HUNDREDS of visitors flocked to Bury United Reformed Church at the weekend to relive the very first Christmas.

More than 600 people of all ages travelled back in time to enjoy the traditional story of Mary and Joseph at this year’s Bethlehem Live exhibition.

The free annual event, now in its second year, saw members of 12 Bury churches come together to stage a live exhibition telling the Christmas story with a modern twist.

Organiser Rod Fairbrother said: “Our objective as churches is to put out the real message of Christmas and it was brilliant.

“The people who put it on worked really hard and were very creative.”

On Friday evening, about 200 pupils from primary schools in Radcliffe and Bury attended a preview of the exhibition and the doors of the church in Parsons Lane opened to the public from 10am to 4pm on Saturday.

Guests were led on a shepherd’s guide around various scenes in the worship area, including a Bethlehem market, a Roman centurion office and Herod’s Palace.

Children were able to stroke the animals, such as sheep, goats and hens, in the church car park.

Minister of Bury United Reformed Church, Rev Ruth Wollaston, said: “Bethlehem Live is a modern pageant which tells the Christmas story in a way which is fun and that people can easily understand and enjoy.

“On the lower floor, visitors came to the significant part of the story, the shepherds, angels, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. It was beautiful to watch.

“Our church is a modern building which only opened in 2007 so it is a fully multi-purpose building which is ideal.”

The number of visitors equalled last year’s debut event and it is hoped even more will attend in the future.