Stake's creche exhibit 'is the best missionary tool we have'

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — Some 6,000 people attended the Christmas Celebration and Creche Exhibit at the Orange California Stake center here Dec. 3-6. Initiated in 1992, the exhibit, which this year included more than 500 Nativities, has become a community event.

"We estimated that well over half of those attending were non-LDS," stake Pres. Steve Hanson.

Among the creches, representing many cultures, exhibited in the cultural hall were 50 loaned by the Nuns of St. Joseph's Hospital and 75 from the women of the local Lutheran Church. A great deal of attention was given to the Nativity made by children in Kenya. All of the figures were in the tribal dress of the Northern Samburu Tribe. A marionette Nativity from the Czech Republic fascinated the crowd, especially the children. In addition, a live Nativity was enacted by several families.

Another aspect of the celebration was the children's Christmas activity room. The children were able to make their own Christmas cards, play Christmas games and become involved in many Christmas activities. Next door was a costume room where the children or families could choose their own costumes and have their picture taken against a Nativity backdrop.

At least half of the musical program was provided by the community with quartets, soloists, instrumentalists, high school concert choirs and chamber singers. An outstanding contribution was the Concert Handbells, Spirit Bells and Resound Quartet of Concordia, University of Irvine, directed by Herbert Geisler.

"This is the best missionary tool we have," Pres. Hanson said, speaking of the yearly exhibit. "The non-LDS attending receive a feeling about the Savior they have never felt before, and they associate that feeling with the Church. Lives are touched by this display."

Evidence of the truth of that statement comes from former Bishop Randy Harris who invited a co-worker to the celebration last year, and her heart was touched. She was baptized a few months later.

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