Live animals, including camels, will be present at the Jennings Road Church of Christ live nativity on Friday and Saturday. (Photo submitted)
Live animals, including camels, will be present at the Jennings Road Church of Christ live nativity on Friday and Saturday. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT – The soft glow in the night time sky on South Jennings Road this weekend will once again reflect the efforts of congregational members of the Jennings Road Church of Christ to tell the story of the birth of the Christ child.

The production has become a tradition among church members early in December each year. The entire exhibit is located in the parking lot behind the church, beginning with Roman guards, a tax collector, the inn full of visitors and the market place. This year represents the 19th year in succession that the church has gathered its members to tell the Christmas story.

The church’s pastor, David Ray, said he has been overwhelmed in recent years to arrive early to organize the event, only to discover that lines of cars are already lined up to take in the drama of the event.

Once the production begins at 6:30 p.m., those visiting are then taken out to the fields where the angels are announcing the birth of Christ, the angelic choir, Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus in the stable, finally exiting past the wise men and live camels.

“This is a very simple way of giving our appreciation gift to the community for what it means to our church,” said Pastor David Ray. “This is our families’ way of kicking off the Christmas season. We don’t put on a cantata. We put all of our energy into the meaning of Christmas in the birth of Christ and share it with the community."

“When we first started on this, we had just three stations. Over the years we have expanded on that and grown to what this has become today,” continued Ray.

In addition to church members, many high school young people from area schools and churches come to share in the exhibit, especially the musical portion, such as the angelic choir. Over the years, young people have praised the event for drawing them closer to the birth of Christ and giving them a sense of sharing the event with the community. Many have admitted they didn’t realize how personally rewarding the event would become.

“Camels, costumes and characters come to life during the annual ‘Live Nativity’ drive through presented by the Jennings Road Church of Christ,” said Ray. “Enjoy a re-creation of the time of the birth of Jesus, all from the comfort and warmth of your own car. You’ll meet innkeepers, a lively marketplace, Mary, Joseph, the newborn baby and the crowd-pleasing live camels.”

The event will be held Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The church is located at 1124 Jennings Road in Van Wert, Ohio. The event is free to the community, though donations will be accepted.