First Presbyterian, First Broad Street United Methodist and First Baptist churches plan to host a Live Nativity and Bethlehem scene surrounding Church Circle in Kingsport this Christmas season to celebrate Jesus’ birth and to add to Kingsport’s year of centennial celebrations.
The new event will begin on East Sullivan Street near the Charlemont and Sullivan streets intersection and will flow through a planned route down New and Shelby streets and finally wind around the three church fronts on Church Street facing Church Circle.
“We want to bring the true meaning of Christmas to our region by giving people a scene similar to the one at the First Christmas,” said Greer, Interim Children’s Minister at First Baptist. “From the time families start the tour down Sullivan Street, they will encounter a picture of Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago when Jesus entered the world for us.”
The tour is a car ride through the city streets and Church Circle where families will encounter Roman officials who will be proclaiming the upcoming census for the region. Centurions on horseback will guard the streets, and peddlers and merchants will sell their wares in the open market. All visitors are asked to stay in their cars for safety as they are led through the marketplace and countryside of the Church Circle Bethlehem.
Over 100 people will volunteer from the three churches as citizens of the town dressed in period costumes for the event. There will be live animals including sheep, cows, goats and horses. And the Wise Men will even have their camel.
“We wanted to make Christmas come alive for everyone, especially the children,” said Greer. “For years one of our favorite ways of celebrating Christmas has been to attend the Living Nativity at Boones Creek Christian Church.”
“From the intimidating questioning from the Roman Centurions, through the bustle of the Bethlehem marketplace to the simplicity of the shepherds guarding their flocks to the joyous praises of the angel choir, our hearts are bursting before we reach the stable,” said Greer.
“And then there before you is the miracle of God’s Son who was sent here to earth for each one of us,” she said. “It is my hope and prayer that those who visit will leave with a heart overflowing with love that can only come from knowing Jesus.”
Greer said they wanted the Live Nativity to be a gift to the community and something special for children to remember. She said the City of Kingsport was very accommodating and helpful with advice and street closing plans to ensure all visitors will be safe on their Bethlehem journey.
Along the route, visitors will also get to enjoy the refurbished stable and Nativity Scene that has been a staple of Kingsport Christmases for many years.
The end of the ride into this Bethlehem will be a peak into the stable where the holy family brings their baby into the world. The birth of Jesus Christ in the stable is where visitors will finish their drive through Bethlehem and hopefully leave with their hearts happy and hopeful, according to Greer.
First Baptist’s Pastor Marvin Cameron said he hopes the event will become a tradition for Kingsport families. “We want people to know the love of God through this event.”
The Live Nativity will be held near Church Circle in Downtown Kingsport from 6 to 8 p.m., Dec. 17. The event is free to the public and will end promptly at 8 p.m.