Mary and Joseph search for room on London council estate


 The story of Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay in Bethlehem, will be re-enacted on the streets of a south London council estate next Sunday. With a real donkey - 'Noel' who lives at the Dene City Farm - and accompanied by a children's choir, singing carols, Mary and Joseph, will walk through the Wycliffe Estate in Battersea, knocking on doors of several flats, who will all turn them away. When they reach a patch of green, where young shepherds are watching their flocks, two angels, amidst a blaze of fireworks, will announce the birth of Jesus, and the procession will return to Tynham Close flats, where a crib will have been set up. The evening will end with a celebration at the flats, with dishes provided by local residents including some Moslem refugees. The day is a double celebration as it also marks the end of Ramadan and the festival of Eid. The project was dreamed up by members of the local Baptist, Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches, who are working together with some non church-going teenagers from the area. One of the organisers, Rev Ann Luther, from Clapham Baptist church said: "At first we thought about staging the play in a hall, but then we felt it would be more fun, and involve more members of the community if we went out onto the estate." Kristina Cooper, from St Vincent de Paul's Catholic church said: "People have been great. We've been really pleased at the response we've had from young people helping with publicity, building sets and making costumes and others offering to do food. The police and the council have also been very supportive." Tuande Oyedele, youth co-ordinator with the Jesus Everlasting Foundation Ministry Pentecostal church said last night: "We're getting really excited now. We had a big rehearsal today. The music sounded so good. It's the first time we've ever done anything like this on the estate and everyone is really enjoying it." The event takes place next Sunday 16 December from 4.30 - 6.30pm.

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