17th December 2014

Juggling black light 'toobies', live 'snow', puppets and precise gymnastic routines, Calmore community presented an astonishingly different take on the typical Christmas concert as they told the story of Jesus' birth, from the animals' perspectives!

Over 150 locals gathered at the Calmore Community Centre, in Totton, Southampton, on Saturday evening, 13 December, to watch the seasonal performance put on by children from the community and from the Watering Hole Adventist church plant. Organised by Pastor Rosemary Lethbridge, who had even roped her husband Gordon into  costume making, the evening went smoothly with even the artificial snow falling perfectly.

Snow puppetsThe evening was made up of a variety of acts on stage, on the gymnastic mats and in the puppet theatres. The story began with 'Bumblebee sheep', singing camels and acrobatic cows setting the scene for Jesus' birth. The artistic displays were interspersed with narration from Pastor Lethbridge, who focused on the biblical story.

"My son is in the puppet team, my wife is one of the hospitality people and my two daughters, they also go along to the youth meetings. They thoroughly enjoy them and they've had a great time", said Alther Jonas. "It's really good to see everybody come in, there are a lot of contacts that the Watering Hole has and so quite a lot of those people actually come to services like this." 

Puppet winnerThe black light acts were among the best performances, with very few of the audience having seen anything like them before. The hall would be plunged into darkness as the fluorescent figures, named toobies,  told their story through song.  Linda Rose Michel, a student volunteer from Andrews University, an Adventist institution in Michigan, works with the Watering Hole and performed as one of the toobies on the night. 

"It was a lot of fun but a lot of work", she said. "We had a million practices, a million hours just trying to figure out choreography, we did a lot of dance moves. It was really good, I'm really happy I did it, I would love to do it again next year."

A few of the acts had changed the lyrics of well-known pop songs to fit the story. In the finale, the toobies performed, 'I Need A Saviour', sung to the music of 'I Need A Hero', by singer Bonnie Tyler.

Animal gymnastsThe unforgettable evening involved groups from across the community. They were excited to perform to such a large group. Calmore Junior School involved their after-school gym club. The nearby preschool included their little Bumblebees and older children performed from the Calmore Acro Zone.

"Tonight was a community carols event", stated Pastor Lethbridge. "A lot of people just aren't into religion and church, so we want to put on a community event each Christmas that gives people the opportunity to come to something they're more comfortable with. Of course, it's also a great night for the whole community to get involved with. At the same time, they learn about Jesus in a way that isn't full on, which we've found makes them more receptive to hearing more." 

To view a selection of photos of the toobies, puppets and gymnasts, please visit the Adventist Church's picture gallery.

Watch a short highlights video of the programme below:



[Katie Allen, Photos: Darren & Katie Allen]

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14th December 2018 An Event for everyone

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