Christmas comes to life at mid Norfolk church
Hundreds of people visited the mid Norfolk village of Ashill on December 16 to experience Bethlehem Live and the top-class production of Scrooge Reworked, all hosted by Fountain of Life church. Helen Baldry reports.
Driving through the wintry country lanes of Norfolk, it seemed impossible that I would happen across anything like an authentic experience of Bethlehem – but I was in for a treat when I arrived at Fountain of Life church.
On entry to the village, there was a warm welcome from people dressed in ancient robes, demanding to know which tribe we were from so we could be recorded on the census! Roman soldiers barked orders and we were ushered into the village to pet the donkeys and goats and sample some wares from the food stalls.
The church car park had been transformed into a bustling village, which included weavers and spinners, inn keepers, carpenters and stone masons, apothecary, Roman centurions, tax collectors and shepherds.
There was plenty to do; visitors could make clay buttons, have a go at woodwork and even cook flatbreads on the blazing fires. There was no shortage of the tastes and smells of ancient Bethlehem – with olives, dried fruit, soup and bread to sample alongside the more modern fayre of mulled wine and mince pies.
In order to cater for demand, there were two performances of Scrooge Reworked, a play which was written by church member Rachel Kehoe. The cast was entirely comprised of church members and the acting and singing was fantastic. The production took weeks of planning and rehearsals and the attention to detail in the costumes and the set design was amazing. As Rachel wrote the script, she felt that God's hand was on it. She said, "God wove it together" as she penned it and approached people to be involved. Scrooge was played by Steve Bullas, and his character met with Jesus in the play with the help of the Holy Spirit, played by Karen Gower.
The event was really popular - it was standing room only for the performances of Scrooge. It was all free of charge and donations were welcome. Visitors felt immersed in Biblical times, which helped make the Christmas story seem very immediate and relevant, especially having heard a simple and direct message in the play about who God is and why he sent Jesus.
Pictured above: Karen Gower, Steve Bullas and Rachel Kehoe
Photos by Phil Clothier