Racine Christian Church presents ‘Journey to Bethlehem’ | Local news
NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Last year, those behind a Live Nativity scene taped a movie-style special. This year, they are grateful to be back in person.
Approximately 400 volunteers and members of the Racine Christian Church congregation will present âJourney to Bethlehem,â a live theatrical production that depicts the first day of Jesus’ life.
The production is a walking trail that includes a live performance and an interactive outdoor theater, said Darrin Brower, minister of worship and director of production.
It allows participants to simulate a trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem made by the parents of Jesus, Joseph and Mary. The live manger features real animals, many of which belong to members of the congregation.
It’s a significant investment of time and money for the church, Brower said. In addition to getting help from around 400 volunteers, the church spends $ 15,000 and $ 20,000 each year on things from renting camels for the nursery to providing cookies and hot chocolate to the end of the trail.
But members continue to do so because of its importance, Brower said.
âThere’s a face-to-face encounter when people enter the stable scene,â Brower said. âWhen you see the baby alive, it makes an impact and brings the story to life. Understanding God’s love for us is one of the purest messages we can send to the community.
The exhibit began decades ago as something for members of the congregation. One of the church members held the stage on his property and invited members of the congregation and others to witness it. But about 21 years ago, the church came up with the idea of ââinviting the public.
âJourney to Bethlehemâ is based on a similar production in Oklahoma City, Brower said. The church borrowed this script and made their own adjustments, then invited the audience.
The program has been improved and streamlined year after year, Brower said. One of the biggest changes has been the layout of features to avoid long waits – four or five years ago people used to wait up to 90 minutes to start, but now they wait around 15 minutes, has it? -he declares. Once people are cleared in, the entire experience lasts 90 minutes to two hours.
Besides providing a holiday activity for the community, Brower said, the volunteers also enjoy working together to produce it.
âIt’s so cool to see so many people coming together,â said Brower. âThere is a community aspect that this creates within the body of the church. They get to know each other and spend time together. It’s a cool bonding experience.