Religion

Community of Bethlehem unites to present yearly live Nativity

A  living nativity scene on KY 22 in Bethlehem, Ky., Thursday, December, 22, 2011. SInce 1959, the community of Bethlehem has performed a 4-day living nativity scene complete with live animals. It's a collaborative effort sponsored by three local churches; Bethlehem Baptist, Bethlehem Methodist, and Point Pleasant Christian. Charles Bertram | Staff
A living nativity scene on KY 22 in Bethlehem, Ky., Thursday, December, 22, 2011. SInce 1959, the community of Bethlehem has performed a 4-day living nativity scene complete with live animals. It's a collaborative effort sponsored by three local churches; Bethlehem Baptist, Bethlehem Methodist, and Point Pleasant Christian. Charles Bertram | Staff Herald-Leader

BETHLEHEM — The word Bethlehem means "house of bread."

In a gesture befitting an image of sustenance, the people of this Henry County community believe in bringing a message of hope through a living Nativity scene.

They've been doing it since 1959. The same donkey has been used for many years; some of the original wood from that first year is used to create the stable today.

The four-day event runs through Christmas Day, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Three Henry County churches — Bethlehem Baptist, Bethlehem Methodist and Point Pleasant Christian — sponsor the event on Ky. 22, across the street from the Bethlehem Post Office.

Church members and other groups, including entire families, take turns portraying a dozen characters. Each group of 12 stands in 50-minute shifts, then a new cast, already in costume, moves into position.

Some families will take an entire shift, then pose for a family photo to send as Christmas cards, said Keith Croxton, the Nativity coordinator.

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