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Live Nativity at East Newton Baptist
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When East Newton Baptist Church presents its production of "Bethlehem: A Live Nativity" Dec. 8, no one involved in the production, not the church’s pastor, Tom Lee, nor the 25 cast members, nor the army of church volunteers who have worked to bring together the drama, will be the least bit surprised or upset if the youngest cast member goes a little "off script.’’

Since church member Lori Young, who is playing the role of Mary this year, recently had a baby, there will be a "real live baby’’ and "real baby sounds’’ in the manger, Pastor Lee said, lending even more poignancy to the story of Christ’s birth.

East Newton Baptist has been staging a live Nativity for seven years, and this year’s production, a 35-40 minute outdoor drama, will be presented for only one evening, Dec. 8, but with two shows, at 6 and 7:30 p.m. There is seating for 200, Lee said, and those attending are also welcome to bring chairs and blankets. Lighted pathways will guide visitors to the stage area, and there will be a golf cart to assist those who might have trouble walking.

In addition to its human cast, "Bethlehem’’ will feature five horses, a donkey, sheep and goats to bring the manger alive for audience members of all ages. Children will also get an opportunity to see the animals up close, Lee said.

The church’s aim in presenting "Bethlehem: A Live Nativity’’ can best be summed up in a letter that Lee says he received once from a grandmother who had brought her grandchildren to the church’s holiday production.

Far from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and bundled up against the winter chill, the writer’s grandchildren came to understand "what Christmas is really all about,’’ she told Lee.

"Christmas is still about Jesus Christ,’’ Lee said.

East Newton Baptist Church is at 11290 U.S. Highway 278.