Every year, a group of Greenwood volunteers spend the days before Christmas making sure they have the animals they need, getting together costumes and putting the final touches on their manger scene.
Putting together a live Nativity each year takes weeks and sometimes months of work. This year, for example, Ron Bray and several other friends built a whole new manger scene to replace the one they’d been using for about 10 years.
And they still had to do all the other work to organize the annual event that draws hundreds to First Baptist Church of Greenwood.
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But if they can inspire someone with their Nativity scene tonight, that is what really matters, Bray said.
“If we can only touch one person, as a Christian, we’ve done our job,” he said.
The Nativity scene is an annual tradition for the Greenwood church that draws a big crowd each year.
Last year, about 370 cars came through in about two hours. And organizers noticed that nearly every car heading east on Greenwood’s busy Main Street turned into their parking lot to check out the scene, Bray said.
With thousands of vehicles traveling that stretch of road, organizers hope to attract even more this year, Bray said.
One big change is a new manger scene that Bray and several other volunteers built this year. The former scene was about 10 years old and had tons of nail and screw holes from all the times it had been taken apart and put back together, he said.
The new scene uses hinges and hooks so it can be more easily put together and taken apart without needing to put in new screws each time, he said.
The group used a miniature manger scene as a model for the life-size set, working to recreate the distressed barn wood to make the scene look as it would have 2,000 years ago, Bray said. The cost of the new scene was about $170 for materials, along with lots of volunteer hours, he said.
Bray, who has been helping organize the live Nativity for about 10 years, gets involved as one way to give back to his community, he said.
Multiple church members also get involved, from securing the goat, donkey and sheep, to the teens who serve as actors, to the costumes and the refreshments for the actors and the people who stop in.
Drivers can drive through the church parking lot to see the Nativity scene tonight, or they can stop in and visit.
The church puts on the event each year, as long as the weather allows, Bray said. A few years ago, it was cancelled due to the weather, which was hugely disappointing, he said.
Bray loves seeing the church youth get involved, and spreading the message of what the Christmas season is really supposed to be about, which can be overlooked with shopping and gifts, he said.
“We want to show what Christmas really is,” he said.
A Greenwood church is hosting a live Nativity scene tonight.
When: 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: First Baptist Church of Greenwood, 99 W. Main St., Greenwood.
What: Drivers can drive through the church parking lot to see the scene, or can stop by the church for refreshments.