RACINE — For more than 10 years, a local church has offered area residents a unique way to observe the Christmas holiday.

RACINE — For more than 10 years, a local church has offered area residents a unique way to observe the Christmas holiday.

Marking the event’s 12th year now, the Racine Christian Church will host the Journey to Bethlehem, scheduled nightly from Thursday, Dec. 5, through Saturday, Dec. 7.
The event takes attendees on a journey similar to the path Mary and Joseph could have traveled on their way to Bethlehem.

“We have the wise men, and there’s scribes, angels and then we have several different scenes along the way,” said Racine Christian Church Worship Minister Darrin Brower. “We have a lot of animals that are in the journey, we have a camel, that’s always a lot of fun for everyone.”

Brower said doors open at 5:30 p.m. nightly, with the event running from 6 to 9 p.m. each night.
There is no admission fee and the event is open to all members of the public.

Brower said attendees will first be invited into the church auditorium for an hour of Christmas music, dance, and drama.

Groups will then depart on the trail, which takes about 45 minutes to complete, Brower said.
He said the path is meant to mimic the journey Mary and Joseph took to register for the census in Bethlehem.

“So your group that goes out will actually be your family and there’s a couple that will be leading you through the whole thing,” Brower said.

The leaders narrate as they walk along the trail, stopping several times along the way at different stations featuring different scenes that may have been encountered on the original journey.
Brower said each station will also offer a fire, to help warm the travelers on their way.
The trail wraps up by going through the Bethlehem City Square and then eventually ending at the stables where the travelers will find Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus.

“We want it to be our gift to the four-state area for Christmas,” Brower said. “The main reason we do it is because we want to promote the true original Christmas story which is the birth of Christ and the gift, so it’s just a really good way to start out the Christmas season, focusing in on the right things.”

Brower said the public is welcome to attend, and noted the growth the event has experienced over the years, attracting thousands each year.

“Last year we had almost 7,000 people in the three-day event,” Brower said. “But it grows every year. This year we’re anticipating 9,000 to 10,000 people.”

Brower said he, along with Scott and Judy Hall of Neosho, are the event’s main organizers.

For more information, contact the church at 501-5821.

The Racine Christian Church is located 10 minutes west of Neosho, on Missouri Highway 86.