Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Bethlehem tells Christmas story

Bethlehem churches make the most of the name of their suburb to tell the Christmas story.

The area's annual walk-through Christmas production, Road to Bethlehem, kicked off last night at the Adventist School in Moffat Rd, Bethlehem.

Tauranga Seventh-day Adventist Church is hosting the show for the fourth year with the help of other local churches.

Organising committee member Amie West said rehearsals and preparation for the production began in October.

"It's just a way for the church to reach out to the community and tell the Christmas story. It's quite appropriate that we're in Bethlehem," she said.

Visitors are guided through the 40-minute tale by a family who are also on their way to Bethlehem.

"It's a play. There's a few different scenes. Instead of the scenes changing, you walk through the different scenes," Miss West said.

About 180 people are involved in organising and acting in the show.

Grace Community Church pastor Kevin Connole has been involved from the start and is one of the Josephs in this year's performance.

"Last year I directed the Herod scene but this year we had a need for some more Josephs so I've stepped into that role," he said.

Mr Connole had never acted before he got involved in the show but said he enjoyed the experience and was looking forward to his new role.

"It's a nice part to be playing. There's lots of different emotions involved," Mr Connole said.

He had been looking for a way to make the most of the suburb's name to tell the story of Christ's birth so he jumped at the chance to get involved in Road to Bethlehem.

Last year more than 3500 people came out to the free production across the four nights and Mr Connole was hoping for an even bigger crowd this year.

Road to Bethlehem is on until Wednesday night at the Adventist School, 19 Moffat Rd, Bethlehem.

The free shows run every 10 minutes between 6.30 and 9.45pm, with a duration of about 40 minutes.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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