Hope United Methodist Church hosts first nativity festival

EDWARDSBURG — In the Hope United Methodist Church community center, visitors will find a special, seasonal gallery. Wednesday, December 19 through Friday Dec. 21, Hope UMC is displaying dozens of Nativity sets for their first ever community nativity festival. The festival has 58 nativity sets for visitors to view, collected from Edwardsburg residents and churchgoers from Hope, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic church and Edwardsburg Presbyterian Church.

The nativity festival is not only a first for Hope UMC, or Edwardsburg, it’s a first for all of Michiana, according to organizer Gail Campanaro. With all the firsts that the festival represents, Campanaro wanted to make it as inclusive as possible.

“We like to participate in community activities and we like to bring the community closer,” Campanaro said. “We thought it was a great way to blend the community. It gets you in the spirit of the holidays.”

The idea started with Carrie Otis, the wife of Hope UMC’s pastor, Scott Otis. The nativity festival was meant to be a new, creative way to bring the community together during the Christmas season. Even before visitors came to view the gallery, the festival achieved its goal. On display are dozens of nativity sets of many varieties, many of which are handmade and have backstories of family history, or traveling from overseas. Campanaro noted that several of the nativity sets were made in Europe, or were passed down through generations of a family.

Although there are sets of many sizes, most are table displays intended for in-home use, but the diversity of the sets will impress visitors, according to Campanaro. She was impressed by how many depictions there of one story, and she believes the Edwardsburg community will appreciate the variety as well.

“You just think of recreation of the birth, and what a marvel it would be,” Campanaro said. “Hopefully everyone is touched by that when they go through.”

Walking through the array of nativities will likely take visitors about 20 minutes, according to Campanaro. While they pass through, visitors can enjoy cookies and hot chocolate, watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, then take photos in the nativity themed photo booth. The festival is free and open for all ages. Companaro hopes the festival will stand out in Edwardsburg and become a yearly, seasonal tradition that grows and expands in its participation and varie

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