NEW MINAS, NS - It’s probably the closest thing to taking a step back in time to the first Christmas in Bethlehem.
The New Minas Baptist Church congregation held its third annual Living Nativity Scene on the church grounds on Dec. 1, 2 and 3. The event celebrates the origins of Christmas by sharing the story of the birth of Jesus in a fun, interactive way.
Taylor Doucette of Brooklyn Corner, who was in the role of Joseph on Dec. 2, said he and Kira Merrill of New Minas, who played Mary, were asked to play the parts at the last minute. He said it was an easy decision and he was excited to oblige.
“It’s fun to see people from the community come through and just the smiles on their faces,” Doucette said.
Doucette said it takes weeks of preparation by more than 200 volunteers to stage the living nativity scene. There is a lot of work involved when it comes to the costumes, set design, music and lighting.
Merrill said all the hard work that goes into the event is definitely worth it. She loves that there are so many people in the church that come together as a family and put it on.
“Seeing everyone come through and hearing their feedback later is so cool, and it looks awesome,” she said. “I just love being a part of something that can bring so much joy to everyone.”
Senior Pastor Daniel Cormier said the church family really pulls together and every position is integral. They expanded the village this year to accommodate the number of members who wanted to have roles. A lot of families like participating together.
He said the foggy weather impacted the first drive-through evening on Dec. 1. Because of poor visibility, the animals arrived a little later than expected. This resulted in a challenging traffic situation with cars already lined up.
“The fog gave sort of a murky, mystical look to the village of Bethlehem, which people loved, but I think it also kept some away last night,” Cormier said.
In spite of the poor visibility, they still had approximately 140 or 150 cars come through. As the second drive-through night got underway on Dec. 2, they were filled to capacity with cars. Cormier said they want the living nativity scene to be a blessing to the community so they use it as an opportunity to collect food bank donations.
Cormier said that many who took part in the drive-through nights planned to return for the walk-through evening on Dec. 3 to interact live with the actors.
Associate Pastor Paul Fowler said the congregation members are amazing, essentially donating their entire weekend to the project. He said they tweak a few things every year based on lessons they’ve learned through past experience and it’s still a challenge to put it on. However, the living nativity scene can be “quite a machine at times” because the volunteers are so good at what they do.
He said the level of support from the general community is “really incredible.” Some visitors travel from as far away as the eastern and south shores.
“I think that the amazing part for us is that they’re so eager to give and as we support the food bank through this, they’re with us,” Fowler said.
He said they’re very pleased with the community partnerships that have been formed in support of the event and the reaction on social media has been incredible.