Church puts spotlight on Bethlehem

Published 10:41 pm Friday, December 7, 2018

Members of Southside Baptist Church are putting on a show that will pull back the curtain on different aspects of the Bible that make for a fascinating Christmas tapestry.

“House of Bread: The Story of Bethlehem” will be performed at the church on the evenings of Dec. 15 and 16. This Christmas drama is open to the public with no admission free and tells the birth and death of Jesus Christ and everything in between.

Written by director Ernie Chenault, this original play dives into the details of key moments in scripture that surround the town of Bethlehem.

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“Realistically, it’s more like I arranged scripture,” Chenault said.

The story begins with a young man named Erel, the son of an innkeeper named Seva. They’re building the stable that will eventually be the site of Christ’s birth, just outside of Bethlehem, which translates to “the House of Bread.”

Then Erel’s mother Challah and sister Nova bring food to the campfire, and they sit and share the story of Bethlehem’s founding. What follows is a slew of yarns acted out with characters that span the centuries.

That includes Jacob and his wives Leah and Rachel, King David’s upbringing as a shepherd and his triumph over Goliath with a slingshot, and of course Mary and Joseph on that one fateful night in the innkeeper’s barn.

All of these are tied together in Chenault’s narrative that goes from Erel’s childhood and into his adulthood, and all those years come full circle in Bethlehem.

“Bethlehem is a narrative to tell the story,” Chenault said, in a way that’s enlightening to those that have never read these stories as well as seasoned readers. “They’ll take something away from this at different levels.”

Members of the church recently began setting the stage in the 400-person auditorium with elaborate set pieces. The actors have a full wardrobe that immediately draws the actors into the past, along with the audience.

“We have to make it as biblically accurate as possible,” said Dianne Williams, who is in charge of costumes.

The actors are well-dressed and enthusiastic to get into character and shine the spotlight on “The Story of Bethlehem.”

“This is an amazing group of dedicated people,” Chenault said. Nobody makes any money off of this and they’re all giving up tons of time. There’s zero budget. Everybody is either donating or providing (something).

“We just get a script together, get supplies together, build the stuff, perform and hope that we impact people in a positive way.”

The performances will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 15-16 at Southside Baptist Church, 917 Carolina Road. American Sign Language interpreters will interpret for the deaf and hard of hearing. Call 539-6629 or visit for more information.