Area churches host live nativities

With Thanksgiving festivities in the rearview mirror, many in the community are now getting ready for the coming season of Christmas events. Among two of the choices this year are live nativities hosted by area churches.


“It’s a very happy time,” explained Sammy Taylor, pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church in Phil Campbell. “We’re celebrating the Lord’s birth.”

His church is preparing for their annual drive-through live nativity, “A Night in Bethlehem,” an event they’ve held for a number of years.

The display, located at the church at 2110 Highway 81 in Phil Campbell, includes several painted wood cutout animals – including sheep, camels, donkeys and a cow. One of the camels is estimated to be 8 or 9 feet tall.

The Bible-based display is a team effort by the church. Artist and church member Krena Curtis Poole painted the animals after another member cut them out of the wood. Someone else used plywood to make the barn for the manger. Other scenes include Jesus’ tomb and a depiction of him teaching the multitudes. A number of members worked on costumes.

This year, Taylor estimates 50-75 people will be involved in the 11 scenes that make up the event. The experience includes the prophecy of the birth of Jesus all the way through to Jesus’ resurrection.

Taylor said his church is happy to be a part of telling the story of Christ by helping to bring it to life in a special way.

There is no charge to drive through. CDs with narration of the scenes will be available free, and the narration will also be available on the church’s website and Facebook page.

“We’re excited to be able to have this event again this year,” Taylor added. “We’re praying for good weather, and we want folks to know they are welcome to come. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone.”

The event will be open Dec. 11-13 from 6-8 p.m. No registration is needed. For more information, call 205-993-4610 or visit the church’s Facebook page or website,


An event new to the community this year, located across from the Historic Roxy Theatre, is Russellville First Baptist’s walking nativity experience titled “A Walk Thru Bethlehem,” an outdoor adventure meant to take people back to the time of Christ’s birth.

The church has 110-120 volunteers who will be actors, many of them speaking, and other contributors to the experience.

More than 600 people have already registered to participate in the walking experience.

Encounters along the way will include Roman soldiers, beggars, shopkeepers, live animals, shepherds, foreign kings and the baby Jesus in the manger. Among the live animals will be a couple of camels, donkeys, llamas, goats, sheep and chickens.

“We’ll try to recreate what Bethlehem might have been like the night that Jesus was born,” explained the church’s youth director, Joel Davis, “and there will be seven difference scenes, including Nazareth, a marketplace, a synagogue, shepherds and the nativity.”

He said the idea stems from Luke chapter 2, wherein the Bible talks about Caesar August issuing a decree that the entire world should be taxed.

“What were those days really like?” asked Davis. “People were surrounded by Roman soldiers just taking things from them, by high taxes and even by religious leaders who, at the time, had 613 laws they were enforcing on people.”

Davis said a guide will escort each group to the recreated city, where they will be immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of ancient Bethlehem. The walk extends about a city block from the church.

He explained the experience is an approximate 40-minute walk that begins at the church and proceeds through the back alleys behind the nearby grocery store, Chamber of Commerce and bank.

“It’s going to be the perfect backdrop for a Middle Eastern community,” said Davis.

He said many people have lived in Russellville their entire lives but never walked that alley, which he explained includes cobblestone and the chance to look at things from a different perspective than the fronts of buildings they’re used to seeing all the time.

The church advises people to be aware the alley doesn’t have the smoothest conditions and might be difficult for some to navigate.

While participation is free, registration is recommended, as the church will likely cut off registration somewhere around 1,100-1,200 people for the run of the event. Walk-ins might be accepted, but only if the event is not already full.

While waiting to join a group for a tour, guests can relax in the church’s Christian Life Center, where they’ll be able to have hot chocolate and cookies, and there will be coloring pages to occupy the children while they wait. There will be a petting zoo and a photo booth, as well.

Event dates are Dec. 13-15 from 6-8 p.m., with the last tour at 8 p.m. and finishing around 8:45 p.m. For more information, call the church office at 256-332-2065 or visit their Facebook page or website.