Volunteers construct town of Bethlehem

Volunteers construct the town of Bethlehem for the “Return to Bethlehem” live Nativity at New Victoria Baptist Church in Woodstock. Visitors can walk through the town, listen to storytellers and visit the manger from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 5-8. Admission is free.

The popular “Return to Bethlehem” Christmas program at New Victoria Baptist Church in Woodstock is returning this year after a one-year break.

From 6-9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, visitors will enter a re-creation of the town during the time of the birth of Christ. “Return to Bethlehem,” is open to the public and admission is free. New Victoria Baptist is located at 6659 Bells Ferry Road, across from Hobgood Park.

Visitors have the opportunity to witness the live Nativity, pet the live animals in the city and sample the breads and sweets there.

Volunteers begin building the sets for “Return to Bethlehem” in October after planning starts in January. About 200 volunteers also play the part of townsfolk, Roman soldiers, as well as Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men, director Pam Davis said. Most of the volunteers who appear in the Nativity also worked to build the town.

The production brings together members of several churches to accomplish the event.

In 2017 the event drew more than 6,000 over the run of the show, prompting the move to starting an hour earlier this year, Davis said.

“We wanted to make sure everyone who wants to can enjoy this,” Davis said. “If you are in line by 9 p.m., you will get to go through, even if we have to stay until 11 p.m.”

Davis said the project has been blessed with volunteers who have been consistent in their efforts and said she is grateful as well for businesses that provide meals nightly for the entire group of volunteers.

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