Be sure and take time to visit one of our church’s cherished traditions, the placing of the outdoor nativity scene just outside the front door of the church–a perfect “picture spot” for you and your family. Take time to learn about the rich history of our figures in the article below.
The life-size depiction of the Holy Family at the manger has long been a part of the First United Methodist Church’s Christmas tradition. The figures in the nativity scene are believed to have been made in Italy and were brought to Grassyfork Fisheries in perhaps the 1930’s or 40’s. For many years it was displayed on the lawn in front of the Grassyfork World Headquarters on West Morgan Street, which at that time was St. Rd. 37 leading into Martinsville. Sometime in the 1950’s Grassyfork was no longer planning to display it and church member Stan Byrum facilitated the donation of the crèche to FUMC.
Over the years the men of the church would erect the display and then move it to storage after Christmas. A variety of locations served as storage—church members’ barns, the basement of Home Bank, and most recently the Paul & Sherry Hoss property near Mooresville. It was quite a sight for motorists to see the family, angels and animals traveling along highway 37 on trailers and in pickups. Age, the effects of weather and yearly moving all took a toll on the figures as can be seen in some of the photos on the display board. In 2008, with the move to our present location, it was time to either scrap it or refurbish it.
Through the generosity of several church members, funds were raised and the Smith brothers boat business was contracted to re-mold and re-fiberglass the figures. This extensive project of several months resulted in the white re-surfaced figures seen in the display photos. Local artist Kathryn Maxwell and church member Mary McQueen then used old photos to recapture the original colors and facial expressions of each figure. The wooden portion of the display was rebuilt by church member Earl Scrougham. With the 2016 gift of the new pole barn behind the church, the display will no longer travel up and down the highway.
Thanks to all who helped save this wonderful tradition of FUMC to be enjoyed by our members, the community and all those who travel past our church during the Christmas season.