Members of Epworth United Methodist Church plan to revive a tradition from the 1990s when they stage a drive-through Nativity -- complete with live donkeys, sheep and camels -- Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17.
The event will communicate the story of Jesus Christ's birth in various scenes throughout the parking lot of the church. Cars will be directed through the visual drama, which will include actors and animals.
The church is at 5100 Karl Road in Northland. Vehicles traveling north on Karl will be directed to enter the south parking lot by a police officer.
Hours for the presentation will be 6 to 8 p.m. both days. Admission is free.
Church members presented the live Nativity scene for several years in the '90s, according to the Rev. Jennifer Casto. The project was the brainchild of longtime member William Richard "Dick" Smith, who died Sept. 18 at age 87.
"So we are doing it in memory of him this year," Casto said.
Church members were curious at first, she said, when she brought up the idea of reviving the drive-through Nativity, which builds on a drive-thru Ash Wednesday held March 1.
Now the congregation is excited about what's going to happen Dec. 16 and 17, Casto said. About 40 have signed up to be involved, from making costumes and building sets to being in the cast.
All parts, from Mary and Joseph to the Wise Men and the angels, have been double-cast so no one has to spend two hours outdoors in what's likely to be cold weather. The performers will work 30-minute shifts.
The cast will appear at six stations, each with a wooden scroll that includes a quote from Scripture, Casto said.
"It is intergenerational and multicultural, reflective of our congregation and, of course, the original story," she said. "That reflects the full investment of the congregation."
The cast includes J.P. Clowes as one of the innkeepers.
Clowes joined Epworth United Methodist during the final year of the original drive-through Nativity but was unable to participate because of his work schedule.
"It just seemed like a neat idea," he said. "It's sort of a different way to spread the joy of the season."
For Angie Taylor, who will portray one of the angels, the Nativity will be something of a family affair; her son, Jarred Taylor, is one of the actors appearing as Joseph and her daughter, Kiara Taylor, created the scrolls.
"I think it's a great idea," Angie Taylor said. "I don't know of anything around here that is like this."
Casto said the animals will be provided by Kentucky-based Honey Hill Farm.
"I, as the pastor, am excited about it," Casto said. "I cannot wait. It's going to be a wonderful way of sharing the story of Christ with the community.
"We hope this revives a tradition."