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Worldwide view of nativity scene

Festival celebrates many interpretations

POSTED: December 5, 2013 3:08 p.m.

Regardless of which church you attend, it’s likely you have heard the story behind the Christmas season. But some people need reminding.

To help people remember the story of the holy birth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Gainesville is holding its eighth annual Festival of the Nativity.

The event features 850 nativity scenes collected by church and community members arranged inside of the church. Several choirs and individuals will perform. A children’s nativity room features toy nativity sets for small children to play with. Refreshments will be served.

The church, 1234 Riverside Drive, Gainesville, will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 5-7, and 2 -9 p.m. Dec. 8.

For groups interested in viewing the display that cannot come during regularly hours, call 770-313-9014.

Each of the nativities are unique and many have come from around the world. Some 3,000 people are expected to attend over four days.

“Our event is a unique Christmas event in North Georgia,” said church member and Gainesville councilman George Wangemann. “There are so many live nativities, but never has a church done the same thing we’re doing with nativity sets from all around the world.”

Wangemann, whose family started the event with 30 nativities eight years ago, said there is a “strong possibility” the festival will take a break next Christmas season but for now he hopes people recognize the church’s “gift to the community.”

“We have a very strong belief in Jesus Christ,” Wangemann said. “We want the whole world to know that we are Christians and I think some people think we are not Christians. I think this display sends a strong message to people throughout the area that we are definitely Christians and we do believe in the virgin birth and we do believe in Jesus Christ as our savior and redeemer.”


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