Monday, December 15, 2008

Visit Bethlehem village at Afton ... the Bethlehem Project

A tradition and an experience that takes us back in time 2,000 years to the birth of Christ ... from The Bethlehem Project website:

Imagine a little village that existed long before colored lights, reindeer, or Santa Claus. Roman Soldiers walk the streets, Wise Men appear with their camels, shop keepers are going about their everyday lives yet this village is on the brink of something immense, the birth of one who would forever change the course of human history. Experience this village as it really was. Come to Bethlehem and see for yourself the magic and wonder of the first Christmas.

Step back in time as you enter the gates of Bethlehem of Judea. The Roman emperor has issued an order that a census be taken throughout the Empire and every citizen must register. On a cold winter’s night you are traveling streets illuminated by torchlight, wandering deeper into the heart of a village where cautious Roman soldiers patrol the crowd, Wise men, shepherds, livestock are among the many passersby, shops and shopkeepers inhabit a bustling marketplace, and welcoming cheer abounds. Now, far away from the tinseled trees and crowded malls that most commonly usher in the Christmas holiday season, this is an event no one should miss.

Open daily Friday, December 19 thru Tuesday, December 23, from 6-9 pm. Admission is free to the public. Donations are accepted for the Village and Restaurant to help with costs. Gift shop.

Hispanic Tour: This year we will have a guided tour in Spanish starting at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 23.

Communion Service: Join us for Communion in the Village on Tuesday, December 23, at 8:30 pm.

Special Afternoon Hours: This year we will open at 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 21 (one day only) to allow visitors to enjoy the Village during day light hours.

Location: We are located near the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia just minutes from Interstates 64 and 81. Our street address is:

Hebron Baptist Church
66 Tanbark Drive
Afton, Va. 22920
Click here for a map to Hebron Baptist Church. For more information call (540)456-6863.

Background: The Bethlehem Village Project is a community effort of local churches and friends from the Afton, Waynesboro and Charlottesville, Virginia, area. The village is located on the grounds of Hebron Baptist Church in Afton, Virginia, and is maintained by the generous efforts of this fellowship.

History: Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains a highly dedicated group of volunteers is transporting delighted spectators back to the 1st century with one of the longest continuous running "Village of Bethlehem" productions in the country. The Bethlehem Project was conceived in 1999 by Rev. Jim Ailor (Hebron Baptist Church pastor at the time), who, having studied a miniature model of Bethlehem and the nativity, decided to recreate historic Bethlehem for people to experience firsthand. He rallied members of Hebron and surrounding churches together to create a temporary village during those first few years. It began with just a few shops and characters in the parking lot of the church. Each year the village was erected and dismantled for the event.

In 2004 Hebron Baptist donated land to allow the village to be constructed as a permanent collection of buildings and stables. It continues to grow each year in its scope and dramatic portrayals while still maintaining the authentic feel of a small village around the 1st century.

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