Christ's life portrayed from 'cradle to cross' Church stages living nativity in Ferndale field NORTH COUNTY -- Linthicum * Ferndale * Brooklyn Park * Pumphrey

December 21, 1992|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

It was cold, dark and muddy in the field beside Pastor Mike Hubers' house Friday night, but the angels, shepherds and Roman soldiers milling about seemed oblivious. The members of Fellowship Baptist Church greeted each other warmly, adjusting costumes and props.

Soon, they would settle into a living nativity in the field in Ferndale, among bales of hay, sheep, a donkey and a goat.

They hoped to use the production, with elaborate props, costumes, live animals and 30 church members in 15 rotating roles, to recapture the true meaning of Christmas, explained John Yesker, who played the angel Gabriel.

"It's been lost," he lamented.

For the last week or so, Mr. Hubers' basement was converted to a dressing room for the cast members of the eight 15-minute presentations of the Christmas story, unusual in that the death, as well as the birth, of Christ is included.

"It's kind of a humbling experience to do something like this," said Carolyn DeAdder, one of three women who played Mary on different nights.

"It puts the true meaning of Christmas in a good perspective for you," added her husband, Bob DeAdder, who played Joseph. "As you go out there in the manger, you start to feel like you might be able to know what they were thinking."

The couple huddled inside, warming themselves for a few more minutes before taking their places near the manger.

Church members started planning in November for the pageant, presented on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The event attracted 800 visitors last year and 500 the year before, Mr. Hubers said.

Each year, volunteers spend days building a shanty-type stable, a wooden cross that Roman soldiers raise and lock into place with the cast member who plays Jesus seated upon it and a tomb of wood and stucco.

They rig 1,500 feet of extension cord across the yard into a trailer to power spotlights on the set.

Millersville residents, as in past years, provided a donkey, sheep and a goat, which the church houses for four days in Mr. Hubers' next-door neighbor's shed.

Three years ago, the church spent nearly $1,000 on materials so volunteers could design and sew elaborate and authentic-looking costumes. In this year's production, the Roman soldiers wore newly made helmets and swords as they shouted taunts during the crucifixion scene.

Friday night, one church member who had offered to greet visitors before each performance unexpectedly found himself part of the production when the cast came up short.

"A greeter just became a Wise Man," he joked as other church members wrapped him in a shimmering robe and headdress.

Although he had no chance for rehearsal, it wasn't much less than the other cast members, who had only one opportunity to walk through the scenes, their movements accompanied by taped narration and music and choreographed by the director, Mark Jones.

The story starts in the manger, shifts to the cross and ends with the spotlight on the tomb, symbolizing the resurrection of Christ.

"We're proud to be able to do it for the cause of Jesus Christ," Mr. Hubers said, as visitors gathered on his lawn, stopped in his garage for hot chocolate or perched on bales of hay serving as seats. "That's what Christmas is all about, from the cradle to the cross."

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