LAUREL HILL — About 2,000 years ago, a young couple named Mary and Joseph — the lady being "great with child" — made a spiritual journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The world hasn’t stopped talking about what happened next ever since.
Since 2010, members of the Laurel Hill and Crestview Presbyterian Churches have invited friends and neighbors to take a spiritual "Journey to Bethlehem" of their own, following a candlelit path that winds through the Laurel Hill church’s grounds.
This year’s Living Nativity runs continuously from 5:30 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14. Visitors, assembled in small groups, embark every few minutes on their "journey." Along the way, they encounter the people to whom what has been called "the greatest story ever told" unfolded, portrayed by actors from several area churches.
Ultimately, the journey takes participants to a stable in Bethlehem, where awaits a baby in a manger. Refreshments and fellowship follow in the historic, 121-year-old Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church, 8115 Fourth St.
The journey follows a winding candlelit path over level, unpaved grass. Most of the journey is wheelchair accessible.
For information, call 850-682-2835. Groups are welcome. Parking is at the track, Fourth Street and Park Lane.
Below are more holiday church services and events.
Crestview First United Methodist Church
Crestview's First United Methodist Church will join in worship at its annual traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 24 in the main sanctuary. The Rev. Dr. Ronnie Bearden, pastor, will address "The High Cost of Christmas."
The Chancel Choir, under the direction of Kevin Lusk, will present a choral rendition of the traditional carol, "O, Holy Night." Holy Communion will be served, and all are invited. The church is at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Texas Parkway.
Crosspoint’s North Crestview campus will offer a contemporary Christmas Eve service at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 22. It will also offer a Crosspoint Kids: Family Experience (FX) – Jingle Jam at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Dec. 24. It will have contemporary Christmas Eve services at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 24. Contemporary Christmas Eve Services include candle-lighting and Communion (and not at FX services). Kids programs are provided for Pre-K and younger at the Contemporary services, and for birth through age 2 at the FX services. The location is 6268 Old Bethel Road.
The South Crestview campus will offer a contemporary Christmas Eve service at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 22 and a traditional service at 11 a.m. Dec. 22. It will also offer contemporary Christmas Eve services at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 24 and a traditional service at 7 p.m. Dec. 24. All services will include candle-lighting and Communion. Kids programs are provided for Pre-K and younger at the contemporary services. Champions Ministry for children with special needs will be open during the 4 p.m. service. No kids programs will be available for the traditional service on Christmas Eve.
Impact Life Church
Impact Life Church will offer a candlelight Christmas service at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Dec. 22 at 1021 U.S. Highway 98.
FORT WALTON BEACH
Chapel of the Cross
Enjoy the music and ministry of The Appointed Quartet at a concert at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 at Chapel of the Cross, 100 Jonquil Ave. Doors open at 5 p.m.
First Baptist Church of Fort Walton Beach
First Baptist Church of Fort Walton Beach will present the 31st Live Nativity celebration from Dec. 16 through 21. The Nativity can be found at the corner of 2nd Street and Church Avenue, right by the First Baptist Church sanctuary. The shepherd’s field will be filled with sheep, donkeys and Naomi the camel. Visitors may feed them 6-8:30 p.m. This celebration of the birth of Jesus is a free event that includes a picture in the Nativity with the three wise men along with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus as angels look down from above. The photo will be ready as you depart the refreshment area, where you may enjoy cookies, coffee and hot chocolate. The story of the candy cane is also presented in another area. For more information on the church’s free gift to the community, go to fbcfwb.org.
Crosspoint’s Niceville campus will offer a traditional Christmas Eve service at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 22 and a contemporary service 9:32 a.m. Dec. 22. It will also offer contemporary Christmas Eve services at 2:30, 4, 5:30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 24 and traditional Christmas Eve services at 3:30, 5 and 6:30 p.m. The location is 214 Partin Drive S.
Crosspoint’s Bluewater Bay campus will offer a contemporary Christmas Eve service at 11:05 a.m. Dec. 22. It will also offer contemporary Christmas Eve services at 2:35, 4:05 and 5:35 p.m. Dec. 24. The location is 4400 Highway 20 East, Suite 600.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will present its annual Christmas program with choir and orchestra at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15. The Niceville Chapel at 200 Palm Boulevard will host this popular event.
Olivet Baptist Church
The community is invited to join Olivet Baptist Church, 5240 Dogwood Drive, this Christmas season as Pastor William Milam leads the church through Advent.
Aside from the Sunday advent services, the kids have been hard at work preparing for the Children’s Christmas Musical to be performed in the 11 a.m. service Dec. 15. Then, the Olivet Choir will perform its Christmas Musical at 11 a.m. Dec. 22 in the service.
At 5 p.m. Dec. 24, all are welcome to partake in the annual candlelight Christmas Eve service with the handheld candles and traditional Christmas carols.
First United Methodist Church of Pace
First United Methodist Church of Pace will offer a Christmas Cantata at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 15 followed by a coffee fellowship at 9:30 a.m. It also will offer a traditional service at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 22 followed by a coffee fellowship at 9:30 a.m. The contemporary service is at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 22 followed by a coffee fellowship at 10:45 a.m. Sunday School for all ages is 9:45-10:30 a.m. The church will also offer a Blue Christmas service at 6 p.m. Dec. 22. A candlelight Christmas Eve service with Communion is 7 p.m. Dec. 24. A nursery is available for all services.
Good Shepherd Shalimar
Christmas Light is the theme for this year’s Advent services at Good Shepherd Shalimar, 1 Meigs Drive. The Dec. 18 service is called "When Your Travel is Taxing" with dinner at 5:30 p.m. and the service at 6 p.m. The Christmas Eve service is called "When Your Heart is Heavy" at 6 p.m. Dec. 24. The Christmas Day service is called "When Your Darkness is Depleting" at 10 a.m. Dec. 25.
Shalimar United Methodist Church
Shalimar United Methodist Church will host a Youth Choir-led service at 5 p.m. Dec. 24. Join them in the sanctuary for lessons and carols celebrating Christ's birth. This service is family-friendly, but nursery care is provided. It will end with Communion and candlelight.
At 7 p.m. Dec. 24, join in the sanctuary as the chancel choir leads lessons and carols celebrating Christ's birth. This service is family-friendly, but nursery care is provided. It will end with Communion and candlelight.
There will also be a children-led service at 3 p.m. and a contemporary service at 11:07 a.m. Check Facebook.com/ShalimarUMC for more events.
The Gathering at Sandestin
The Gathering at Sandestin will offer a Christmas Eve Service at 4 p.m. in the Linkside Exhibit Center. It will be a short but meaningful service, with the reading of the Christmas story and singing of some favorite Christmas hymns. It concludes with the candlelight singing of "Silent Night" by the congregation. The Church is at 1126 Prestwick Place, Miramar Beach.
Good News United Methodist Church
Join Good News United Methodist Church this Christmas Eve for services that will glorify God by sharing the wonder of Jesus’ birth. Services are at 3, 4:30 and 6 p.m. at 4747 U.S. Highway 98 W, Santa Rosa Beach.