If it exists, someone collects it, and that's true for nativities, too. What's unusual is that one church in Bella Vista has three ardent collectors, and they'll show more than 600 nativities -- "at last count" -- for three weekends in December.
"Forest Hills Church began the tradition of the nativity open house about eight years ago," Pat Kirby starts the story. "It was originally held on a Saturday afternoon in December. Two years ago, it went to Saturday and Sunday, and this year, it will be held Dec. 7-8, Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 21-22, each day from 2 to 4 p.m. There is no admission or donation -- totally free."
One Bethlehem Night
When: 2-4 p.m. Dec. 7-8, Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 21-22
Where: Forest Hills Church, 1702 Bella Vista Blvd. in Bella Vista
Cost: Free; coffee, hot chocolate and cookies are also offered at no cost
Information: 855-3555, foresthillschurch.info
FYI: The Southern Strings will play Christmas music Dec. 14. The display is handicapped accessible and always child friendly.
Kirby and her husband, Mark, are two of the trio who display their collections. So does Monica Milam who, with her husband, Larry, "worked for the government in the Panama Canal area and traveled to many of the countries where her nativities are from," Kirby says.
"Mark and I have collected for over 40 years," Kirby continues. "We collect for the medium -- having ones made from tin, wood, newspaper, ceramic and stone, among others. We have our share of traditional nativities but also love to collect the nontraditional -- cardinals, dogs, bears, to name a few. Our favorite pieces are those purchased from Fair Trade or Ten Thousand Villages. Villagers from countries around the world receive a 'fair trade' for their work."
Like any event at the church, Kirby says the desired result is to bring people together.
"Everyone from the church is involved with the display -- from setting up, baking cookies, helping in the kitchen and greeting," she says. "Forest Hills considers this our gift back to the community. No matter what you see in each nativity, we hope guests will experience the love of Christ, who came to earth as a tiny baby."
NAN Religion on 12/07/2019