Owensboro Cumberland Presbyterian Church prepping for 21st live Nativity

Dec. 3—For two decades, Owensboro Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 910 Booth Ave., has been hosting a live Nativity, which depicts the birth of Jesus with his mother, Mary, and her husband, Joseph.

And it will return for its 21st year on Dec. 10 and 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. on both nights.

Jan Catron, a Cumberland Presbyterian Church member for over 40 years, has been organizing the two-hour event, inspired by the Gospels found in Matthew and Luke.

Catron said she originally saw the live Nativity idea online, and then brought the idea to the church's pastor — the Rev. Tim McGuire.

"At our church location on Booth Avenue, we have a perfect area where you can just drive through," she said.

Authenticity was another important aspect of their manger scene, which also meant including live animals such as donkeys, goats and a camel.

For years, the church's Nativity animals were provided by Valorie Smith of Central City. She brought the first camel named Humphrey but it passed away two years ago. The church now contracts with Jeff Baird of Morgantown.

Before they added the actual camel, Catron said the church improvised.

"Before the days of the camel, we had a llama that we put pillows on with a blanket to make it look like a camel."

Along with the animals, it takes about 30 people from the church to fill the various roles.

Cast members work in shifts, changing out after the first hour. There is also more than one scene — the first being the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the second at the inn and the third inside the manger.

And through loudspeakers, audio is played for the scene narration.

Catron said cold temperatures are the norm, and the live Nativity typically operates regardless of the weather.

"We've learned, if it's raining, we just pull all of the scenes under our drive-thru area so it's covered," she said. "Out of the 21 years, only one Sunday we couldn't do it because the roads were too icy."

During the two nights, Catron estimated anywhere between 200 to 500 cars will come through.

There is no charge to view the Nativity.

Catron said that the live Nativity will remain an important ministry for the church.

"For one thing, it's a family tradition for a lot of people and we feel it's our gift to the community to tell the true story of Christmas," she said.