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Bethlehem reenactment at Rusk County church takes visitors back in time

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 2:40 PM CST
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RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Normally it’s a rodeo arena, but for the next few days it’s Bethlehem.

The Bar None Cowboy Church, located between Henderson and Tatum at 9162 State Highway 43, is taking visitors back in time 2,000 years to the birth of Christ with a family-friendly event with plenty for the kids to do. Admission is free.

The reproduction of Bethlehem takes up the arena, and according to Jennifer Sprayberry, Coordinator of the Bethlehem Team, the production has grown over the last three years.

“We have created this wonderful marketplace and what it might have looked like in the time of his birth, to bring your family for people to enjoy and have a fun family event. But also teach people that this is why we celebrate Christmas, this is what it’s about, and it is about the birth of Jesus,” Sprayberry said.

Visitors walk through the front archway where they are greeted by the census takers.

“You have to go through them first. And so they’re going to take your name and ask you where you’re from and you’ll get a map of Bethlehem and you’ll get to walk around the marketplace,” Sprayberry said.

And there are plenty of animals like donkeys, and of course Bethlehem residents on hand.

“We have over 120 people in costume,” Sprayberry said.

And at least three donkeys. There is a stand with fresh baked unleavened bread, a potter, candlemaker, and even a carpenter played by Billy Hughes, although he doesn’t just play at carpentry.

“I’ve helped build a lot of the sets that you’ll see tonight, with a good team,” Hughes said.

And he’ll help kids build little wooden crosses, whether they have donkeys or not, as well as demonstrate raw woodworking, which is one way they try and make things as close to biblical times as they can.

“Make it as realistic as possible,” Hughes said.

And once the kids make some pottery, eat some bread, experience woodworking, see a donkey and a camel that doesn’t spit, and more, the family can take a stroll past the Ten Commandments, see the cross of the crucifixion and on to the tomb of the resurrection.

“And that way it takes you through the whole Gospel,” Sprayberry said.

And that may take a couple trips to fully experience since this little town of Bethlehem isn’t really that little. And don’t forget to pet the donkey.

Bethlehem is open beginning Friday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 5 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with free admission.

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