New Minas Baptist Church living nativity scene celebrates the Christmas story

Kirk Starratt
Published on December 5, 2016

Sarah and Samuel Nelson of Port Williams and their six-month-old son Elijah played Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus for the New Minas Baptist Church living nativity scene walk-through.

©Kirk Starratt

NEW MINAS, NS - It’s probably the closest thing to travelling back in time to witness the first Christmas in Bethlehem.


The New Minas Baptist Church congregation staged a living nativity scene complete with animals in their parking lot Dec. 2, 3 and 4. Visitors were invited to drive through the first two nights while a walk-through was held for the first time Dec. 4.


Marg Sawler of Berwick played a woman selling bread to the people of Bethlehem at the New Minas Baptist Church living nativity scene.

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Samuel and Sarah Nelson of Port Williams, along with their six-month-old son Elijah, played the roles of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus respectively for the walk-through. They enjoyed having so many people stop by to see the manger scene up close.

“I guess it’s a nice way to be part of telling the story to the community,” Samuel said.

Sarah said they expressed an interest in helping out and the roles were offered to them.

“I think it’s important for the community to come and see this sort of thing and know this is the reason for the season,” she said. “I’m really enjoying being on the other side of it this year.”

Sarah said she didn’t play a role last year but drove through with some friends, which was fun.

Elijah seemed to be enjoying all the sights and sounds. This was his first acting gig. Sarah and Samuel each had some experience acting from their time in high school and university.


Carol Campbell, Ann Gosman, 13-year-old Jilahni Gosman-Odinga and eight-year-old Imahni Gosman-Odinga played candle makers selling “the best candles in Bethlehem, guaranteed to last through the night” at the New Minas Baptist Church living nativity scene.

©Kirk Starratt

Pastor Daniel Cormier said they love the community and the response to the living nativity scene has been great.

“We simply wanted to celebrate the Christmas story and raise a lot of money and items for the food bank, Inn from the Cold and Open Arms. The public has responded with lots of food and donations,” Cormier said.

He said they’re grateful for people being patient with the traffic. It was a great help having the Village of New Minas allow them to use Lockhart and Ryan Memorial Park to divert traffic off Commercial Street as cars lined up for the drive-through.


Sharron Forsyth of Centreville played a woman baking bread the old fashioned way as part of the New Minas Baptist Church living nativity scene.

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He said they have an extensive property to hold a living nativity scene and an abundance of talent in the congregation.

“The church is full of amazing people,” he said. “We have prop people, actors, builders, singers, and it gives us something we can do together as a church family, too.”

Cormier, who played a shepherd, said he and some of the volunteers were at the end of the line of cars to conduct a census this year. After all, Bethlehem was “all about going to be counted in the original story.”

They collected information on how many people were in each car and how far they travelled. Cormier said people were amazed and very appreciative of all the hard work that went into the event.



12-year-old Lex Zacharias, 11-year-old Jack Zacharias, Maria Zacharias, eight-year-old Ella-Rose Zacharias and seven-year-old Maeve Bonar of Wolfville in the Bethlehem School, part of the New Minas Baptist Church living nativity scene.

©Kirk Starratt

By the numbers

-       Pastor Cormier said they had approximately 700 cars through the first two nights of the living nativity scene, 1,500 to 2,000 people.

-       Approximately 98 per cent of visitors took the time to fill out a “census” form.

-       About 200 people from the church community volunteered in some capacity.

-       Having use of Lockhart and Ryan Memorial Park gave the church an extra 1 km to work with, which was filled bumper-to-bumper with cars at certain points.

-       Cormier said they collected about 1,500 pounds of food for the food bank over the first two nights.

Members of the New Minas Baptist Church congregation perform in the angel choir at the living nativity scene.

©Kirk Starratt

Emma DeLong of Kentville with Emma the goat at the New Minas Baptist Church living nativity scene.

©Kirk Starratt