley Baptist Church’s annual Christmas program. For more than 50 years, the church has shared the story of Jesus’ birth with the community through a live nativity scene, but this year church members wanted to bring a new twist to the program.
“We had a live nativity with still actors for over 50 years right at Christmas,” explained Justin Blakley, who is coordinating the Christmas village this year. “So we wanted to expand on it and make it a little more interactive, hopefully a little more meaningful for those who come.”
The Christmas village will be presented Dec. 4-6 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
“We are going to have a small-scale Bethlehem. People will enter through the city gates, and all kinds of stations will be set up from working blacksmith to a baker to a carpenter shop, and each one will have a hands-on activity,” he said.
At the carpenter shop, children will be able to make a handmade wooden ornament. There will be a stable set up for photo opportunities, and there will be free hot chocolate, S’mores and snacks.
“But then every 30 minutes a 25-minute drama musical will take place throughout the village,” said Blakley. “Mary and Joseph will come in and interact with the innkeeper, the angels will appear to the shepherds in the field who then run to the town to the manger, and then it is going to culminate with the wisemen arriving.”
Having visitors mingling through the village helps them become part of the drama, Blakley said. A choir will be singing throughout the drama, which will happen three times each night.
“There is something interactive for adults and kids. They will be able to do things, make things. It is a way to breathe new life into a familiar story,” he said of the free program.
While similar programs may be offered in much larger cities, Blakley said the church isn’t aware of anything like this in the area. “We wanted something that would tell the story more, about what happened, what went on. It’s a unique experience.
“It is our gift to the community,” he said. “It is a great time of year for what we’re celebrating. It is a good experience for everybody and a lot of fun to share the good news about Jesus this time of year.”
The church has more than 400 in attendance most Sundays, Blakley said. And some of those who attend will be volunteering for the program every night, while others may only be there one or two nights. “We have quite a lot of people behind the scenes, to up front, to singing.”
With the church’s location at the corner of North Bridge Street, Oak Grove Road and North Elkin Drive in Elkin, Blakley said it should be easy to spot. The Christmas village is set up in the parking lot, so people can park and walk right up to it.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.