WECA – Bethlehem Walk
This morning I was afforded a great treat. The Edmonton Foodbank invited me to a media op at West Edmonton Christian Assembly for the official opening of their exhibit, Bethlehem Walk. What an experiance it was.
In a day and age when most people are afraid to mention the Christ child as the principle purpose for celebrating Christmas, and many won’t even call it Christmas, West Edmonton Christian Assembly has created an awesome re-enactment of the nativity story. This exhibit, rife with amazing actors, young and old, brings to life the scene that would have greeted Mary and Joseph when they arrived in Bethlehem for the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. WECA has recreated the market centre of Bethlehem, complete with merchant stalls, fields on the outskirts of town, stables and, of course, the full Inn, in their gymnasium.
As you arrive for the Bethlehem Walk, you sit in a field on the outskirts of town. An introduction of the exhibit is given followed by the Christmas angel descending from the sky. A choir of angels then blasts out a modern, pentecostal type Christmas song. At this point the doors to Bethlehem are thrown open and you step into a scene from taken from a history of some 2016 years in the past.
From the cross and wood carving shop, to the Roman jail, and a mill in which real olives are turned into olive oil and wheat into flour, the realism shows the creators of this exhibition have done their homework. I noted a couple of things that take away from the authenticity of the exhibit, but I was looking for them when most folks wouldn’t. If you can ignore the “made in pakistan” stamp on the mortar and pestle at the spice shop, and the pumped in lullaby music at the manger, you’ve got it made. I questioned the gentleman acting the part of the High Priest of the Jewish temple about his garb. He was remarkably well read on the subject, to the point he even explained the difficulty in creating the costume when there are differing Jewish opinions on the makeup of the breastplate and the length of the robes. Note: The Torah would never be removed from the temple unless it was accompanied by a quarum of Jewish men, 13 years of age or over. Children acting out many of roles are also well versed in the history of what they are acting out.
The fishmonger has real smoked fish on his table, the chicken butcher has live chickens. There are stables that will have animals in them when the exhibit officially opens to the public. If you have a good nose you will smell the frankincense and myrhh at the spice table. You will definitely smell the smoked fish and the remnants of that which exits the rear end of a chicken. Fear not, it all adds to the realism that is the Bethlehem Walk.
After spending time in the Little Town of Bethlehem, those attending the Bethlehem Walk make their way back in to the auditorium of WECA. the auditorium has been decked out in dinner theatre style, with tables containing cookies and a little something to sip, all FREE! While enjoying some refreshments there will be live music and such taking place on the stage.
All in all, this is a great experience for anyone of any religion or cultural background.
Edmonton has many great exhibits during this time of year. Among these is Candy Cane Lane, The Christmas lights at the Legislature, Maisie’s Magical Christmas House, and now Bethlehem Walk. Pastor David Wood, the executive director of the exhibit, says the Bethlehem Walk is WECA’s gift to the City of Edmonton. It is an opportunity for Edmontonians to experience first-hand the story of the Nativity as set out in the book of Luke, Chapter 2.
There is no cost to experience the Bethlehem Walk. A donation to the Edmonton Foodbank from people attending the exhibit would be appreciated. Make an evening of enjoying this amazing exhibit. The experience is definitely family oriented. Kids of all ages will enjoy the experience!! This kid is going back again!!
Bethlehem Walk Dates
Doors Open 6:00 pm – Last Admission 9:00 pm
Come early to wait inside.
The show runs continuously, so there is no need to worry about missing the 6:00 o’clock door opening.
Find all the information you need HERE
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I enjoyed the show so much, when I had an opportunity to see it a second time I jumped at the chance. The actual show for the general public is by and far better than the show for the media. I am so glad I attended a second time. I had a chance to meet with Dave Wood, Senior Associate Pastor of WECA. We had a great chat, shared some statistics, talked a little religion and shared some humour. I am blessed to have had this opportunity.
A couple of interesting stats. Opening day saw The Bethlehem Walk double it’s anticipated attendance. They had over 2700 participants on Friday night. Saturday night they extened their hours due to the onslaught of people arriving to see the show! I will provide totals for the Edmonton Foodbank at a later date. I know they are beating their food donation targets by big numbers. Fill-Up and Marjorie were at the event on Saturday night as well as Tamara and Debbie. Way to go WECA.
These pictures are from the actual show.
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Download all images in single zipfile (843 Mb)
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Copyright ©2010-2011 West Edmonton Christian Assembly and John R. Winslow