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Camel into pews, church in spotlight


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP) — A YouTube video showing a Christmas pageant camel falling sideways into church pews has put a Baptist congregation in the national spotlight – and given church leaders an unexpected media opportunity to discuss spiritual matters.

During a dress rehearsal Dec. 9 at First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., a 1,000-plus-pound camel named Lula Bell decided not to follow the script. The plan was to have Lula Bell kneel in the back of an aisle and let rider Alex Jones off so that he – playing one of the wise men – could walk to the front of the church and place his gift before Jesus.

Instead, after fighting briefly with the handler, she stood up, lost her balance and fell sideways into three pews, where college students who had been invited to a free show scrambled to get out of way. It lasted only 10-15 seconds, but for those who were in attendance, it seemed like an eternity.

Thankfully, no one – not even Lula Bell – was hurt, but the event made Lula Bell, and the church, an Internet sensation. The clip has been viewed more than 300,000 times on YouTube and been broadcast on “The O’Reilly Factor,” “Today Show,” “Anderson Cooper 360” and “Inside Edition.” While some media members have been interested only in broadcasting the clip,

others have interviewed senior pastor Jimmy Scroggins or worship leader Chuck Lewis, giving them a chance to spread the Gospel.

The extra attention helped boost attendance and sell out the shows, which took place the following three days. The pageant, “Project Christmas,” spotlighted not only the Christmas story but also orphan care. More people attended this year than last year, Scroggins said.

“We asked: How can we use it to highlight Christ and how can we use it to highlight orphan care – which is really the theme of the whole event,” said Scroggins. “[Chuck and I] agreed, we said, ‘What we’re going to do is, every time we talk to someone we’re going to talk about Christ, we’re going to talk about the Gospel and the meaning of Christmas, and we’re going to talk about orphan care, which is a biblical expression of the Gospel working itself out in our lives.”