Church helps local community get into the festive spirit

A church has been helping hundreds of people in the local community to get into the festive spirit with their annual 'Christmas Experience'.

The cast of Lenzie Union Parish Church Christmas Experience
The cast of Lenzie Union Parish Church Christmas Experience

This is the fourth time that Lenzie Union Parish Church in East Dunbartonshire has run the event, which adapts the story of the Nativity into 30 minutes.

The performance, which included sound effects to make it more immersive and even humour, was made up of members of the congregation.

Schools around Lenzie attended different time slots throughout this week, with the wider public given the opportunity to see it last Thursday.

Minister, Rev Daniel Carmichael, described the chance to take part in the annual celebration as "a privilege".

"The Christmas Experience is a real highlight for Lenzie Union", he said.

"It's hard work and there's a lot of fun and laughter too, but we all find that's it's a privilege to act out the amazing good news of God's love made human in Jesus.

The shepherds
The shepherds and a sheep

"It's a privilege too to welcome people from local schools and the community."

Mr Carmichael said the congregation "loved" putting on the event.

"On the Saturday afternoon after the Christmas Experience we have been running a 'Bethlehem Experience'," he added.

"The church hall is transformed into a busy street scene of Bethlehem long ago with lots of fun filled things to do a crafts, games, refreshments, and a short drama in the church.

"Leading up to that there is a donkey trail - people in the church have been knitting donkeys which are given a home and named by local shops.

"Children and families then try to complete the donkey trail by finding out the names of each of the donkeys."

Two of the congregation as Mary and Joseph
Two of the congregation as Mary and Joseph

This year, Mary was played by Callie Stainbrook, an American who attends the church whilst doing a postgraduate course at Glasgow University.

She said: "I've really enjoyed being a part of The Christmas Experience.

"It is very different from anything I've experienced in America.

"It amazes me that the community, including the schools, come to take part in the event.

"What I appreciate the most about the experience is how Lenzie Union gives people from all walks of life the opportunity to learn about the history and belief system found within the Christian faith.

"Even if the people who come aren't a part of the Church, it's a great opportunity for people to see why we celebrate Christmas and experience what it would have been like at the first Christmas."