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Living nativity

More than 60 people will gather in front of Ironton’s Central Christian Church Thursday, Friday and Saturday to portray scenes for a living nativity.

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

More than 60 people will gather in front of Ironton’s Central Christian Church Thursday, Friday and Saturday to portray scenes for a living nativity.

"We’ve actually scaled back on the size of the nativity this year," said Mark Compston, coordinator of the living nativity. In the past, the nativity has had up to seven separate scenes.

Only four crucial scenes from the story of Jesus’s birth will be in the nativity this year.

"We reduced the size so that we could get the focus back on the Christmas story," Compston said. "Next year we may decide to add to it again."

One scene takes place on the streets of Bethlehem as Mary and Joseph search for an inn. A second shows angels visiting the shepherds to herald the birth of Christ. There are also a manger scene and a scene showing the Three Wise Men following the Christmas star.

Separate actors are used in each scene. Compston said that each night, about 40 people will play the roles of Mary, Joseph, the wise men, the angels, the shepherds, street vendors, Roman soldiers and other inhabitants of Bethlehem. Music and a narrative run through the story, so that as a pedestrian passes there is verbal accompaniment.

Compston said that putting on the living nativity takes a lot of preparation.

"We started planning for this in August. The real work started in October, when we started fixing the costumes and the sets."

The scenes were set up last weekend, although heavy winds Monday night blew most of them over. Volunteers from the church were out Tuesday afternoon setting them back up and making repairs.

Compston said that all the extra work is worth it. In the past, the church has estimated that several thousand people would walk or drive past to see the nativity.

"I talked to a woman from Florida who plans her Christmas vacation around the nativity so that she can see it," he said.

The living nativity runs Thursday through Saturday from 7-8:15 p.m. in front of Central Christian Church at the corner of South Seventh Street and Ellison.