The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 4, 2013

Church Nativities bring Christmas story to life

JOHNSTOWN — The story of Christmas has lived through the generations of human history, ever since Jesus Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem.

Two area churches will conduct living Nativity scenes to create a meaningful display and teaching tool for the season.

The Christmas story will come to life from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 13 and  14 at Windber Calvary United Methodist Church, 1800 Stockholm Ave.

Dee Fisher, event coordinator at Calvary United Metho­dist, said the congregation is building on its initial success last Christmas.

“It was fantastic,” Fisher said. “It was so simple but proved to be very meaningful.”

Men from the church built a stable, and there will be luminaries lighting a path for the cars. The youth group of Calvary, Really Outrageous Christian Kids (ROCK) will portray Mary, Joseph and an angel. Other members of the congregation will join them as shepherds, and youngsters will represent the animals.

The idea of a living Nativity was initiated by Calvary’s pastor, the Rev. John Snyder.

Snyder will portray a man who announces that the prophecy of a Messiah has come to pass.

“Last year he would approach several cars and proclaim the good news,” Fisher said.

Organizers are optimistic that the event this Christmas will surpass last year’s effort.

“We have made a few changes like adding a star over the stable and having small children portray the sheep that surrounded the manger,” Fisher said.

Visitors are asked to enter the Nativity from the Stockholm Avenue entrance of the parking lot and depart by the Veil Avenue exit. They are encouraged to park in the rear lot and take time to enjoy other activities surrounding the Nativity.

Church members will serve light refreshments in the foyer.

“We have embraced this idea as a gift to the community, and we are determined to continue to make this an annual event,” Fisher said.

Westmont Nativity

A drive-thru live Nativity will be presented from 6 to

8 p.m. Dec. 14 at Westmont United Methodist Church, 1428 Menoher Blvd.

The Rev. Kevin Rea, pastor, said the event, now in its fourth year, has been upgraded.

“We have changed some of the backgrounds and we have come up with a more concentrated design for the way we have things set up,” Rea said.

In addition to the redesigned layout, new costuming has been created for the characters.

The Nativity will feature  shepherds, wandering wise men and the manger scene.

“We also will have music, Scrip­tures and carolers handing out free cookies after people have viewed the Nativity,” Rea said.

People will enter from Menoher Boulevard, where they will be greeted by shepherds tending their flocks and searching the night sky. Large signs with Bible passages will tell the story.

In the final stage of the drive-thru, people can hear seasonal music sung by a choir and enjoy holiday cookies baked by church members.

“People can just crack open their car windows and get some cookies,” Rea said, and cookies will be available for those with dietary restrictions.

The excursion is free.

“It is a wonderful way to get in the spirit of Christmas,” Rea said.

Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on LavisTD.

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