A local church’s “Back to Bethlehem” program will have something new this year.

“Along with our live-action and interactive Bethlehem experience, we will have a dramatic re-enactment of the nativity told through vibrant art, song and shadows,” said Keri Ankersen, event coordinator. “The actors have been working diligently to make this experience come alive for all who come and see this spectacular drama.”

The family friendly event — which is free and open to the public — is set from 5-7 p.m. Sunday at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1440 E Military Ave., in Fremont.

As in past years, the event helps transport guests back in time to experience what life might have been like for Mary and Joseph as they came to Bethlehem.

A large, rented spotlight, projects large beams of light into the night sky, reminding visitors of the star that Wise Men followed to find the Christ child.

Inside the church’s Community Life Center, attendees can walk through a recreation of the town of Bethlehem.

The evening begins with a performance by the North Bend Community Band at 5 p.m. in the worship center. Cookies and cocoa will be available in the lobby of the Community Life Center — just a doorway away.

Also new this year is a Christmas carol sing in the chapel and an area dedicated to a kids’ craft station in the worship center’s fellowship hall.

Those wishing to have a Bethlehem experience can come through the main entrance doors under the canopy.

In the atrium, families can register for a raffle prize. There, they pick up their “Passport to Bethlehem.”

Passport wording encourages all to check out everything Bethlehem has to offer.

The passports are “stamped” at each station or vendor stall.

About 40 volunteers participate in Back to Bethlehem. Volunteers bake cookies. Many participate in musical performances.

Volunteers portray Bethlehem townspeople — such as a costumed census taker, reminiscent of the census taken by Caesar which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Shops in Good Shepherd’s Bethlehem include a merchant with oranges and a bird seller “selling” birds.

“It really is a team effort,” Ankersen said.

Last year, about 300 people attended the event.

Ankersen encourages area residents to attend.

“Around Christmas time, families have many events and activities they can attend to get in the holiday spirit,” Ankersen said. “We want Back to Bethlehem to be an experience that stands out from the rest, where families will not only have fun visiting and interacting with the historical town of Bethlehem, but will walk away in the wonder of the Christ Child, and the greatest message of all.”

The church also will have a Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m. Dec. 24. The public is invited.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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