Editor’s Note: This story was previously published in the Dothan Eagle’s quarterly community magazine Discover Wiregrass. It’s being published in today’s edition as a reminder of this upcoming Wiregrass holiday event.
Christmas is known as the happiest time of the year, but it is also the busiest. Families are decorating their Christmas tree and children are all excited about what Santa Claus will have packed in his sleigh. But, to Christians around the world, Christmas is more than decorations and presents.
Several years ago, Mount Gilead Baptist Church on Brannon Stand Road began hosting an annual Christmas event to not only share the true meaning of Christmas, but to share Christ with everyone who attends A Walk through Bethlehem.
A Walk through Bethlehem shares the story of the birth of Chris and the story of his life.
Danny Williams and Rosie Ray co-chair the event along with other church members who volunteer time to put on the dramatic free event.
A Walk through Bethlehem is a dramatic portrayal that brings the village of Bethlehem to life.
Williams first heard of the production when he attended a conference in Massachusetts. He also learned that the Shirley Hills Baptist Church of Warner Robins, Georgia had produced a similar event and averaged 10,000 guests per year. The church sent him the script and the DVD.
Mount Gilead has thousands of guests attend the event annually, traveling from all over the Southeast. The guided tour through Bethlehem takes roughly 45 minutes.
“In the gospel it states everyone was required to participate in a census,” Williams said. “Before entering Bethlehem, everyone will come to the Worship Center to fill out a census card. That card will be traded to the host, who will then give them a real shekel to pay their taxes to the tax collector, guided by a Roman soldier.”
During the tour, guests are greeted by multiple shops to visit such as fish market, spice market, and live animals. Each booth has a biblical story to share. While visiting Bethlehem, guests will witness the angel sharing the news of Christ’s birth and travel with the shepherds as they go to rejoice and worship Christ the King.
The event concludes with visitors reflecting on the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ.
Although the event concludes with the resurrection, senior pastor the Rev. Bradley Rushing will tell anyone the event may be over, but God’s plan is just beginning.
“A Walk through Bethlehem is an event for everyone,” Rushing said. “If you are lost and need to know Christ, this will help you hear the gospel. If you are not lost, but you hunger to know more, I believe this event will help you as well.
“This event allows everyone the opportunity to know Christ and to hear the gospel. I can tell you I have seen many people come to the Lord after attending this event, and that is what I call the miracle of salvation. I am blessed to witness this miracle during this event.
“We want to point everyone to Christ, and we want to bring our community together while doing so, and this event allows us to do both.”
If you go:
Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, 2864 South Brannon Stand Road, Dothan
Reservations may be made by visiting www.mgbcdothan.com
Walk-ins are welcome
Dates: Dec.10 -15
Dec 10, 11 and 12, hours: 5 p.m. — 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 13 and 14, hours: 5 p.m. — 9:30 p.m.
Dec. 15, hours: 3:30 p.m. — 9:30 p.m.