Middleville Baptist to Host 15th Annual Live Nativity

By Julie Perine on December 02, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Again this year, a scene is developing just outside Bridgeport city limits which will transport visitors to Bethlehem of Judea more than 2,000 years ago.
"Our nativity is definitely growing," said Gina Sharps. "More children and families are volunteering to share the story of Christmas. We will have live horse, donkeys and sheep."
Middleville Baptist Church will host its annual Drive-Through Live Nativity 6-8 p.m. Sat., Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10.
New this year is a small welcome scene, located at the junction of Route 50 East and Middleville Road. Once reaching the church grounds on Middleville Road, motorists will drive through a series of scenes telling the Christmas story.
“We start with the angel giving Mary the news that she will deliver Baby Jesus and it goes all the way through the whole story,” said Paula Boyles, wife of Pastor Paul Boyles.
Scenes feature church members, live animals and scenery which depicts simpler times of New Testament days. Baby Jesus’s manger is built of rough-cut lumber. Mary is riding on a donkey, shepherds are leading their sheep and people are cooking over open fires.
Setting up the scenes includes carpentry work, landscaping and the gathering of area farm animals.
“We’ve done it for so many years and kind of have it figured out,” Paula Boyles said. "Everyone has a part and it all comes together pretty easily.”
Members of the church congregation, which average about 50 for Sunday morning worship, pay close attention to every detail. Evidence of necessary modern additions – such as spotlights – are even concealed, Boyles said.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “People even go around and cut different grasses which we use to cover up wires.”
It is a large under taking, but one which the church is annually excited and honored to host.
“We just feel it is our gift to the community,” Boyles said. “We want to get the message out of what Christmas is all about.”
The last scene of the nativity features a sign that says: “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
“That’s our goal,” Boyles said. “That’s our ministry and our outreach every year.”
This is the 15th year for the live nativity. It was Sharps and her mother-in-law Donna Sharps who brought the idea to Pastor Paul back in 2001.
“Gina’s parents are ministers and had done this several times at their church,” said Donna Sharps. “My son Craig said our church driveway was ideal – that people could drive straight through and see the scenes.”
The church had a number of other resources which served the outreach, too.
“We had several guys from Joseph’s Nursery who came to church here, so they provided the pine and grasses so we could make it look like Bethlehem in the old days,” Boyles said. “And we began working together as a church to build the backdrops.”
Gina Sharps said the live nativity provides a unique opportunity for the church to portray events which led to the birth of Christ. 
"We start preparation for the Live Nativity weeks in advance and it takes the whole church participating to make it a success," she said. "There is such excitement around this event within our church its humbling to watch as both the youngest to the oldest dedicate hours to bring the Christmas story to life. There are seven scenes again this year including a live market place where you can catch a glimpse of a carpenter hard at work and live animals being led through the city streets."
Sharps said the activity is an ideal way to witness to the community. 
"Middleville Baptist Church is not ashamed to boldly share the hope , love, and joy that only Jesus can bring and that is the best Christmas gift that anyone will ever receive," she said. 
Through the years, the live nativity has grown as scenes have been added – and switched up a little. Members of other area churches assist with the effort. Each year, more and more people enjoy it all, Boyles said.
“People come back year after year and say it doesn’t feel like Christmas until they go through the drive-through nativity,” she said. “For many people, it’s a tradition. And each year, we get new people too.” 
Middleville Baptist Church is located on Middleville Road, off U.S. Route 50 East, just past Maple Lake. Follo

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