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"Walk Through Bethlehem" Tells Story Of First Christmas

Reported by: Send eMail Kallie Cart
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Dec. 13, 2013 10:15 PM EST
Updated: Dec. 13, 2013 11:21 PM EST

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Hometown , Putnam County , West Virginia

Christmas is fast approaching and there are a lot of events to get you in the holiday spirit.

But in one small Putnam County community, you can travel back in time 2,000 years to the first Christmas and step into Bethlehem.

The "Walk Through Bethlehem" is a labor of love by the Hometown Independent Mission Church.

“We see people come, and they're cold, but when they leave, they have a smile on their face,” Rita Riker said. “We say ‘thank you for coming,’ and they say ‘No, thank you. This was such a blessing.’ ”

It started five years ago, after one of the members, Darrell Moore, said he had a vision.

Now it's evolved to this, a permanent structure beside the church, complete with any store front or activity that would have been in Bethlehem, 108 actors and, of course, a whole host of animals – sheep, goats, donkeys and even camels.

It’s a Christmas tradition that grows each year. It attracted nearly 4,000 in 2012, and even more are expected this year.

“It’s an experience they will never have again,” Darrell Moore said. “It’s not a Nativity scene. It is Bethlehem re-enacted.”

It all starts off with the story of the first Christmas, then visitors have to check in at the census, make their way through the town and follow the star to the manger where Jesus was born.

“This is what the real meaning of Christmas is,” Phyllis Smith of Hurricane said.

The "Walk Through Bethlehem" is only open three nights. You have one more chance to check it out.

It will be open Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Hometown Independent Mission Church, which is off of West Virginia Route 62 in Putnam County.

All they ask for admission is a donation, or you can bring canned goods to benefit the Union Mission.



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