The annual live nativity will be held at Christ United Methodist Church, 1359 Pennsylvania Ave., Tyrone for two weekends, starting this week. It is free and open to the public to enjoy.
The nativity, featuring live actors, will be behind the church building in the parking lot off of 14th Street, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, December 13 and 14, and Friday and Saturday, December 19 and 20.
The live nativity shows the story of the birth of Christ at Bethlehem, as Christmas music plays in the background.
“For me, it is a wonderful opportunity to share the birth of our Savior in a way that words cannot,” said Pastor Tina Hawkins, who is in her first year with the church.
The nativity has been a tradition at this time of the year at least since 1964, when it was put on in a downtown storefront window (Montgomery Ward) at Pennsylvania Avenue. Church members portrayed Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, and the shepherds. The pastor was Rev. Norman L. Marden.
The nativity set up in 1974 included 12 lighting changes and three live animals, and most of the work was done by senior high parishioners of the Youth Fellowship, plus junior high members and youth from other community churches. The First Evangelical Church at one time also put on a live nativity scene.
Church Administrative Assistant of 11 years, Margi Gneiss, said she knew the nativity was held in the ‘60s and 70s, and that it was put back together by parishioner Brian Morrissey of Bellwood. Six years ago, he recreated the stable and set up lights, and since then, wooden animals were made to go around the stable.
This year, a group of men put the stable together on Black Friday, and it will stay in place through next weekend’s scheduled shows. Gneiss said many touches have been added to the original stable, with finishings such as lights and a star. Morrissey has spent time, around a full-time job in Claysburg, working on the stable, rehearsals, and costume-fittings for the actors.
“All the characters in the live nativity are members of our church, and some from Wesley [United Methodist Church], all volunteers,” said Gneiss. “Quite a bit of people and children come to this.”
Community members may come and go as they please from the live nativity set up this weekend and next weekend.