OH, COME AND ADORE HIM: Second Baptist Church prepares for 66th live nativity

It’s a tradition that’s been going on since 1955 and it’ll continue this year as Second Baptist Church holds its 66th Annual Live Nativity scene.

This year’s Live Nativity (as always) will be open to the public and will take place from 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Dec. 23 and 23 and from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 24 at 711 E. 17th.

Second Baptist Church pastor Jackie Brem says the Live Nativity is something he and the congregation looks forward to every year.

“We started this in 1955 and the way it works, we have a setup in our courtyard and we have people dress up as the different characters in the biblical era,” Brem said. “We have the wise men and the angels and we have music playing in the background with scripture being read at different intervals. People can either come and sit and listen or people can drive by and take a look at it. It’s a serene scene to be a part of. It’s great.”

While members of the church take part in the Live Nativity, Brem says they’ve had plenty of outside help every year as well.

“In the past, we’ve had some different groups in the community come and be a part of it as well as a few other churches,” Brem said. “We’ve had families take entire standings or an entire family will get different members and extend the family to take part of an entire stand.”

Roughly 60 people total take part in the event every year.

“We have four standings on the first two nights and two standings on the last night,” Brem said. “There are 11 people that are each standing and then we have people in the background and people who come take care of the animals and make sure they get out. We have people who direct the crowd where to go and we have people in our kitchen. I’d say there are about 50-60 people that take part of this and help put this together.”

Brem said that there’s no specific director of the Live Nativity, saying that everyone knows what to do when putting it on.

“It’s one of those things where it’s been going on for so long that everyone knows their task come the night of the event,” Brem said. “We have a few people that help out with the costumes and help us get dressed. We have our music minister and our sound guy and then we have a few deacons and a few other folks who intermingle with the crowd when they come.”

Real animals are also included in the Live Nativity.

“This year, we’re going to have two sheep and a goat and then we have a donkey as well,” Brem said. “We had one donkey in the past that we used to use but then we had to retire her.”

There are numerous different challenges that Second Baptist Church has faced over the years from the weather to last year’s pandemic.

“It can be different things at different times,” Brem said. “Last year, it was a little bit challenging because of COVID. We had to do things a little bit different. There are times where weather can be an issue. I had some members talk about times where they remember doing it in the snow and how they persevered through because of the message that’s proclaimed is so important.”

Jerry Robinson, who helps set up the sound system for the music at each Live Nativity has been a longtime member and has helped out with it every year.

“I’ve been involved with it ever since it started as a teenager,” Robinson said. “I was 12-13 whenever it started. I was involved with it throughout junior high and high school. I went to college and came back and have been involved with it since I came back in 1967.”

One of Brem’s favorite parts in doing the Live Nativity every year is proclaiming the message of Christmas.

“The message of Christmas is that Jesus is called the Prince of Peace so we can proclaim that message to the community and most importantly, for me, proclaiming at Christmas that Christ came to give us life and life eternal,” Brem said.