Away in a mangerNativity sets featured this weekend at Westminster
WORTHINGTON — As the Advent season draws near, Nativity sets will be brought out for display at churches throughout the region
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As the Advent season draws near, Nativity sets will be brought out for display at churches throughout the region.
One local church, however, will be completely overtaken with images of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger — and don’t forget the shepherds, wise men and assorted animals — already this coming weekend. A Nativity Experience, featuring more than 200 Nativity sets, will be Friday and Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Worthington.
Started in 2008, this is the event’s fifth showing, and organizers say it has expanded each year with something new to entice repeat visitors. This time, several auxiliary rooms will be utilized in addition to the church’s main Geneva Hall. One woman’s collection of angels will fill up the church’s library.
During the first year, Nativity sets were solicited just from members of the congregation. But now the manger scenes come from throughout the local community and beyond. The organizers stay overnight at the church to ensure the safety of all the borrowed treasures.
A new contributor to this year’s display is Barb Uit de Flesch of rural Fulda, who attended last year’s event and subsequently offered her own collection.
“That was awesome to see so many,” said Uit de Flesch about how impressed she was by the display. “And there were so many different ones, not that many alike.”
Uit de Flesch’s own collection began with a single Nativity set about 25 years ago and has really expanded over the last few years.
“It just kind of evolved,” she explained. “I’d always liked them, and every now and then I’d find one and take it home.”
Many of Uit de Flesch’s sets come from auctions and flea markets, but she’s also received a number as gifts.
“One set was given to me by my aunt and uncle, Mary and Gib Obermoller,” she said. “She made the Nativity pieces, and he made the stable. That one is very special to me. My husband gave me a really beautiful one that’s just one piece — Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus —made by a gal who does ceramics in Fulda.”
Each holiday season, Uit de Flesch sets up all her Nativity sets in her home, although she admits that she is starting to run out of room.
“A friend suggested leaving one or two up during the year and see who notices, so I’ve been doing that,” she said.
Organizers of the event have set aside an entire table for display of Uit de Flesch’s manger scenes.
A Nativity Experience will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 230 Clary St. An admission fee is charged. Coffee, hot cider and Christmas goodies will be served. The east entrance to the church is handicapped accessible.
Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.