The Living Nativity celebrates 11 years

First Assembly of God in Searcy will host its annual Christmas event called The Living Nativity beginning Friday, Dec. 4.

The Christmas story comes alive as First Assembly transforms the outside of the church, located at 101 S. Benton St., to reflect the hustle and bustle of Bethlehem as it would have appeared in biblical times.

Nearly 300 church members, exotic animals, handmade costumes and crafts set the scene for the Nativity. Visitors come face-to-face with the Roman guards at the city gates before being swept into an authentic-looking and multidimensional experience of the first Christmas.  

The Living Nativity includes replicas of Herod’s palace, the inn with a “No vacancy sign,” multiple storefronts, the temple, tents of the three wise men and the manger. Church members portray Bethlehem townspeople as they would have appeared on the first Christmas night.

Children’s Pastor Mark Ferren is also the master craftsman of the town, constructing much of the Bethlehem scene from Styrofoam in phenomenal detail.

“Our church started The Living Nativity to share the true story of Christmas,” he said. “Every building, character and costume in the Nativity was handmade to portray the biblical account of the night Christ was born. We want to give visitors a genuine experience of the night that changed the world.”

According to Ferren, the church has welcomed more than 99,500 visitors from throughout Arkansas and neighboring states to The Living Nativity over the past 10 years. This year, the church will welcome the 100,000th guest — a milestone for the event.

The Living Nativity is free to the public and will be open the weekends of December 4-6 and December 11-13. It is open 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sundays.

Visitors can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while watching scenes from favorite Christmas movies projected onto large screens outside the church during their wait. The church also offers restrooms with changing stations for guests who have extended wait times.

For more information, please visit or contact Mark Ferren at 501.278.6354.

The Living Nativity is part of the Searcy Holiday of Lights.