Lights twinkle in every corner of the Pines Christian Church where more than 2,500 Nativity Scenes are displayed in every room, nook and cranny of the church. The church is opening its doors for several open house events for the community during December.
Visitors wonder at the variety of Nativities. There are delicate and tiny ones that could fit in a thimble and large, carefully crafted wood sets. This year there is a special display of Nativities from countries around the world and a bulletin board “Nativity cookie cutter” display.
Catherine Saultz enjoyed a tour of the nativity displays at the Saturday Open House, “It puts you in the Christmas spirit,” commented Saultz who attends the Pines Church. She noted that people are here from all around the area and even out of state.
Saultz pointed to her friend, Lena Nichols whose son, Jeremiah was there with his family from Martinsburg, West Virginia. Saultz said the church has had the display of Nativity scenes for eight years. It started small and has grown and blossomed over the years.
Jan Johnson who helps organize the event is confident that the church has clinched the Guinness World Record for most unique Nativity scenes in a display this year. She said the present record is held by a church in Florida that had 2,150 in 2010. She believes the Pines “could have beaten that last year, but they didn’t do the paperwork.”
Johnson calls herself “addicted to collecting Nativity scenes.” She and several others in the church have whole tables full of Nativity scenes they’ve collected. Many in the church and community bring in their Nativity or tables and shelves to display the Nativities.
This week there will be an official count by two people who will have a strict group of rules to follow from the Guinness World Records. To be counted as an official Nativity for the Guinness Book of World Records, displays are required to have Mary, Joseph, Jesus and one of either: a star, a stable, an animal, an angel or a king.
Johnson, who taught third and fourth grades in Lexington for many years, said she got the idea for their church when she was in North Carolina. She read about a church where a congregation brought in their Nativity scenes for display. She thought it would be a great project for the Pines Christian Church where she attends.
The first year they had only about 50 Nativity scenes on display and about 45 visitors from outside the church visited. Johnson is amazed at how the event has grown over the years.
“We’re becoming known now,” Johnson said with a laugh. Last summer she was just looking at a Nativity set in a garage sale and the man asked, “Are you from the Pines Church?”
There will still be opportunities for the public to visit with an Open House at Pines Christian Church on Monday, Dec. 21st at 6-7 p.m. and Sat. Dec. 26th at 6-7 p.m. The church is located at 6775 U.S. Rt. 4, midway between Williamsport and Johnsville. For more information or special group showings you can call: 419-362-6903.
Alberta Stojkovic is a correspondent with the Morrow County Sentinel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.