Back in time to Bethlehem

Calvary Baptist Church’s dramatic nativity play ‘Bethlehem Live’ is back


The donkeys and sheep are booked, the costumes are hung, and the middle-eastern marketplace set is nearly complete.

It’s all part of ‘Bethlehem Live – Rebellion,’ a dramatic presentation of the nativity story being hosted by members of the congregation of the Calvary Baptist Church in Killarney.

It’s the second year the group has organized the remarkable play, which runs for two evenings, and they are spiritually fired up for the challenge after enjoying overwhelming success during last Christmas’ efforts.

“Last year the line-up was from the front door of the church, and all the way across the street and into the Co-op parking lot,” said Corrie Wiesner, who is directing the play. “We had over 500 people attend over the two nights.”

This year’s tale includes elements of civil resistance, said Wiesner, who wrote the script together with her husband Grant.

“It’s kind of a dramatic re-enactment of the Christmas story, and the birth of Jesus Christ,” said Wiesner. “The play is meant to be inspirational, with a message of hope. This year the theme is one of rebellion. Rebellion against the Roman oppression of the Jews. We have a character, Joshua, and he escorts the groups of visitors through the story itself. As they go through the sets, they meet the shepherds, and an angel. And we will have the two donkeys, they are back from last year, and four or five sheep. There is also an angel choir, the Bethlehem marketplace, centurions and a rebel army, and of course the baby Jesus. Plus there’s a bit of a surprise ending.”

Most of the church’s congregation of around 60 members have become involved in some way with the play, including a small group of talented seamstresses, who have been working hard down in the church basement, quietly creating over 100 wonderful costumes for the vibrant event.

And just in case they see the same rush of theatre-goers as last time, the group is making preparations.

“People will start inside the church,” said Wiesner. “They begin by registering, and we will be creating groups of 10 to 15 visitors to go through the tour, each with one of our four ‘Joshuas,’ which takes around 25 minutes. They will register with the census, like Joseph and Mary, and everyone will receive a ‘gold coin’ to pay their taxes. And while people are waiting in the church for their turn to go, we will have coffee and tea and cookies and dainties, and games and activities for the kids.”

Bethlehem Live: Rebellion is a free event, and will run on Friday and Saturday evening, November 29 and 30, at the Calvary Baptist Church, at 310 Mountain Avenue, Killarney (behind the Co-op Gas Bar). 

Tours run every 15 minutes, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The last tour is at 8:15 p.m.

Below are photos from last year’s Bethlehem Live.

A walk-along event that will lead you on a journey through the very first Christmas…

A CHRISTMAS TOUR – Actors at Killarney’s Calvary Baptist Church in 2018 hosted the first Bethlehem Live, with more than 500 people attending over the two nights.