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Friday, 09 December 2016 12:56

Live nativity coming to Janesville's Cargill United Methodist church

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JANESVILLE -- Manger scenes depicting Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus surrounded by the three wise men are popular decorations on people’s lawns during the holiday season.

However, that scene is now coming to life, because at least one area church is conducting a live Nativity scene during the upcoming weeks.

Cargill United Methodist Church, 2000 Wesley Ave. in Janesville, is hosting a live Nativity scene from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17, 2016 and Dec. 18, 2016. The Nativity scene will feature re-enactors dressed up as Mary, Joseph, the wise men and shepherds in different scenes related to the story of Christmas.

The Nativity scene also will include live animals.

"It’s a free drive-thru experience of the first Christmas," said the Rev. Susan Lockman. "As people drive by, they will see people from Cargill dressed in their roles as Mary and Joseph and the wise men. There will be animals such as camels, sheep and goats. We also give out a packet of children’s activities."

People also can walk around the Nativity scene and interact with the animals.

"It’s like a petting zoo," Lockman said. "People can get up close and pet the animals and see the manger."

The church also will host a reception in its fellowship hall, which will include craft projects, children’s activities and Christmas stories.

About 120 people from the church are involved with the event. Lockman said many people portray the characters in the Nativity scenes, while others assist with directing traffic and other activities.

"We have a full cast of characters. We change the cast every 45 minutes, so no one is out in the cold for two hours," Lockman said. "We have volunteers who greet visitors and direct traffic."

The church prepares for the Nativity scene for several weeks.

"We (recently) built the wooden structure for the drive-thru. It’s stored in the barn of one of our church members. We had five men come out and set it up. We’re starting to recruit our Marys and Josephs and shepherds and wise men," Lockman said earlier this month. "Our costume directors are busy the week prior sorting out all the costumes and finding the right apparel. When the actors arrive, we make sure they can fit in their costumes. After last year, we got new crowns and new wings for our angels."

Lockman said the event includes activities that people of all ages can enjoy.

"It’s the power of seeing the scene in person," Lockman said. "They’re seeing real people portraying the roles of the Nativity scene. It’s really moving."

Lockman said the purpose of the live Nativity scene is to allow people to experience the true meaning of Christmas.

"It’s our community outreach. It’s a way for the community to think about the birth of Christ," Lockman said. "It’s our gift to the community during the holiday season."

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