Take A Journey To Bethlehem, By Way Of Fort Assiniboine

The Journey To Bethlehem Committee had a successful opening weekend for their interactive presentation of the night of Jesus' birth, with over 400 visitors attending the Saturday and Sunday performances.

The Journey To Bethlehem experience begins at the Fort Assiniboine Catholic Church. Volunteers in costume greet guests as they approach the building and help them get seated inside. Small groups are guided through the outdoor presentation, with tours leaving the church every 5 – 8 minutes. Guests are treated to Christmas hymns and carols to pass the time while they await their turn. The Shining Banks Group performed a stunning choral recitation accompanied by live music for those waiting in the church on Sunday.

A volunteer will collect the guests when it is their turn to enjoy the experience. First, they are taken to a room off the side of the church where the performance's mood is established, and the presentation's setting is explained. The guests are to be part of a Jewish family travelling to Bethlehem to be registered in the census decreed by Caesar Augustus and listed for taxation on the night of Jesus's birth, as described in Christian teachings and traditions.

Their guides then lead the group through a series of outdoor stations where they encounter Roman soldiers, shepherds, bandits, and a host of other characters played by costumed volunteers. At the end of their journey, guests will arrive at the Friendship Centre in the Fort Assiniboine Museum, where they may sign the guestbook and enjoy some refreshments.

Admission to the Journey To Bethlehem performance is free, but attendees may make a donation when they reach the Friendship Centre at the end of the experience. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), which wrote the script for the performance. According to their website, CBM is "an international Christian development organization, committed to improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities in the poorest countries of the world." The rest of the proceeds support the costs of this yearly production, including costumes, props, venue rental, and other expenses.

The Journey To Bethlehem has two more performances scheduled on November 26 and 27, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Joyful Melody from Barrhead will be performing in the church on November 26, and The Fehr Family from the Spruce Grove area will perform on November 27.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette