CARRIER MILLS – Temperatures Friday evening dipped into the mid- to low 20s, and the occasional breeze didn't make the polar winter air feel any more comfortable.
Still, the group set up along the north side of U.S. 45 in Carrier Mills – across from the high school – had a purpose in mind that would mean spending the next three hours in the cold.
"We're freezin' for a reason!" one of the shepherds in Carrier Mills First Baptist Church's live Nativity piped up.
Indeed, there is a point to a live portrayal of the biblical Christmas scene, according to Pastor Ryan Beck.
"We did this two years ago and we got a good response to it," Beck said. "We want to be able to share with the community what church means in a simple way. Our motto is, 'Share the love of Jesus with no strings attached.'"
Pritchette Deaton and her husband Jason portrayed Mary and Joseph, while Beck's wife Christi played an angel. Langdon Jerrell, Kylan Jerrell, Nolen Deaton, Rayne Jerell and Alex Morris were the shepherds.
Jason and Ryan spent two weeks putting together the structure representing the barn in Bethlehem, their wives said. The open-sided building, along with a couple of small heaters, offered a little break from the frosty temperatures. Jason Deaton said it will be repurposed as storage for bales of straw for the church's fall hayrides.
Christi Beck said the church, which has about 75 active members, uses community outreach programs like the live Nativity to stay connected.
As cars drove past and honked, and the young shepherds called out, "Jesus loves you," and waved, it was clear many in the community appreciated the display. The church will again have its live Nativity on display from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday in the same spot, across from the high school.
Christi said the church members didn't mind a little discomfort to tell the Christmas story.
"It's a great way to remind our community the reason for the holiday," she said.