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Drive-In Nativity

by Michael Ford last modified 18 Dec, 2020 09:00 PM

With our churches responding to the current Tier 2 restrictions, and seeking to spread Christmas cheer and a meaningful message, events are reaching communities as never before. In some areas, church work across denominations is bearing fruit.

Drive-In Nativity

Screen shot from the YouTube version

You may have read about Weymouth's Drive-In Nativity plans in our Advent Calendar of Comfort and Joy, and the event went ahead despite the weather, and was a huge success, with 100s of attendees.

Joseph and Mary came to Weymouth this week seeking a place to stay and found a home in the hearts of a lucky group of people sitting in their cars in a drive-in event at the town’s Park and Ride facility.

An hour-long nativity play and carol service on a big screen brought all the joy of Christmas for 3 nights (Tuesday to Thursday) amid all the challenges imposed by Covid-19 restrictions.

Watch it on YouTube here.

Tickets for a total of 100 vehicles each night were quickly sold out, and the verdict on the event was: “Absolutely fabulous”.

It even made the BBC Spotlight News on the first evening, which included an interview with Team Rector Nick Clarke, leading the team putting the production together, who said:

“This year has been so challenging. Forced into lockdown isolation, we are unable to have our Carol Services as usual. With the support of churches across Weymouth and Portland, under Refresh, as well as Weymouth Town Council and Dorset Council we have been able to set up this drive-in Nativity.

“We miss the joy of being able to sing carols in church. and so we wanted to give the community the opportunity not only to watch a filmed Nativity but also to participate with singing from the safety of their cars. The response and the team work involved has been magnificent.”

One man sitting in his car told the BBC reporter he and his family had sung the carols at the top of their voices, which was “absolutely fabulous. This was such a nice thing to do. Hope they can do it again, it would be wonderful. Maybe they could also do it at Easter.”

Among the first-night audience, Lay Minister Carl Whitehouse [St Mary’s] said: “It was a great event, so well organised. They had so many stewards and everyone was very carefully directed into spaces, with good safe distancing between cars, good views of the screen and a really friendly approach. Speakers and ‘Activity packs’ for children were given out as one arrived – great idea.”

The film was very cleverly put together with the much-loved Bible story intermingled with modern elements, such as difficulties in recording caused by Covid-19 restrictions and inability to have people together used as a source of jokes.

One example of the production difficulties caused by social distancing is illustrated by the fact the 3 Wise Men all came from one family 'bubble'.

The story was deliberately child-friendly and simply told. For Carl Whitehouse, his favourite scene was “in the kitchen with the innkeeper lazily washing up to loud music and shouting out of window to Joseph and Mary outside looking for accommodation, and his absolutely frantically overworked wife shouting at him that there was definitely no room for the couple with all the deep cleaning and everything that Covid-19 meant they had to do.”

All in all, the event showed churches working together to bring seasonal joy and comfort to the wider local community in the face of numerous difficulties.

Drive-In Nativity- main image

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