Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster

Bethlehem Recreated in Madisonville Church

return to_Bethlehem_1MADISONVILLE, KY (12/8/12) – Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the 17th annual Return to Bethlehem (RTB) event at First Baptist Church in Madisonville. Donna McMurtrie, Chair of the RTB committee, spoke with SurfKY News today, providing information and history of the event.

“It’s an interpretation of what the city of Bethlehem would have been like on the night Christ was born,” McMurtrie said. There will be a recreation of the city, with 25 shops where the shopkeepers, played by volunteers, will be hard at work crafting their wares.

“At that time, the homes were two stories,” she explained. “The people lived upstairs, and they kept the animals downstairs. That’s basically what people are doing in their shops. They’re selling their wares. There’s pottery, blacksmithing, and carpentry. They’re dying cloth. They’re baking bread. There’s a stone carver. We actually have a fish market with real fish. We have a tanning shop where they tan hides. The shops are a method of interacting with the people, but our main story is that they’ve heard that a baby was born that night.”

McMurtrie said that 500 church members are involved in the effort, including the cast of characters inside city and staff in sanctuary, who will be giving the cast their biblical names and sending them on to orientation where they will learn their roles and what to expect playing the part of shopkeepers, beggars, and other characters from Bethlehem on the night Christ was born.

There is no cost to attend, but beggars will collect donations, which will go to the cost of the event. McMurtrie said that, after 17 years, First Baptist has organizing RTB down to a science, and it only costs the church about $4,000 to put on the event.

“The majority of that is for the animals that we have,” she said. Those who have attended RTB expect to see the menagerie, including the camels that are a favorite of visitors annually. The animals are provided by Jeff Baird of Morganfield, KY. He creates stall in the church’s bus barn to house the camels, and the rest of the animals stay in the city all weekend. “He tends to them every day … but we begin to smell very authentic by Tuesday,” she laughed.

RTB will run from December 8th to the 11th. On Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, the hours are from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. On Sunday, it will be open for two hours from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. Groups of 20 may call and make reservations so they don’t have to wait as long.

“Sometimes the wait can be two hours or more, but we have entertainment going constantly in the sanctuary, so people don’t seem to mind to wait.” She said that community members will be singing and playing piano and there will even be a string quartet pacifying the waiting throngs.

McMurtrie encourages visitors to not wait until the last day, Tuesday, to come to RTB if at all possible, as that seems to be the day with the largest crowds. The busiest year for RTB drew 9,000 visitors, and the event usually averages about 7,500 over the four days it’s held.

“That’s about all we can get through,” McMurtrie said. “We try not to crowd it, and we want them to take their time when they go through the city to absorb it.”

return to_Bethlehem_2Casey Piscitelli
SurfKY News

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

3/13 - 16

Stock Report

1 DOW 17,154.81
+180.50 (1.06%)    
2 S&P 1,990.21
+7.91 (0.40%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,553.52
+4.30 (0.09%)    
3/13 - 16
3/13 - 16

In Other News...

UPDATE: Medical Examiner's Official Report Released in Quadruple Shooting Deaths

UPDATE: CADIZ, Ky. (10/29/14) — Kentucky State Police is continuing its investigation into the deaths of four people… Read More

Governor Beshear Presents Funding for Kuttawa Bike/Ped Trail, Amphitheater at Lake Barkley

KUTTAWA, Ky. (10/29/14) — Governor Steve Beshear today came to Lyon County to ceremonially deliver funding for two… Read More
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

October 29, 2014 8778

UPDATE: Medical Examiner's Official Report…

in Local (Lakes) Top News by Dennis Thomas
October 24, 2014 7562

Central City Man Charged with Sexual Assault on…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Chris Cooper
October 27, 2014 6050

Earlington Woman Charged With Burglary for…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
October 23, 2014 4502

Don Everly to be Part of Rock and Roll Hall of…

in Top News For All Sites by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
October 27, 2014 4326

Baptist Health Madisonville Performs Baptist…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Kristy Quinn
October 28, 2014 3994

UPDATE: 'Runner' Ran Home; Family Happy

in Hopkins News by Lisa Crook
October 29, 2014 3892

UPDATE: Two More Arrested for Meth at Area Motel

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
October 24, 2014 3875

Miners Turn Out in Madisonville for…

in Top News For All Sites by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
October 28, 2014 3342

UPDATE: Extended to Wednesday; Heaven's Gates and…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
October 27, 2014 3309

Woman Charged for Domestic Assault with Scissors,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department

Stories Trending Today

October 29, 2014 8778

UPDATE: Medical Examiner's Official Report…

in Local (Lakes) Top News by Dennis Thomas
October 29, 2014 3892

UPDATE: Two More Arrested for Meth at Area Motel

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
October 29, 2014 2522

Hypodermic Needle Sticking Out of Jacket During…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
October 29, 2014 2232

Pennyrile Gymnastic Team to Perform on 'America's…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
October 29, 2014 2003

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Oct. 29, 2014

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
October 29, 2014 1921

Huge Crowds Visit Uncle Lee’s First Day of…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
October 30, 2014 1805

UPDATE: Missing Elderly Couple Found

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Chief William C. Crider
October 29, 2014 1789

Central City Businessman Indicted by Grand Jury…

in Top News For All Sites by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
October 29, 2014 1633

Trespassing Complaint Ends with Shoplifting Arrest

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
October 29, 2014 1383

Water Main Break Sends Stream Dozens of Feet in…

in Hopkins News by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
Corporate Office & Studio
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431
270.452.2727 (phone)
  •  270.452.2249 (fax)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social fbsocial twsocial yt
social gpsocial flrsocial rss