WASHINGTON — More than 300 people are part of the cast and crew of the 45th annual Marion Avenue Baptist Church live Christmas show. With 30 live animals including a camel, mule and sheep, there is something for everyone during the free performances this weekend.
Pastor Joseph Brown, the director for the show, said the idea for the show came from the church’s founding pastor who saw a live outdoor Nativity while on vacation in North Carolina. He wanted to bring the production back to his home church in Washington, but knew it would be too cold. Instead, he decided to bring the animals indoors.
Brown said the first year there were only a couple of animals but as the popularity of the show grew, so did the cast. He said the cast and crew are all volunteers and not professionally trained actors. The animals are from area farmers who lend them for the length of the show.
He said handlers are always with them to ensure the animals are safe and comfortable as well as the actors. Brown himself has been participating in the show since he was an infant, making his debut as baby Jesus and even playing Joseph before taking over as director.
At the top of the show, Brown warns the audience there will be loud noises that might not be suitable for young children but a nursery is available for those from three months to two years old. The show is about two hours in length and begins with the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a child and continues through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Brown said he would encourage people to come out to the free show because not only does it provide a unique experience, but it tells a story and shares a message that hits home at Christmastime.
“I would say come because not only is it cool to see the lights and the falling snow and festive Christmas music, but it’s a story of hope. Often people comment after they leave the show that it ‘touched them in a deep way,’” he said explaining he heard that exact comment after the performance Tuesday night. “The reason why we want to share it is because we’re trying to break through the traffic of religion. We’re trying to say there’s something better than the do’s and dont’s of religion and its having your life changed by the love of Jesus Christ.”
Public showings of the Marion Avenue Baptist live animal Christmas show will take place at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday Dec. 15. The church is located at 215 South Marion Avenue in Washington. Anyone with questions may contact the church office at: 855-825-4113.