FORT WAYNE, Ind. - "Welcome to the Judean Hills Touring Company. We have a special going on this weekend. It's called the Walk to Bethlehem," proclaimed Judy Church, getting into character for her role in the Walk to Bethlehem interactive tour held yearly at First Christian Church.
Church is one of the tour guides. She's helped organize the event for about 20 years. "It's the story of the birth of Jesus in living color and very interactive," said Church. "People can come and see the scenes of the story outside the building, experience the inside marketplace as it was about 2,000 years ago and then finish the experience by going to the sanctuary to pray and reflect on the experience."
Members of First Christian have been busy setting up the event. "I've been doing this for 20 years," said John Ohneck, as he drilled part of the outdoor nativity scene into place. Ohneck has dedicated time and elbow grease to transform the church's yard, parking lot, basement and more. "It's fascinating to see the little kids and even the looks on the faces of individuals who participate," said Ohneck.
"I helped with the nativity scene outside," said Canterbury student Delores Federspiel. "I was Mary for awhile and that was an interesting part. It was fun."
"There are several communities in Fort Wayne from different countries and different languages," said First Christian Pastor Dan Bair. "This year something new that we're trying to incorporate is having an interpreter go around with these groups from different countries telling them the story of Walk to Bethlehem in their own language."
There are a total of six stops on the walk. "We do have live animals," said Church. "We have a donkey in scene three and we have sheep in scene four. The complete tour is about 20 minutes and oh did I mention it's free? It's absolutely free."
"It just focuses you for the whole season and makes you feel like you have accomplished what December and Christmas are supposed to accomplish in your heart by worshipping the reason for it," said Church. "It is very positive. Nothing could be more positive than that when it is surrounded by love, joy, peace and hope."
Walk to Bethlehem is a free event presented with the help of friends and members of First Christian Church. It will be held December 8 and 9, 2018, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 4800 S. Calhoun Street in Fort Wayne. Tours are scheduled approximately every 10 minutes. For more information call 260-744-3239.