If you haven’t seen it, add the drive-through production of The Christmas Journey at First Baptist Church of McKinney to your list of things to do this weekend. If you are religious it’s a must-do, as the The Christmas Journey celebrates the Christmas season by depicting the birth of Christ. It includes scenes portraying the life of Christ through his death and resurrection. If you aren’t religious, it’s a must-do from the perspective of being historically interesting.
The Christmas Journey is a 15-scene, fully dramatized outdoor drive-thru production portraying the life of Christ. As you travel through the biblical scenes, you will have a multi-sensory experience of the accounts of Jesus Christ’s life. Witness Roman soldiers in their chariots and see the Wise Men traveling the country alongside their camels and shepherds and their flocks in the fields. Imagine driving down the streets of Bethlehem in the days surrounding Christ’s birth, ministry, persecution and ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
Sawyer Erickson, who experienced the production first hand on Thursday, said, “As you drive up to the entrance, you see these huge towers that you drive through that are simply jaw-dropping. The entire event is well done and very impressive.”
McKinney resident Tim Baker said he and his family went for the first time Thursday. “It’s amazing — completely worth it,” Baker said.
Dr. Myron Wilson, Minister of Worship and Arts at First Baptist, said he formed a concept for the event in 1996 when he and his family were told they should go see the Christmas lights around McKinney.
“My wife and I loaded up the kids and saw all Disney characters in neighborhoods that year. I felt like what should be depicted was the story of Jesus,” Wilson said. “If people will come for Disney cut-outs, they would come out to see a live portrayal of the birth of Christ. That’s what Christmas is about.”
Five hundred volunteers, all placed in their area of giftedness, participate in the production, which opens with only one two-hour rehearsal, Wilson told TSB.
Although many of the volunteers, including entire families, have been participating in the event for years, about 60 percent of this year’s volunteer cast and crew are participating for the first time. In some cases, second generations of families are continuing the tradition.
According to Wilson, the church budgets for the production. About 30 percent of the budget is made up of donations from the public. This enables the church to pay for parts of the production, including the set that is brought in from New York.
“This is a worship experience and we won’t charge people to come hear about God’s love,” Wilson said, explaining that they will accept donations, but the event is actually free.
“It’s an honor for us to do it. It’s always a work in progress trying to improve it,” Wilson said.
The production, which opened Thursday, runs through Sunday, from 6 to 9 p.m. each night and features a cast of over 800. First Baptist of McKinney is located at 1615 W Louisiana Street in McKinney.
Visitors receive a CD at the entrance that narrates the scenes in both English and Spanish. This experience is viewed entirely from your car, or you may prefer to take the open air trailer rides. The event is free. http://www.firstmckinney.com/