"A Night in Bethlehem"
Cedar Ridge Baptist Church, in Crackers Neck, is recreating the busy marketplace in the town of Bethlehem the night of Jesus' birth in the interactive play, "A Night in Bethlehem," which will be presented this Friday and Saturday night from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
The evening's "experience" in Bethlehem, staged for the second year by the congregation, takes place in three segments. As visitors arrive, they will be required to register for the census and will receive an allotment of money - replicas of Roman coins which they can use to shop at booths in Bethlehem's market square, Director Stephanie Purvis said.
"We streamlined the first part of the evening to improve the flow of traffic as people arrive at the church," she noted. "Last year, the play started in the sanctuary and then moved into the fellowship hall, but that created a bottleneck. This year, they'll go from the entrance hall directly into the fellowship hall," she noted.
There, in a marketplace with five street booths, church members will present several interactive skits and a prophet will speak about the coming of the Messiah, she noted.
Following the arrival of Joseph and Mary, who find no room at the Inn in Bethlehem, the play shifts to a Living Nativity set up in a field across from the church.
"We moved the Nativity from the church parking lot, where it was last year, over to the field so there would be more parking," Purvis noted. "Now we're just praying it won't rain."
Pastor James Holcomb and the congregation, which numbers about 300 most Sundays, welcome everyone and note that a donation of canned food for the East Stone Gap Food Bank would be appreciated.
In addition, they ask that folks be on the lookout for a deer that may be walking around in the area.
The deer was more or less adopted by a local dog who befriended it. "It follows the dog wherever it goes," Holcomb noted. "A couple of weeks ago, the lady who cleans the church was bringing in her supplies and the dog and the deer just walked right in and roamed around until they were ready to leave," he noted.
When the Living Nativity, and the animals it includes, are in place, the dog and deer might very well show up as well, he added.
Those with roles in this year's interactive play include:
Joseph, Bryan Davidson; Mary, Mona Holcomb; Prophet, James Holcomb; Tax Collector, Rick Marcum and Angel , Heather Wallace;
Pottery Shop: Kristi McKinney, Missy Aistrop and Missy Bledsoe;
Basket Shop: Paul Snodgrass, Boots Snodgrass, Tish Dorton, Deb Gardner and Sheila Gabbert;
Hebrew School: Angela Davidson, Debbie Davidson and Alivia Davidson;
Jewelry Shop: Teresa Clark, Rose Dickenson and Chrissy Duncan;
Farmer's Market: Deb Mullins, Peggy Galloway and Erin Lawson;
Citizens: Melvin Galloway, Melanie Galloway, Zoie Bresee, Aaron Moseley, Taylor Gibson, Katie Gibson, Olivia Gibson, Morgan Terry, Donna Carroll, Nikki Zirkle, Haley Zirkle, Dana Snodgrass and Stewart Swinney;
Woman at the Well, Lori Mullins;
Wise Men: Charles Swindall, Randy Fleenor and Melvin Carroll;
Wise Men, Scribes: Kolton Holcomb, Chase Robbins and Zachary Barnette;
Shepherds: Joe Freeman, Dave Kelly, Travis Shupe and Billy Harris;
Soldiers: Dan Gibson, Mike Clark, Josh Kelly, Todd Zirkle, Tony Aistrop and Morgan Tomlinson;
Beggar, Evan Holcomb; Census Taker, Dennis Barnette; Census Assistant, Judy Kelly; Inn Keeper, Danny Bledsoe; Hornist, Micah Tomlinson;
Costumes: Bootsie Duncan and Billie Holcomb;
Sound/Lights: Becky Swinney, Ted Poff, Paige Blevins and Bobby Duncan;
Directors: Randy Purvis, Stephanie Purvis and Leigh Smith.