Living Nativity returning to downtown Kingsport

Matthew Lane • Dec 8, 2019 at 3:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Bethlehem is returning to downtown next weekend.

Now in its third year, Come to Bethlehem: A Living Nativity will be held for one night only on Dec. 15, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. It’s a chance for local residents to experience the majesty of a Nativity with real people and animals.

“It means the world to me,” said Cookie Greer, coordinator of the Nativity. “To be able to have an event where churches come together to make our focus back to the reason we celebrate Christmas.

“It does get cold out there, but your heart is so warm you don’t feel the chill.”

At least 150 volunteers from First Baptist, First Broad and First Presbyterian will participate in event, playing the roles of Mary and Joseph, the Three Wise Men, and Roman soldiers, in addition to serving as greeters and helping with traffic.

On the animal kingdom front, Greer said the display will include a camel from Creation Kingdom Zoo, a flock of sheep from a farm in Boones Creek, a donkey and cow for the stable scene and some horses for the Roman centurions.


First scene — A Roman centurion on horseback will read a decree, keeping order for those coming into Bethlehem.

Second scene — An active group of merchants of Bethlehem, determined to peddle their wares and make some money as people are arriving for the census.

Third scene — A group of shepherds will be watching their sheep as an angel chorus sings nearby.

Fourth scene — The three Wise Men have arrived on camels and have set up their tents for the night.

Final scene — Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in the stable.


You’ll be able to drive through the living Nativity in about 10 minutes from the time you reach the greeter station. If you want to spend more time enjoying the event, Greer said organizers have established a pedestrian walkway on the sidewalk around Church Circle. Parking will be available at any of the churches around Church Circle.

The route begins at the intersection of Sullivan and Center, and once you loop through the circle and see the Nativity, all vehicles will exit onto Clinchfield Street. All of the side roads along Sullivan through the course of the route will be closed to traffic beginning at 4:30 p.m. on the day of the event.

“The first year we were overwhelmed with traffic because we did not have all of the street closures,” Greer said. “Last year the city closed off all of the side entry streets ... so it didn’t bottleneck and people weren’t allowed to break line.”

For more information, call (423) 247-4122.