Journey to Bethlehem

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Categories: In Our Communities

Mission Outreach Coordinator Karla Yates stands outside Oologah UMC while preparing for a special Christmas event for the community.

Don’t let the pandemic steal your Christmas joy: stop by Oologah United Methodist Church on December 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a free drive-through Nativity experience that will feature live actors and animals re-telling the birth story of Jesus. Journey to Bethlehem while sitting in the comforts of your car!

Oologah UMC is known for their brilliant Christmas children’s service, but the coronavirus left the Christian community grieving the loss of their elaborate annual event. In response, Mission Outreach Coordinator Karla Yates declared, “If we can’t be inside, we’re going outside!”

Those young and old are invited to participate in the touchless drive-through; you’ll never leave your car as you tune your radio to listen to Christmas music while re-living the story of Christmas. Upon arrival, you’ll be ushered through 4 different stations featuring Mary and Joseph with the archangel Gabriel, the traveling wise men, the shepherds with their horses, sheep, goats, and donkeys, and Christ in the humble Bethlehem manger.

It won’t be hard to spot the church: passersby on Highway 169 will see the commotion from the road and be prompted to visit the event, which was financially supported by generous donors from the church. The virus caught church leaders by surprise, rendering them with no budget for a special event. This forced them to rely on the generosity of people and businesses like Nick Shelton from Shelton Christmas Lights, who selflessly donated labor and lights to make the festivity possible.

“Journey to Bethlehem” will be the swan song event for longtime pastor Reverend Dr. Jennifer Long, whose final sermon at Oologah UMC will be on Christmas Eve as she transitions to a new church. Leading up to the event and thereafter, you’re invited to tune into the Oologah UMC Facebook page for live streams of their services every Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

2020 was meant to be a celebration of Oologah UMC’s 125th Anniversary.  “We were unable to celebrate our 125 years in our community because of the pandemic this year, so we had to think outside the box all the way around,” said Yates. The drive-through Nativity experience is just one way they are adapting to continue serving their community.

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