For more than a decade, Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church has been offering the community a chance to share in the Christmas story, through their Live Nativity.
“We were brainstorming one day. In one of those God-moments, somebody out of the goodness of their hearts dumped this used pile of lumber on the back of the church property and thought we would use it for bonfires,” recalled Duncan Cornell, who created the event with Youth Director Christina Wilson. “It happened in the fall of the year. I looked at it, and one thing led to another and I thought, ‘Boy, this old haggard wood would be perfect for this.’”
“That’s one of the things I love about our nativity scene. A lot of people build them, and they look too nice and new. Ours doesn’t. If you squint your eyes, it can take you back 2,000 years.”
This year, the living nativity will be held on Dec. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. on the property adjacent to the church.
“Everything is free,” explained Coordinator Jim Klinedinst, adding that baked goods provided by Patty McCarthy and other members of Mariner’s. “There’s a hospitality table right out next to the nativity where the hot chocolate and baked goods are. There are bales of hay for people to sit on. There’s also a fire for those that might like to warm up.”
Viewers are free to come and go as they please during the event, as the story will be told every twice an hour.
“Every half-hour, different characters will come in and the story is retold and carols are being sung throughout the event,” said Klinedinst. “People are welcome to come at any time and see the story being told.”
Cornell added that the event is open to any and all who wish to attend.
“We try to be very inclusive,” he said. “It’s just one of many things we do in our ministry. If anybody wants to become involved, stop on by.”
Kinedinst said that approximately 100 people volunteer to be a part of the living nativity, and that it is always well attended.
“I know last year it was well-received when we had it outside the church, and it always has been. The community comes out to enjoy a nice evening and take in the nativity story and some homemade goods.”
“We seem to have steady crowds year after year. It’s an important part of the Christian walk,” added Cornell.
Klinedinst and Cornell both said they hope the community will come out again this holiday season to witness the story of Christ’s birth.
“It’ll be a nice evening to see the telling of the nativity story, Christ’s birth and enjoy some fellowship with members of the community,” said Klinedinst.
“The biggest joy I get out of it is the look in the kids’ eyes and the adults with a tear in their eye,” said Cornell. “If we get one person to come to church on Sunday because of it, we’ve reached our goal. That’s what it’s all about. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; we’re not trying to outdo anybody. We just want to say, ‘Hey, community — come witness this miracle.’”
Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church is located at Route 26 and Central Avenue, in Ocean View. For more information, call (302) 539-9510.