PAINTED POST, N.Y. Portraying the events of the Savior's birth in a live Nativity presented many challenges to members of the Owego New York Stake. But to Kathy Duke, then ward activities chairman of the Elmira Ward, it seemed the ideal means of helping residents in western New York add an extra dimension of spirituality to their Christmas celebration.
"I felt the guidance of the Lord continually," she said, explaining how prayer and inspiration overcame obstacles. "My motivation was to testify that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, and that He continues to live and bless."
About 30 cast and technical staff members of the Corning Branch and Elmira Ward presented a six-minute enactment with four-minute intervals between performances on Dec. 5.
The live Nativity was staged in front of the prominent brick archway that lines the entrance to the world headquarters of Corning Inc. The seclusion offered a peaceful setting from the nearby loud music, street vendors and large crowds. An estimated 1,000 visitors turned off of the main street and walked half a block to the arch to witness the enactment.
Some in the audience said it reminded them of the true meaning of Christmas, said Charlene Holland of the Corning Branch. Others expressed their gratitude for the spirituality of the program. Local members of the Church were told by friends how they appreciated the serenity and beauty of the portrayal.
Max and Mari Bliss, who portrayed Joseph and Mary, said the live Nativity opened new insights into the lives and feelings of Joseph and Mary, and also how the Nativity "increased the closeness of the branch and ward members."