For the past four years, parishioners at the West Scarborough United Methodist Church have been hosting a live outdoor Nativity, proving that even after being opened for more than 200 years, new traditions can begin.

“It’s become almost a holiday tradition for some people,” said Rev David Calhoun. “Really it’s our gift back to the community.”

Calhoun first suggested the live Nativity after coming to the church from Nebraska, where his former church always held one. None of the parishioners could remember holding a live Nativity, but felt it was a good idea.

Many of those who first volunteered again came forward this year to don a robe and stand outside in the manger on the side of the church to recreate the events believed to have occurred during the birth of Jesus.

Sue Williams and Kim Mincher have been dressing up for the Nativity since it began and said they come back each year because it has become a tradition.

“We were the original wise men,” said Williams.

It also is a tradition for many area residents to stop by the church to witness the scene. One of the first people to stop by the manager Sunday night was Scarborough resident Linda Faber-Shields, who was on her way home from picking-up a Christmas tree.

“I love nativities and I wanted my daughter to see it,” she said.

It takes about 40 parishioners to make the Nativity successful, Calhoun said. Some people assist with the construction of the manager while others help with the animals and perform ot behind the scenes tasks. The majority of people volunteer as part of the Nativity, playing the role of shepherds, angels and wise men.

“We try to get as many people involved as possible,” Calhoun said. “We try to have two or three of everything because people need a chance to warm-up.”

Finding people to volunteer is not a problem, Calhoun said and usually people are more than happy to get involved. Linda Biddler, who was dressing up as a shepherd, volunteered after a request was made at that day’s service and said it sounded like fun.

Planning and work on the Nativity started in early November and continued until the weekend. Calhoun said the Nativity is a lot of work and described the process as a “labor of love.”

The nativity begins at 5 p.m. and for the next two hours the participants stand in the manager. While the people do not stand as still or straight as statues, they do attempt to keep a dignified appearance to pay the proper respect to the scene and for those who stop by to witness their work, Calhoun said.

All of the time and effort the church puts into the nativity is rewarded when hundreds turn out to watch them. Calhoun greets most passers by with candy canes, an invitation to visit the church during the holiday, and a greeting.

“This is one place we can say Merry Christmas with a smile,” he said.

Denis Netto feeds a calf during the live Nativity at the West Scarborough United Methodist Church on Sunday. Despite the brisk weather the West Scarborough United Methodist Church did not have any problems finding volunteers for its live Nativity last weekend. The Three Wise Men as portrayed by parishioners at the West Scarborough United Methodist Church.

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