The Living Christmas Tree at Foothills Baptist Church in Ahwatukee Foothills has built up a strong following in the years since the production began.

One of only a handful of living trees in the Phoenix-metro area, Foothills Baptist Church's event draws people from all over the Valley, an employee of the church said.

Housed in the church's main auditorium, the Living Tree and stage can hold up to 150 people at a time. This year, in addition to the performances of all the church choirs, they will be staging a play about an American soldier returning from Afghanistan.

The young man lost his friend to the violence of war and comes home and has to cope with talking to his friend's family. The story will be mirrored by one that involves two wise men.

"He's coming home and seeing his friend's family for the first time, he has to reconcile his faith in God," said Penny Wilson, church administration assistant. "It is a good story about how the Lord provides peace and comfort in a time like that."

The detailed structure is erected in a day and stands over 30 feet tall.

"People are amazed when they walk in and see this huge structure in the center of the room," Wilson said. "It's something people really look forward to, and many churches bring groups of people from their congregation to see it."

The event will take place on Dec. 9, 10 and 11 and starts at 7 p.m. It is free to the public, but the church is asking for donations to benefit the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief.

"It is not mandatory at all, but the donations will go to a great cause," Wilson said. "It's something people really look forward to, and many churches bring groups of people from other congregations to see it."

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