'Journey to Bethlehem'
After hiatus, church resurrects holiday event
Eastpointe Christian Church in Blacklick will take visitors on a "Journey to Bethlehem" Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, with a live nativity scene that includes camels, goats, donkeys, horses and sheep, and with actors portraying angels and shepherds.
The journey "celebrates the true meaning of Christmas," Pastor Chadwick Kellenbarger said.
"It is a wonderful and unique way to begin the Christmas season with your family and friends," he said.
Multiple 45-minute, interactive "journeys" will be presented outdoors between 6 and 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, at the church, 745 N. Waggoner Road.
Admission is free.
Kellenbarger said visitors begin in Nazareth, at Joseph's carpentry shop.
"They travel to Bethlehem, meeting Roman soldiers on horseback, another traveling family, three wise men with their gifts for the new king, shepherds keeping watch over their flocks and the angel Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus," he said.
Following the angel's announcement, people enter a large tent with the village of Bethlehem inside.
Kellenbarger said visitors will encounter a tax collector and his Roman guard and a bustling marketplace, complete with beggars and pickpockets.
"Once through the village, our travelers seek shelter at a local inn, only to hear from the innkeeper that every room is full," he said. "Our little group is told there may be room left in the stable, where earlier that day, the innkeeper had sent a young, pregnant woman and her betrothed."
When visitors arrive at the stable, they find the live nativity scene.
"All are encouraged to quietly observe the first nativity and reflect on the importance of this unique and momentous occasion," Kellenbarger said.
After leaving the stable, guests are treated to hot chocolate and homemade cookies in the worship center.
Kellenbarger said the Journey to Bethlehem involves a cast and volunteers of more than 100 people, plus live animals in many of the scenes.
"While guests wait in line for their journey, they will be treated to live seasonal music from our talented musicians," he said.
Eastpointe presented the program in 2007, 2008 and 2009, averaging more than 1,200 in attendance each year, Kellenberger said.
"After a two-year hiatus, we are pleased and honored to once again share the Journey to Bethlehem with the greater Columbus community," he said. "It is a wonderful way to start off your Christmas celebrations by reminding us of the true reason for the season."