Alexandria, LA – Time travel seems to become reality when you step outside the doors of
Emmanuel Baptist Church into their semi-annual Pilgrimage to Bethlehem. It’s an opportunity to lose yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of first century Bethlehem.
Several years ago Greg and Gayle Carroll’s family took their first tour through the city. As pilgrims from the outside world, their journey was filled with wonder, anxiety and excitement, according to Gayle. “It was an experience of the senses to say the least,” she said. Once the tour was over all she could think was “I want to go back, there are too many things I need to go see again.”
This December marks the 7th year that Emmanuel will host the event, “Pilgrimage to Bethlehem”. Logan Franks is just one of many children who have grown up in Bethlehem. Through the years he has been a child in the Jewish home, a non-speaking thief, a shepherd and a Roman Guard. This year Franks will play the role of Joseph. For 16-year-old Logan Franks, it’s “all about the team. Every single person in that city is responsible for making this the best experience possible for our guests.” He said his many roles have helped him reach this viewpoint.
For the Carroll family it has been over four years since they first stepped foot in Bethlehem. This year they will each become a part of the city itself.
The excitement and apprehension once felt about Roman guards, thieves and lepers has now turned into excitement about giving these characters life, Gayle Carroll said. “My daughter, Laura, eagerly awaits playing a child thief. And my son, William, loves that while playing his part, he will get to spend time with the live animals roaming the city.”
“I am excited that this time I will get to see, hear, smell, taste and touch everything that I so desperately wanted to see again,” Gayle said. Her husband Greg sees it as a chance to come together with friends to share a most amazing story in a new and glorious way.
“I look forward to losing myself in the role of Abraham each night, to forget the busy routine and worries of my day filled with the stress of work or buying the latest gadget to wrap and place under a tree.” Greg said. “I want to bring the pilgrims into an ancient world they have heard so much about but probably have never walked, seen, or smelled like this!”
He wants to transport their minds from the commercial traditions of Christmas to the greatest joy, peace and expression of love that is truly the basis of Christmas.
The Carrolls are looking forward to living the long pilgrimage to Bethlehem with new lessons learned, new friendships forged, and a new appreciation for what one church can do when its whole body works together.
The magic of Pilgrimage to Bethlehem continues this December 12 through the 15. Emmanuel invites you to experience it for yourself and hear again the familiar story of a Savior who changed the world.
This event is handicap accessible and free to the public. Emmanuel Baptist Church is located at the corner of 4th and Jackson streets in downtown Alexandria. For more information, visit the church’s website at www.emmanuelalexandria.org or call the church office at 318-442-7773.