Federated Church of Willington hosts ‘Live Nativity’ on Christmas Eve

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Willington - posted Thu., Dec. 26, 2013
Mary, portrayed by Hannah Dancosse, cradles the infant Jesus. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Mary, portrayed by Hannah Dancosse, cradles the infant Jesus. Photos by Annie Gentile.

It’s not uncommon for many Christian churches this time of year to erect a nativity display, but members and friends of the Federated Church of Willington at 132 River Road have taken things up a notch.

“For a few years a couple of us said, ‘Hey, why don’t we have a Live Nativity?’ Finally we just did it,” said Tom Smith, a church member who was then serving on the church’s Board of Christian Outreach. “We worked with the Christian Ed. Board and others in our church to see it through,” he said. “The point is to kind of refocus the season, and specifically Christmas Eve and Christmas, on the birth of Christ and all that that means.”

“I think we’ve done it now for two or three years, although we took a break last year,” said the Rev. Del Hickson. “It’s something special we like to do to get in the spirit of Christmas and remind people of the birth of Jesus. Route 32 is a pretty busy road, so it gets people’s attention,” he said.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, in the midst of a snow storm, church members erected the crèche. On Christmas Eve, starting at 4:30 p.m., members including children, teens and adults took turns filling in as Mary and Joseph, the three wise men, shepherds and angels. As it would be far too cold out for a real baby, a small doll was employed as the infant Jesus. Church members also volunteered to read the Christmas story and a singer performed a song at the close of the event.

“It’s casual and it’s fun to be in costume. We’ve had [the costumes] for years and have added to them as needed,” said Hickson. “My family is pretty involved in it. My daughter is usually an angel and my son a shepherd, and for some reason I always seem to end up being a wise man,” he said.

The nativity also includes an assortment of animals each year. Prior to Christmas Eve, Hickson said for the past few years they had a little pony named Minnie, but they wouldn’t be having her this year. However, they did expect to have some chickens, cows and possibly sheep or goats.

The Live Nativity runs each year until 7:30 p.m., when the church holds a candlelight Christmas Eve service.

“We hope that those driving by will pause for just a moment to think about Jesus,” said Smith. “We hope that those that attend our worship service at the conclusion of the Live Nativity will find meaning in it as well. It is also a time for those taking part to reflect on the gravity of what they are acting out, both young and old,” he said.

“We enjoy it,” said Hickson. “Not everyone has the time to go to church, and we hope the nativity helps to encourage them a little bit. We’ll probably be doing it every year for a good long time.”

The Federated Church of Willington is made up of two churches. From September until the end of April, services are held at 10 a.m. at the Hall Memorial Church at 132 River Road (Route 32) in Willington, and from early May until late September at the Hill Church on the corner of Route 320 and Route 72. All are welcome. For more information, visit the website http://www.fedchurchwillington.org/.

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