Steve Scheffer has been busy working with a crew at his church to create a “Christmas city” that will help people step away from the hectic pace of the holiday season and take time to reflect.
“We want to give people the feeling that they are walking through Bethlehem on the night that Jesus was born,” Scheffer said. “We have created a set that includes a census area, a marketplace with people wearing costumes and, of course, a stable where the baby Jesus can be found. It has been a lot of work, but if it serves as a reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season and gives someone some hope, it will be well worth it.”
Scheffer is among the volunteers at Summit Christian Church that are presenting a live Nativity, called “A Walk Through Bethlehem,” from 5 to 9 p.m. today at the church, 133 S. Hawkins Ave. The event, which is free and open to the public, is a revival of a tradition at the small Akron church.
“I remember when I became pastor of the church six years ago, people would say, ‘Oh, you’re the pastor of the church that used to have the live Nativity,’ ” said the Rev. Mike Martin. “The members here and people in the community always shared that the live Nativity, with the animals and people dressed in clothing from biblical times, were good memories.”
The original live Nativity the church offered was a drive-by that included a re-creation of the manger scene. It was discontinued about 10 years ago because the small church didn’t have enough volunteers.
This year, the congregation decided it would work to revive the tradition and make it a walk-through experience. The trek is expected to take 15 to 20 minutes, and at the end of the journey, participants are invited to listen to music and have coffee, hot chocolate and cookies inside the church.
The cookies will be the work of the children of the church and members of its Bread Ministry. The ministry also provides food for individuals and families during emergencies.
“People will have an opportunity for fellowship and to ask questions about the Christmas experience or our church,” said Kelly Sucher, who directs the Bread Ministry. “There will be music in the sanctuary, where people can go and reflect on what they experienced walking through our little Bethlehem.”
In addition to volunteers from the church dressed in period clothing, the Nativity will include live animals.
“We really want to touch our Akron community with something special,” Martin said. “The Nativity is only one way we want to reach out to the community. But it will give people an opportunity to come in and see who we are: a very loving church community.”
For more information about the church, visit www.summitchristian.org or call 330-836-2211.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.