Originally created 11/27/05

Church's Bethlehem pageant is ready for holiday visitors



A local Christmas favorite has returned.

Last year, construction behind Grace United Methodist Church forced the cancellation of Return to Bethlehem, an interactive dramatic production in which spectators are able to walk through a depiction of the town of Bethlehem on the night of Jesus' birth.

"People were very disappointed," said Marianne Harlan, the church's director of Christian arts. "People in the church who participate as cast members were disappointed we couldn't offer it as a gift to the community.

"We heard a lot of other people who said it was an important part of their Christmas."

This is the sixth year for the production. When it began, it was a drive-through; however, because of the large turnout and traffic problems it created on Georgia Avenue, church officials changed the production to a walk-through a few years ago.

Elderly and disabled people who cannot walk through are driven through the production. It takes about 700 people, from cast members to the traffic committee and tour guides, to pull the event together.

The church averages about 800 in attendance each Sunday, Ms. Harlan said.

"This is the biggest program the church offers," she said.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.

If you go



What: Return to Bethlehem

When: 6-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, Dec. 7-10

Where: Grace United Methodist Church, 639 Georgia Ave., North Augusta

Cost: Free

Phone: 279-7525