Stone Church in Raynham transport visitors to the little town of Bethlehem at Live Nativity event on Sunday at 4:30pm.
RAYNHAM – Local parishoners brought the nativity to life Sunday night at the biennial Live Nativity event at Raynham’s First Congregational Church.
Visitors to the church’s little town of Bethlehem were able to travel along a road of houses, each with and learn about the nativity.
Visitors’ first stop was to the local census takers who recorded each guest’s arrival. As they moved further into the town, guests would meet townspeople, each with his own story to share.
“It’s our portrayal of the town of Bethlehem, as accurate as we can make it,” said Alan Anderson, a parishioner at the First Congregational Church, also called the Stone Church. In the town of Bethlehem, Anderson’s role was to braid donkey bridals.
Further down the road, visitors encountered inn keepers, bakers, basket weavers, villagers making yamakas, three kings and other characters typical of the era of the nativity scene. Live donkeys, alpacas, horses, goats and sheep further brought the scene to life.
Every half hour the towns people gathered to sing Christmas carols including “Away at the Manger,” “Noel,” and “Joy to the world.”
The event was organized and performed by Sunday School students, members of the choirs and other members of the parish.
“It’s a community event, it’s for anybody who might find some interest in this,” Anderson said. “We’ll have plenty of Jews and Catholics and anyone in the community who come here.”
The event requires such extensive organization and preparation that the church hosts the live nativity only once every other year, Nancy Tilbe said. Nancy’s husband has been the parish’s pastor for the past 25 years.
“We build the homes and decorate them like in biblical times so people get a little authentic feel of what it was like when Jesus was born,” Nancy said.
With the help of the town census taker, the parishioners are abe to tell just how many visitors they’ve had to their little town of Bethlehem each year. They’re expecting between 600 and 700 visitors this year, Tilbe said.
“We just want to promote the meaning of the season, which is caring about your community and your neighbors and sharing the love that Jesus taught us,” Tilbe said.