How Far to Bethlehem? – Well, the journey will take you about an hour, at Parkers Cove Baptist Church’s dramatized retelling of the Christmas story.
Visitors to the church’s new multi-purpose FLEX Centre are invited to take a tour through a series of scenes and encounters, meeting characters from the story of the birth of Jesus. Retold and reimagined through the script written for the purpose by local amateur dramatist Simon Bonnington, and enacted by two dozen members of the congregation, the church looks forward to welcoming all who would like to be reminded of ‘the reason for the season.’
“Recently our congregation received a surprise gift donation of a number of costumes previously used by a church in New Brunswick, including many used to tell the nativity story,” said Mark Elley, pastor at the church as he explained the inspiration for the event. “It was their desire to see them continue to be used rather than be stored away. A group of enthusiastic church folks suggested we jump right in and used them this Christmas. And so, here we are, excited to retell the nativity story in a fresh and creative way."
Bonnington, a regular worshipper at the church on Parker Mountain Road, was approached to see what might be possible.
“And of course, the creative thought process just started to churn,” he said. “Back in 2014 we had run an Easter story event with different scenes for the different parts of the story – you know, the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the Crucifixion. So I thought we could try to develop something similar for Christmas. And the inspiration for the characters and encounters just flowed.”
Having the gymnasium space of the new FLEX Centre as the venue, and the costumes already in hand made the task much easier. The Annapolis District Drama Group very kindly made their scenery ‘flats’ available to enable construction of a large central market place straight from First Century Palestine, complete with market stalls that might not be so very different from those in the Farmer’s Market in Annapolis Royal in the summer – although the vendors are dressed in robes and sandals rather than shirt and pants. Surrounding the market are the vignette areas, each one self-contained, where the tour parties will move from one encounter to the next as the story unfolds.
“I wanted to try to explore the story beneath the story,” Bonnington continued, “I mean, we know ‘there was no room at the inn’ in Bethlehem, but who was the inn-keeper? He had a business to run before Mary and Joseph arrived, and after they had departed – he had a life, a story to tell. We have no records or details, so I’ve tried to craft a backstory to dramatize their eye-witness accounts of the events, to draw the audience into the story.”
From the village gossips at the well in Nazareth, meeting the shepherds on the Judean hillside and the Court of King Herod, visitors have the opportunity to hear the well-known story in a new and exciting way in groups of up to eight people, starting at 10 minute intervals.
In the FLEX Foyer they are serving visitors with authentic foods and drinks such as dates, figs, breads, and lemon-tea, as well as providing the regular tea and coffee options for those with more 21st Century palates.
FREE TO ALL
The free-to-all event, suitable for any age, runs on Friday, Dec. 13 with the first tour at 6 p.m. and the last at 8 p.m.; then again on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 15 with first tour at 2 p.m. and the last at 4 p.m.
To avoid a backlog of visitors all arriving at the same time, the church is making pre-scheduling of tour times possible by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 902-526-0953.
Freewill donations will be accepted.