Live Oak United Methodist Church in White Oak will truly come “alive” Dec. 12-13 when the church presents a live nativity scene entitled “A Journey to Bethlehem.”{mosimage}
    Sixty to 65 actors will portray characters from the birth of Christ — a portrayal that attracted more than 1,000 visitors last year.                                                                                                                                                                “This is the fourth year we’ve done this and it has really grown,” said Karen Valenzuela, a member of Live Oak United Methodist Church, and the brain trust behind the event, which is not held at the church, but on the grounds of her family farm.
    “It came from a dream,” said Valenzuela. “We have about 50-60 acres on our family farm and we thought it would be a great place to have a live nativity. So from that we took it to our church and our church said ‘yes, let’s try it.’”
    The story of the nativity is spread across nine stations, with groups of actors portraying such scenes as the angel Gabriel telling Mary she will have a child, as well as the scene in which Joseph and Mary are turned away from the inn.
    Church members portray the characters, and church members also sewed the costumes and built the nine stations that make up the presentation.
    “It gives you a place to go where you can reflect on the true meaning of the season,” said Valenzuela. “We spend so much time in the hustle and bustle that we forget the reason for Christmas.”
The event is free, though donations are accepted to help put on the event the next year. It is a walking tour and Valenzuela reminds folks to bring a coat.
    “Our actors do get cold just standing there,” said Valenzuela, “but they are all real troopers.”
    A golf cart will be provided for those unable to walk, and there will be hot cider and coffee and homemade cookies available following the tour. You are allowed to take pictures.
    In order to get to the living nativity, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and runs until 8:30 p.m., follow Hwy. 53 South across the Bladen County line and take your first left onto Dennis Harold Simmons Road. There will be luminaries lining the road, which you will follow about 3/4 of a mile to the site. A census taker will greet arrivals and pass out programs.
    “It’’s very easy to get into and out of,” said Valenzuela. “And everyone is welcome to come and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.”

Singing Christmas Tree at Green Springs Baptist Church

    For several years, the Singing Christmas Tree at Green Springs Baptist Church has been a great way to celebrate the Christmas season. The tree, which spans from the floor of the church sanctuary to the top of the ceiling and has thousands of twinkling lights, comes to life as the choir of Green Springs and other community members climb it.
    This year, the choir will present a compilation of Christmas songs around the theme Joy!Joy!Joy! Under the direction of Charles and Laura Stevens, the program will be presented on Friday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. There will be a reception with finger foods following the Friday night presentation.
    The event is free and open to the public. It is requested that attendees bring one canned item as a donation to the Gray’s Creek Christian Center.
    Green Springs Baptist Church is located at 1095 Green Springs Road, off U.S. 301. From Fayetteville, take All American to Owen Drive, turn right on U.S. 301, take the Parkton exit and make a right turn on Green Springs Road. The church is on the right.

The Nutcracker Put on by Fayetteville Dance Theatre

    More than 90 children from age 7 on up to college students will put on the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, Sunday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. at the Garner Historic Auditorium in Garner.
    {mosimage}The musical is performed by the Dance Theatre of Fayetteville — a nonprofit group dedicated to bringing entertainment to the masses. Participants audition for a part in The Nutcracker, which follows the traditional storyline — a fairy tale-ballet in two acts, three scenes, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
    Tickets for the performance are $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-12, and free for children under 4.

A Jazzy Christmas at Highland Presbyterian

    It’s time to get all jazzed up about Christmas.
    In order to help you get into the holiday spirit, Highland Presbyterian Church is presenting a “Jazzy Christmas” featuring members of the church’s choir, as well as the North Carolina Brass Ensemble on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 5 p.m.
    In addition to the choir and brass section, there will be hand bell performances and 60-65 percussionists.     There will be traditional songs given a spiritual, African-American tinged spirit — songs such as “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” as well as traditional Christmas tunes. The event is open to the public and free of charge, though visitors are asked to bring a can of food and/or make a monetary donation to go toward the church’s food pantry.
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