From staff and press reports
For three decades, church members of Flower Ridge United Methodist Church and other volunteers have braved wind chills, rainy nights, the occasional snow, and much more to bring to the community a heartwarming Living Nativity.
“We have had the Drive Thru on cold nights, hot nights, drizzle, snow, windy, and sleet,” stated Beth Hemphill, a Drive Thru volunteer.
The 30th annual celebration and performance of the Living Nativity Drive Thru is set for Saturday, Dec 22 and Sunday, Dec. 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. While much has changed since that first performance in 1982 the meaning of the event and some of the faces in the event have not changed.
“Flower Ridge UMC has been putting on this event for 30 straight years and some of those participating did so as children in the very first one and are still participating as adults,” said Rev. Mike Dowd in a letter about the event.
“The Youth Group that started with the Drive Thru have grown and started families of their own. It is with this second generation that we carry on this tradition,” stated Beth Hemphill.
In the drive thru the story of Jesus’ birth unfolds before the attendees’ eyes from the Angel appearing to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wisemen traveling to see the newborn king. From those first storyboards of key scenes in 1982, the process and scenes have grown as the group learned something new at each event.
In the first year lights to line the drive were paper bags with dirt and candles which changed to milk jugs with dirt and candles. But with some jugs catching fire each year, the group moved to LED lights to line the drive in 2011. Also, in 2011, they added a new scene and changed how the scenes were lined up. The added scene depicts the Angel appearing to Joseph as he dreamed.
Each year the drive thru’s last scene is Mary and Joseph in the stables with the Baby Jesus. Those driving thru the scenes may witness a seamless interpretation of the nativity but according to Hemphill some great stories have come from those volunteering at the event.
“We have many stories about the Drive Thru over the years. We have had the Wise Men missing only to be found in the shepherds’ scene getting warmed by the fire or the Angel missing from the first scene. Everyone who comes to us for the first time is usually not sure what to think but by the end of the first night they want to make sure that they are in the same scene on the second night,” stated Hemphill.
Flower Ridge United Methodist Church is located just south of Louisville on Hwy 15 and admission is free and donations are welcome. The church members invite all to come witness the story of Jesus’ birth.
“We have had fun doing this for the community. It is a joy to see the Church come together for this special time,” stated Hemphill.
It is a joy the church aims to share with all through the Living Nativity.
“The Methodist County Ministry believes the dedication and hard work members of Flower Ridge put into this even make it note worthy,” said Mike Dowd.
For more information on the event or Flower Ridge UMC contact Beth Hemphill at 662-803-6621 or Bro. Larry Haggard at 662-773-6910.