Heritage Memorial Church’s Christmas gift to Fayette County, “Journey Through Bethlehem,” returns to town this year for three nights only – Friday, Dec. 9; Saturday, Dec. 10; and Sunday, Dec. 11.
The Church Reservation Line (740) 335-1700 opened Monday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m. Callers can schedule their “Journey” tour between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday-Friday from the 21st through Opening Night, Dec. 9.
Free performances start at 5 p.m. each evening, with groups (up to 30 people each) departing on the walking tour every 10 minutes. The last group each evening will start their Journey at 8:30 p.m. That’s 22 performances each night! Guests with limited abilities to walk the distance are encouraged to attend as well, letting the reservationist know that a golf cart will be needed. Also, a deaf interpreter will be available for the 6 p.m. performance on Sunday.
This unique delivery of the well-known Nativity Story is performed in the great outdoors 95 percent of the performance, so good walking shoes, and clothes appropriate for the night’s weather are highly recommended. There is so much to see and do on the fun and fact-filled “Journey,” which is appropriate for all ages.
Beginning inside the sanctuary, each group meets their Bethlehem Guide, who then leads them outside and around the Pathway on the church property’s perimeter to the “Town of Bethlehem.” There are encounters with many of the most expected Nativity characters and a few historical figures, too. As should be expected, many live animals are to be seen, and some are available for guests to touch. Some are not, but add to the ancient Middle Eastern atmosphere, such as three large camels, which are made accessible, but not too closely by visitors for safety precautions. Parents or chaperones are asked to maintain close watch on their children along the Pathway for safety reasons inherent to being outside in the dark, as the Pathway is softly lit.
A 15-minute break in the Bethlehem Marketplace gives visitors free time to mingle and experience the sights, sounds, and people of the old town, while tasting samples of ancient Hebrew foods, drinks, and warm themselves by the Town’s marketplace bonfire. Guests then regroup and head to the Manger, located inside our Family Center. Meeting Mary and Joseph, who hold the main Reason of the Season, the Christ Child, is a heart stirring conclusion to the Nativity Story… but the “Journey” is not over yet!
Leaving the Manger, guests are treated to free refreshments and a gym full of displays of how Christmas is celebrated “Around the World,” focusing on countries in which Heritage supports Christian missionaries. Individual feedback is welcomed with a survey at the end so the event organizers can gain additional opinions on how to improve the “Journey” as an experience unique to any rendition of the Christ Child’s Story most people in the Fayette County region have ever seen!
This Christmas experience is entirely FREE, a gift from Heritage to the community! Donations are welcomed, but not expected. Call (740) 335-1700 to make your reservation. Group reservations fill the tours quickly, so call early to get your family or other group together on the most wonderful “Journey” of all time!