Campus Lutheran decorates for Christmas with hundreds of Nativity scenes

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With more than 250 Nativity scenes on display, Campus Lutheran Church experienced a crèche craze on Friday.

“If you walk around and look at them, you’ll see that they represent a lot of different cultures,” the Rev. Art Simmons said.

“Each culture puts their own spin on the Nativity story. In our culture, there are even several humorous sets.”

Garden gnomes, gingerbread men and Eskimos in an igloo stable were among the settings in the display, which took place Friday and Saturday.

For the second year, the congregation collected the Nativity scenes in only three weeks, and there wasn’t a single repeat in the bunch.

Each includes a card detailing who brought it, how long they have owned it and how it came into their possession.

Simmons brought in a set featuring rubber ducks.

“My niece gave that to my wife and I, and we had never seen anything like it,” he said.

Many of the Nativity scenes are made from wood or clay materials, and designs ranged from simplistic, block characters to intricate and delicate carvings.

Tables featured everything from a store-bought Fisher Price toy set to miniature snow globes to knit sets made entirely by hand.

There was even one that told the classic birth of Jesus story with the push of a button.

“It’s remarkable creativity to take something as simple as the Nativity scene and do it this many different ways,” Simmons said. “It’s very fascinating,

The event also served an educational function.

“One really good outcome of this — we didn’t necessarily think of it when they planned this — is using the sets in our English pronunciation class for internationals,” Simmons said.

“A lot of them are not Christians, so we use these sets to explain what Christians believe, what Christmas means to Christian people.”

The idea for this event originated five years ago in Anchor Point, Alaska, where members of the congregation were on a vacation Bible school mission trip. They mentioned they had collected many Nativity scenes over the years, and the idea of displaying them together was born.

Because the scenes were displayed on tables overlaying the church pews, the event could only be held for two days this year. A new fellowship hall is under construction, however, with more display space available for an extended run in years to come.

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