While Santa and the Sugar Plum Fairy are prominent parts of the Christmas season, area churches are bringing home the religious aspects of this festive time with various events.
Here is a look at several across Downstate:
Step back in time as the live Nativity portrayal of the birth of baby Jesus in Bethlehem returns to the circular heart of Sussex County for a third consecutive Christmas season.
Four evenings — Dec. 17, 18, 19 and 23 — comprise the Nativity schedule on The Circle for the large, mobile stable, which was built by volunteers and made its debut in 2020. The Nativity will run from 6:30 to 8 those nights.
Thursday, Dec. 23, will feature a special candlelight event as an eve of Christmas Eve service, said K.C. Conaway, one of the event organizers.
Area churches are participating. The schedule is Georgetown First Baptist Church (Pastor Woody Bates) Dec. 17; Discover Church (Pastor Curtis Jones) Dec. 19, and Central Worship Center Dec. 23, with Pastor Tim Dukes conducting the candlelight service.
The participating church/churches for Dec. 18 will be announced.
Nightly programs will feature musical entertainment and free hot chocolate and cookies.
In the past two years, the live Nativity has drawn large crowds. This holiday spectacular is community-driven and was spearheaded by the Good Ole Boy Foundation, founded in efforts to unite resources, assist families in time of unforeseen difficulties and better the community.
In honor of the Christmas season, organizers will be accepting donations for two organizations.
“We are once again asking for donations for the Sussex County Pregnancy Care Center and the Sussex County Foster Parent Association,” said Mr. Conaway.
Immediate needs include:
• New, unwrapped toys and books for all ages,
• Diapers, pull-ups and wipes,
• Boys’ and girls’ winter clothing, sizes 18 months to 2T.
Donations can be dropped off each night at the Nativity.
Additional information can be found here.
Journey to Bethlehem
Again this year, Beacon Baptist Church in Millville is the venue for Journey to Bethlehem, which portrays the true meaning of Christmas — the birth of Jesus Christ.
The event is scheduled for Dec. 10, 11 and 12, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the church grounds on Del. 26.
Geared as a free family event, the walk-through live Nativity features a re-enactment by church members in period costume. There will also be a petting farm with animals, hayrides and refreshments.
The Wesley United Methodist Church Chancel Choir will perform “The Christmas Story: A Classic Carol Celebration” on Sunday at 9:45 am.
This blend of carols is the retelling of the Christmas story with a promise of joy, faith, and love composed by Thomas Fettke and arranged by Thomas Grassi.
The choral performance and service will be held in the historic Wesley United Methodist Church sanctuary at 209 S. State St. in downtown Dover.
For more information about this event and other activities at Wesley United Methodist Church, visit here, on Facebook at WesleyUMCDover, or call 302-678-9826.
Ewell’s-St. Paul UMC
Ewell’s-St. Paul United Methodist Church in Smyrna will present a drive-by version of “Silent Night, Holy Night - A Live Nativity” Dec. 9-11 from 6 to 8 p.m. It will take place on the church lawn on Peach Alley.
Drivers will begin at the Providence Creek Academy entrance off Duck Creek Parkway and guides will be there to direct.
Monetary donations for the Smyrna-Clayton Ministerium Community Outreach will be accepted.
Mariners Bethel UMC
On Friday, Dec. 17, Mariners Bethel United Methodist Church of Ocean View will present its annual outdoor live Nativity — a tradition that has been ongoing for at least 23 years.
This family-friendly event features the Christmas story told every half-hour with live, period-dressed performers — but no animals — from 6 to 8 p.m. on the church grounds at 81 Central Ave. in Ocean View.
“There is music. They recite different scriptures. They tell the story of the birth of Jesus,” said Cindy Hawkins, Mariners Bethel UMC administrative assistant.
There will be Christmas carols and refreshments, including hot chocolate and individually packaged cookies.
In the event of inclement weather, the live Nativity will be held indoors.
“If there really is terrible weather, we’ll have it indoors,” said Ms. Hawkins. “But we’ve got a pretty hardy group. We’ve done it in some pretty nasty weather outside before.”
For more information, contact the church at 302-539-9510 or visit here.
Milford Church of God
Milford Church of God will hold an outdoor concert and live Nativity Dec. 10 and 11.
There will be two nights of music with the church choir and visit with the animals from 6 to 8 p.m. Rain date is Dec. 12.
Milford Church of God is at 500 N Walnut St. For more information, visit here.