First century marketplace comes alive
Bethel Pentecostal Church hosts Breakfast in Bethlehem
Nails pounding, feather quill pens scribing, goats bleating.
Breakfast in Bethlehem in Tillsonburg Saturday morning provided a different type of indoor marketplace.
“Breakfast in Bethlehem is an activity for families,” said Pastor Brent Shepherd at Bethel Pentecostal Church on Quarter Town Line. “We want to make sure that families get a great experience, together. Christmastime is a time when there is so much going on, but we want to make sure there are activities that families can enjoy together - a low cost, fun thing for them to do.”
Hosted on two Saturdays, Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, the pancake and sausage anchored the twoday event, but the highlight was the interactive first century marketplace.
“We wanted to try to make it like a first century marketplace,” said Shepherd. “So there’s carpentry, rope making, scribes and there’s some sewing. We tried to make it ‘sort of authentic.’ Just some neat things that you wouldn’t get at other activities that are more modern. There’s a lot of Santa Claus stuff, but this is something different, sort of a first-century feel of what it would have been like in the ‘birth of Jesus’ time. We wanted this to be an addition to all the other fun things that are happening.”
Several animals from Little Tracks Petting Zoo were on site for petting and viewing. And a ‘Selfie Picture Stable’ was set up where visitors could try on period costumes to take selfies.
“We just try to make it a fun experience for everybody, to enjoy a 1st century experience,” said Shepherd, noting that Pastor Sarabeth Strathdee came up with the idea two years ago, but a team of people gathered together to help make it happen.
“Volunteers from the church have worked together to create the atmosphere and the ideas, and came up with the way to put it all together. It it wasn’t for the volunteers helping with it, this day just wouldn’t exist.”
Church volunteers made sure period costumes were available for vendors, artisans and children.
“It helps keep the feel of that environment of what it would have been like back in those days,” said Shepherd.
The second Saturday always seems to bring in more people, he noted, both last year and this year. They sold about 90 tickets for the Nov. 24 breakfast, and that was surpassed Dec. 1.
“The word gets out. The first week we did it, it was good, but this week has been very busy. It will be more for sure.”
Although most visitors seemed to be families with young children, Shepherd said some seniors visit for the breakfast and story and to interact with some of the events.
“That’s part of it - anyone who wants to come, can come. It’s a community event, we want to make sure anybody and everybody can be part of it.”
In the future, the marketplace idea may expand to other seasons.
“It’s been working well. If we can improve on it, get this working well, we will figure out whether it’s something we can do for another type of season,” said Shepherd. “Easter and Christmas are big ones in the church, but we’re starting with Christmas first.”
Animals from Little Tracks Petting Zoo were popular at the Breakfast in Bethlehem event in Tillsonburg Saturday morning.