Press release from Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry:
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – ABCCM kicks off the Christmas season with the 2022 Christmas Angel Shop (a children’s toy drive) event and the local Christmas favorite, Return to Bethlehem, an interactive journey to the birthplace of Jesus.
2022 Christmas Angel Shop
ABCCM officially opens the 2022 Christmas Angel Shop at 153 Smokey Park Highway
on Monday, November 28th at 10 am, near the recently redesigned Smokey Park Highway Ingles Store. Ingles is donating their space once again for ABCCM to fill the Christmas wishes of hundreds of children whose families come to ABCCM’s four Crisis Ministry centers for assistance.
The Christmas Shop will need volunteers starting November 28th and will be open until December 23rd for parents to pick up their children’s gifts. The Shop’s hours are Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
“No toys for you this Christmas is the last thing any Mom or Dad wants to tell their kids,” says Rev. Scott Rogers, ABCCM Executive Director. “ABCCM’s Christmas Angel Shop makes Christmas possible for these moms and dads. This year we already have 341 families with 822 children. We have 100 Latino families and over 100 Ukrainian families as we meet the needs of vulnerable families. Someone can help these families that are right in our own backyard, by bringing the joy of Christmas! There is a great need for gifts for “tweens” (middle schoolers) and “teens.”
Families are sponsored for Christmas through individuals, businesses and churches who take families’ wish-lists and purchase presents for specific children. Christmas Angels is the only toy drive that includes teenagers in the gift list. The Christmas Angel Shop also sponsors families through toy drives that are sponsored by businesses, restaurants and churches. Some people also donate money to the program. Through these various ways of sponsoring families, everyone who comes to ABCCM in need for this help is sponsored. This year there are six National Guard families on the list. One family has been sponsored, while the others are awaiting sponsors.
Last year ABCCM was able to serve 489 families and 1189 children through the Christmas Angel program. With several weeks to go and many families and new applicants already enrolled in the program for 2022, ABCCM is anticipating a 23% increase in family applications by the week of Christmas.
“We appreciate Ingles’ generosity for helping accomplish this for the needy in our community,” said Rev. Rogers. “Christmas Angel is ABCCM’s way of filling the gaps for families in crisis during the Holy-Days. We are honored to partner with Ingles, who donates the space for toys to be delivered to the Christmas Angel Shop. Families in crisis do not have the funds for toys and must focus on providing the basic necessities. So, we need to help the children with toys to take the pressure off of the parents and demonstrate our love and care for them. This reflects the real meaning of how God loved us in giving His Son, and His love means that we care for families in need the way that Christ fed the hungry and cared for the sick. Thanks to all who share.”
Christmas Angel applications will be received now through December at all four ABCCM Crisis Ministry locations: 24 Cumberland Ave. Asheville, N.C. 28801, 1914 Smoky Park Hwy., Candler, N.C., 28715, 10 Buck Shoals Road, Arden, N.C. 28704, and 403 Weaverville Hwy., Asheville, N.C. 28804.
Your help is needed. If you wish to sponsor a child or donate new toys, new clothes, and other Christmas items, please go to abccm.squarespace.com/christmas-angel-2022.
Return to Bethlehem
Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) marks the 36th year of North Carolina’s longest-running Nativity production, Return to Bethlehem, December 1 – 4 at Groce United Methodist Church, 954 Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC.
Return to Bethlehem is an experiential theater production in which the audience interacts with more than 50 volunteer actors, dozens of local musicians, live animals, and more to reenact first century Bethlehem under Roman rule, the humble and culturally tense backdrop for the birth of the Baby Jesus.
This environmental theatre style production makes the audience part of the show when they meet the Census Taker to begin their journey in Bethlehem. Then they take a thirty-minute journey through the serpentine set on a pathway to the Manger. Along the way, actors in the local shops, passersby, prisoners in chains, or in the Temple children speak of the common rumors of rebellion against the Romans and an uncommon and barely believable rumor that their Savior could be in the city right now as a helpless baby in an animal pen. Prophets cry out, Roman soldiers order people to move along, live animals sound off, and music plays as the audience is shepherded towards the end to town. The sounds and lights dim as the audience hears the soft sounds of a real baby and its parents in the Manger. There, like the young couple, they can ponder Christmas.
For 34 years, Return to Bethlehem has been ABCCM’s gift back to the community from its staff and its 280-member churches to make this a lasting Christmas tradition for all. The production is free and open to the public during its four-day run.
“It’s exciting to give this gift back to the community,” Rev. Rogers says. “You all give us so much, and we’re thankful throughout the year. Only a group of churches coming together could really tell the great big story of the people of Bethlehem, because we recreate the marketplace. It’s all about experiencing the real meaning of Christmas. We’re thankful to Groce United Methodist Church for hosting us once again.”
Volunteer actors and musicians are still needed for the production. To be a part of making Bethlehem come alive, you can assist with setup, stage decoration, or even play a role in the performance. To volunteer, please contact Jim Brewer at email@example.com or call 828-398-6818.