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'Living Nativity' is church's gift to community

December 18, 2010|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • St. Andrew Presbyterian Church's production of "The Living Nativity" Saturday night in Williamsport.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

WILLIAMSPORT — At 16, Darin Coyle is a veteran, having been a performer in the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church production of "The Living Nativity" for more years than he can remember.

"I started as an angel and worked my way up," said Darin, who has portrayed Joseph the past three seasons at the Williamsport church. This year, he was paired with a rookie performer, 15-year-old Megan Nicley as Mary.

Temperatures were in the mid-50s in Bethlehem Saturday night, but more than 9,000 miles to the west, Mary, Joseph and the rest of the cast were having to deal with considerably chillier weather.

As this most familiar of holiday stories played out before them, families huddled together under blankets on bales of hay while others sat in the relative warmth of their vehicles.

"It was great. We come here every year," said Melissa Hahn, who was accompanied by her husband, Eric, and their children, Ally, Maddy and Colten.

"The baby liked the goat," Hahn said of her 2-year-old son, Colten. She said the family lives near the church and has been coming for about eight years.

The donkey seemed to have a moment of stage fright or stubbornness, refusing to walk from the inn to the stable.

"I think it was just beautiful. They put so much effort into it," said Ginny Emerson of Clear Spring, who brought grandchildren Brooke and Kevin Emerson of Bel Air, Md.

In the church basement between the 6 and 7 p.m. shows, the cast warmed up and grabbed a bite to eat before the second performance. From actors and those who worked on the sets and costumes to the parking attendants, the show involves 50 or more members of the congregation, Pastor Mark Sandell said.

"This is our gift to the community ... It really is to proclaim our Lord," Sandell said after the first performance.

"The Living Nativity" is a long-standing tradition of St. Andrew, performed with only a couple of interruptions since the church was founded in the early 1960s, he said.

"It's one of the things that defines St. Andrew," Sandell said.

"The Living Nativity" can be seen again today with performances at 6 and 7 p.m. at the church at 10183 Donelson Drive.

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