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Paynesville Press - December 12, 2001

Hawick church to present live nativity

By Michael Jacobson

Wise men A challenge from the congregation's youth led to a parish-wide project at Hawick United Methodist Church.

The project - a live nativity scene - will be shared with the public this weekend. The live nativity scene will be presented from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, and again between the same times on Sunday, Dec. 16.

The live nativity has been in the works for six weeks. It started when the adults approached the youth about doing a Christmas program. "The kids thought the adults should do the program," explained Paula Tebben, a church member who has lined up the actors for the nativity scene.

The live nativity emerged as a compromise, a project that both the youth and adults could do together. It will require 25 to 30 people per night to perform, a sizable undertaking for a small parish with only 46 adult members.

The idea to do a live nativity was brought to the church members for a vote, because they needed everyone's support, said Tebben. "It just blossomed from there," she added.

By doing the live nativity, the parish members will be taking their ministry - normally found inside the church - outside, literally, to the entire community, said church member Barb Jones, who was in charge of making costumes.

Assembling stable Church members constructed a manger using walls from an old shed belonging to Don and Barb Jones. Then they supplemented the structure with straw bales and a black backdrop. They plan to store the material so they can use it again next year if everything goes well. "We're dreaming big," said Jessica Jones.

The nativity scene will include Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, two angels, three wise men, two shepherds, and two shepherd boys. Church members will be taking turns as the actors, so everyone has chances to warm up inside.

One of the biggest jobs in preparing for the live nativity was making costumes, a task taken up by Barb Jones. She has spent two weeks making heavy costumes out of upholstery material and old drapes.

"The costumes have been fun. I've enjoyed doing it," she said. "I've already celebrated Christmas by working on costumes," she added.

The entire project has been a joint effort, stressed members of the organizing committee - Tebben, Jones, Stacy Carlson, and Troy and Brenda Caldwell. "This is how it goes," said Jones, after someone suggested putting lights on the edges of the angels' wings. "One gets an idea. Then another. It's definitely a church project."

Doing a live nativity the first time has meant more work, but just working together has been extremely rewarding. "It's kind of exciting to get everyone involved and get into the spirit of Christmas," said Troy Caldwell. "That's what the season is all about."

Church members are enthusiastic about their upcoming presentation. In addition to the live actors, the manger will include live animals, mostly from the Hawick area. So far, they have arranged to have a donkey, some sheep, some lambs, a cow, and a llama, said Caldwell, who was in charge of lining up the animals.

They really appreciate all the nonchurch members who have agreed to allow the church to use their animal for the nativity, he added.

In addition to the nativity, some church members will be forming a choir to sing Christmas carols. Other church members will be walking the streets to greet visitors and pass out literature: the Christmas story from the gospels of Luke and Matthew and the history of the candy cane.

Public members are encouraged to view the nativity scene by either driving by in their car or stopping and joining the church members in the lawn in front of the church. Because the church is situated on a corner, church members will be directing traffic to drive to the west side of town and then down the street past the church. "This is going to be the most traffic this road has seen," said Stacy Carlson.

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