Mt. Olivet UMC recreates Bethlehem

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2018

By Jeremy Weldon

The members of Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church have spent the past two weeks working hard to prepare for the church’s presentation of “One Starry Night” on Saturday and Sunday (8th & 9th) from 5 to 7 p.m. each evening.

The church’s family life center has been transformed into a reproduction of the Biblical Bethlehem designed to give visitors and participants a feel for the way the city would have appeared the night of Jesus’ birth as told in the Gospel of Luke.

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Pastor Charles Reed and the congregation has welcomed all of Panola County to visit the church this weekend during presentation times to experience “One Starry Night.” The director of the production is Susan Ingram, choir director, with assistance from Marie Mills, minister of music.

Upon arrival at Bethlehem, each visitor will be given Roman coins that can be used to buy food items (cookies and hot cocoa included) and browse various tents in the marketplace where period jewelry, blankets, vegetables, and other items will be on display. Merchants and other townspeople will help recreate the “Little Town of Bethlehem.”

Children can enjoy games and experience the shepherd’s view of appearing angels. Because everyone in Bethlehem during that time was there on government orders to conduct a census, visitors will also have to sign their names at the census table. Caesar Augustus, like the scriptures record, will also have a booth where his tax collectors will be taking coins.

Roman soldiers will also be stationed throughout the town to oversee the people. At the edge of the bustling Bethlehem square, visitors will notice a stable where one young Jewish couple has found shelter, there being no room in the adjacent inn.

The husband, Joseph of Nazareth, a carpenter, has made his wife Mary comfortable among the stalled animals and she has given birth to a son. The people of Bethlehem are invited to see the newborn baby, lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Local shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks that night, had already arrived in the town, bringing with them the news that angels had appeared in the sky over the dark hills outside Bethlehem, announcing a holy birth.

The Bethlehem replica, complete with the character actors at each of the stations and the Christmas night narration, promises a fun and fulfilling time for families and people of all ages. The members of Mt. Olivet cordially invite all to attend.

Mt. Olivet is located at the intersection of Hwy. 315 and Hunt Rd. east of Batesville and can best be reached from Batesville by traveling Hwy. 6E toward Oxford to the Hwy. 315/Water Valley exit and then south on 315 to Mt. Olivet Road on the right. The church driveway is right after the turn onto Mt. Olivet Rd.