Living Nativity goes on even in tough economic times

While the economy has everyone, including churches, thinking about how to save money, First Baptist Church of Maryville opted to keep their annual Living Nativity program in place for the Christmas season.

“Like the rest, we have been struggling with budget concerns and having to cut back, but the Living Nativity is part of what First Baptist is,” said associate pastor Gary Stinnett. “It is something we offer the community, and is one of those traditions. It has grown every year and has a very rich tradition. This is our eighth annual Living Nativity, and it has really grown since the first year Chuck O’Connor, minister of missions, started it.”

The Living Nativity scene is scheduled for Dec. 6 and 7 at the Theater in the Greenbelt Park. “We’re doing six show times a night to accommodate all the people. We begin at 6 p.m. and do it in 30-minute increments,” he said.

The theater is used for the Nativity scene and the pavilion is used as a staging area for people to wait before going over to the Nativity scene. At the pavilion, volunteers bring coffee, hot chocolate and deserts for guests to enjoy. “We consider it a gift to the community,” Stinnett said. “We have people involved from young children to our senior adults. It encompasses our whole church.”

The animals in the living nativity scene help make the show realistic. The day of the nativity scene, a tractor trailer pulls into the church parking lot with the donkeys, camels and other animals for the show. “We try as close as we can to make the live animals fit the story of what you would expect to be hanging around a manger,” Stinnett said. “Animals are a neat part of it.”

Stinnett said there is parking at the theater and overflow parking at the church across East Lamar Alexander Parkway. “We have security folks that get people across the street safely,” he said.

The Living Nativity is a walk through scene and guests are asked to get a free ticket before entering. This allows the church to keep track of attendance. Tours through the Living Nativity begin at 6 p.m. and go through every 30 minutes. For those arriving early, they can relax at the pavilion, which is also decorated like a market place from Biblical times.

Stinnett praised the work O’Connor has done on the Living Nativity and said he brought it to Maryville after seeing it done successfully at another church. Stinnett also recognized O’Connor’s assistant, Emily Byrd, for her hard work in making the Living Nativity happen each year.

Other events at First Baptist Maryville include:

At 10:50 a.m. on Dec. 14, the musical program “Back to a Reason” will be held. It includes all of sanctuary choir, the Soul Café Praise Team, the Sanctuary Handbells, the orchestra and the Drama Team.

At 4 and 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 the church will hold a candlelight service with the theme, “The Reason.”

Broadway Baptist

2339 E. Broadway Avenue, Maryville

865-982-6012

At 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 14, the Christmas comedy entitled “A TV Christmas” will be held at the church. The program has music and skits and is 45 minutes long.

Fairview United Methodist

2508 Old Niles Ferry Road, Maryville

865-983-2080

Island Christmas - 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3 in the Gym; experience the joy of hearing the church’s youngest members present their holiday musical about giving.

Moravian Love Feast - 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 in the sanctuary; the Youth Choir, Band and Strings offer a special time of solitude in this busy holiday season to enjoy Christmas music, a light dessert and hot chocolate. This simple service is a time of devotional thought through music.

The Word Became Flesh - 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14 in the sanctuary; the Adult Choir joined by the Orchestra, Dance Team, Youth Choir and Children’s Choir presents a traditional Christmas message through song, dance and word. Using Christmas carols, the musicians and dancers tell the story of Jesus’ birth.

Appalachian Christmas - 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21 in the sanctuary; enjoy an evening of our Appalachian heritage with toe-tapping Blue Grass music, storytelling and a special nativity Christmas story presented by the children of the church.

Christmas Eve Services - 7, 9 and 11 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24 in the sanctuary; at 7 and 11 p.m. the traditional candlelight worship services led by the church’s choirs and orchestra focus on carols, scripture and communion. For a time of quiet reflection, everyone is invited to attend Holy Communion from 9 to 10 p.m. in the peace of the sanctuary.

Dotson Memorial Baptist

814 Dotson Memorial Road, Maryville

865-984-9240

Sunday Dec. 7 - The preschool and children’s choir musical program at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 17 -- “Noel, Night of Everlasting Love” at 6:30 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 21, by the sanctuary choir.

Monte Vista Baptist Church

1735 Old Niles Ferry Road, Maryville

865-982-6070

Saturday Dec. 6 - Single Adult Holiday Fellowship Meal in the fellowship hall; dinner is at 5 p.m. with a family Christmas movie at 6 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 30 - The Sights, Sounds, and the Tastes of Christmas; the Greening of the Sanctuary at 6 p.m. The Tastes of Christmas in the church fellowship hall following the service.

Sunday, Dec. 7 - Adult Christmas Choir presents A Festival of Carols at 6 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 14 - Children’s Choir Christmas Program at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5 p.m.

First Maryville United Methodist

804 Montvale Station Road, Maryville

865-982-1273

Sunday, Nov. 30 - Hanging of the Greens - Christmas symbols and traditions are explained as the Chrismon tree lights are turned on and the church is decorated for the season. Special music will be presented by various choirs in each service. 8:15 a.m. Morning Glory Worship; 10:30 a.m. The Crossing contemporary worship and 10:30 a.m. traditional worship.

Sunday, Dec. 7 - Christmas Fun Night - 5 to 7 p.m. The entire family is invited to enjoy soup or chili, make Christmas crafts and visit the display of nativity scenes from around the world. The event will be held in Asbury Hall (gym).

Sunday, Dec. 7 - 8:15 a.m. - “Candles and Carols,” a Christmas cantata with narration telling the story of the birth of Christ, presented by the Morning Glory Chorus with piano and harp accompaniment.

Saturday, Dec. 13 - 6 p.m. and on Sunday Dec. 14 at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. - “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” is a collection of best loved Christmas carols presented by the Chancel Choir with orchestra, pipe organ, handbells and dancers. The Saturday evening presentation will be taped by WBIR-TV Channel 10 for airing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Wednesday, Dec. 24 - 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. - candlelight communion.

New Providence Presbyterian

703 W. Broadway Ave., Maryville

865-983-0182

Nov. 30 - 5 p.m. Hanging of the Greens Service.

Dec. 14 - Chancel choir cantata; 6 p.m., Round the Table Carol Sing.

Dec. 21 - 5 p.m. Service of Memory and Hope; 5:30 p.m. Christmas caroling to shut ins.

Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve - 5 p.m. Family Service with Communion; 7 p.m. Service of Candlelight, Lessons & Carols with Communion; 11 p.m. Service of Candlelight, Carols & Communion

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