Cropwell Baptist Church goes 'Back to Bethlehem'
by David Atchison
One local church is offering an interesting December tour, a walk through the bustling streets of Bethlehem as it was the night Jesus was born.

The City of Bethlehem, built by Cropwell Baptist Church members, wraps around the church’s Family Life Center.

“We’ve already built half of it,” said Andy Hadley, worship pastor for Cropwell Baptist Church.

He said close to 200 people are working together to make this a memorable experience for visitors.

“”It takes everybody to pull it off,” Hadley said. “It also helps bring the church closer together. To pull something like this off, you have to have good leaders.”

Visitors will actually experience the sights and sounds of the City of Bethlehem. The stage area will have more than 100 people in costumes, all playing a part when tours begin at 6 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-4.

“This is fine for any age,” Hadley said. “We even have kids in costumes.”

He said guests will wait in the Family Life Center for their tour through the City of Bethlehem. Visitors are provided drinks like hot chocolate and coffee as they wait their turn to tour the city.

Guests will come to the gates of Bethlehem, where they will see Roman Soldiers guarding the entrance to the city. After meeting their guide, who will interact with the many different actors who will play as townspeople, visitors will meet actors as they play soldiers, an innkeeper, a beggar, shopkeepers and the shepherds.

Guests will journey through the town to a small stable - a live nativity scene where Christ was born.

Hadley said the tour takes 20-30 minutes.

He said if a large group of 20 people or more plan to make the tour, it’s best to contact the church to pre-register by calling the church office at 205-338-7995.

“This is the fifth time we’ve done this,” Hadley said.

He said the largest crowd they had during a three-night tour was 1,300 guests. About 300-500 visitors make the tour each night.

“I would encourage people to get there no later than 8 p.m.,” Hadley said. “We try to make sure everybody gets to go through.”

Admission is free and tours are handicapped accessible.

Cropwell Baptist Church is located at 2700 Hardwick Road, Pell City. For more information about City of Bethlehem tours call 205-338-7995.
© 2011