PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A 26-year-old tradition at a Ponte Vedra Beach church is being placed on hold this year.
The annual “Bethlehem Visit” will not be held due to parking challenges, said Senior Pastor Richard Cooper with Ponte Vedera Presbyterian Church.
Historically, the live nativity scene features more than 200 volunteer cast members and animals. who come out every year to re-create how Bethlehem might have been on the night of Jesus's birth.
The church typically builds a bustling village filled with merchants, townspeople, artisans and dozens of live animals. Guards greet you at the entrance and remind you to "pay taxes to Caesar!"
The event is usually free of charge and draws in families from across the state.
Here is the full statement from Senior Pastor, Richard Cooper:
"Through much prayer, deliberation and circumstances beyond our control, the session (elders) of Ponte Vedra Presbyterian Church has decided that our annual “Bethlehem Visit” will not be held this year. Our decision was precipitated due to parking access challenges with the construction of the new PGA Tour headquarters on County Rd 210 (Palm Valley Rd.). Other local parking options have been considered, but logistically, none were viable options.
We are grateful to the PGA Tour for allowing the use of their parking lot over the last 26 years, which allowed PVPC to bus tens of thousands of guests to its campus to share the Good News of Jesus Christ during the Christmas season.
We look forward to exploring other opportunities to serve our community this Christmas season and will reevaluate a Bethlehem Visit for 2019. We’d like to thank each and every volunteer who gave of their time, talents and treasures over the last 26 years to make this free event to the community a reality. We are very grateful to all our corporate sponsors, the PGA Tour/TPC, and our guests every year that came to experience “The Bethlehem Visit.”
We look forward with anticipation in celebrating this Christmas season as a church family. “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (ESV, Luke 2:10-11)."