Since 1981, Susquehanna Grace Community Church, a Charis Fellowship congregation in Wrightsville, Pa., has held a “Road to Bethlehem” live nativity. A few women from the church lead 70 volunteers with the goal of bringing the entire community an experience that will teach them about Scripture and the birth of the Savior.
People drive the Road to Bethlehem on the church’s property through each step of Luke 2, including scenes with Caesar, the angels, the wise men, and Mary and Joseph. Participants can also walk a lighted path to see live animals.
“The effort people put into making this happen was huge, and as a pastor I am so thankful and proud,” shares Gordi McIlroy, senior pastor at Susquehanna Grace (SGCC).
Visitors were also provided with church information and were welcomed into the church for free cookies and music. The music featured a few musicians, including the Susquehanna Travelers, a local band known for their Irish and folk music, and Emily Aziza, a harpist from Lancaster, Pa., who has played professionally for 10 years.
The church also collected food and donations for Hearts for Hunger, a food pantry based in nearby Pleasant View Church.
“By the end of the night we had enough food to fill an entire Jeep and had raised $1,888 for the ministry. It was beautiful to partner with Pleasant View Church and see the community impacted physically and spiritually for good. As a pastor I was so proud to step back and watch the church body playing their part in making this a success. We had more than 400 cars come through the event and more than 1,200 people come and see the birth of Jesus,” McIlroy says. “I cannot put into words the comradery you feel after such an awesome event. I can’t wait until next year.”
SGCC also saw several new faces come the Sunday after the event. Robby Marquette, worship leader at SGCC, recounts this night one year ago that changed his own life.
He shares, “I moved to Wrightsville in 2009. I bounced from church to church on Sunday mornings for seven years, looking for a new church home. Last Christmas season, I happened to drive past SGCC the evening they were holding the Road to Bethlehem. For some reason, I felt compelled to check it out. It was nicely done and meaningful, but it was the people and the welcome I received at the conclusion of my drive-through that really caught my attention. The warmth, the sincerity, and the obvious commitment to serving Christ and the community stuck with me. Over the next year, I returned several times for Sunday services, and I soon realized I had found that home I had been searching for all those years. SGCC is now where I worship, serve, and share my gifts.”
Undoubtedly, the congregation counts this year’s event as an eternal success.
“This event really shows the communities of Wrightsville and York the true meaning of Christmas, how Jesus came down as love to save His people. And it glorifies God when we, His Church, work together as a family of believers. I am so thankful to be part of a church where all ages are coming together to play their part in lifting the name of Jesus higher this Christmas season.”
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