Nativity scenes come alive at Cornersburg church

By Sean Barron


Despite having no acting experience, Kelsey Santangelo successfully pulled off a performance of holy proportions.

“I was in church this Sunday and they said they had one Mary and needed two, so I offered,” the Canfield woman explained, referring to having portrayed Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, as part of Sunday’s Live(ok uppercase) Nativity gathering at Zion Lutheran Church, 3300 Canfield Road in Cornersburg.

She was in the first of four 20-minute outdoor performances that, despite a temperature hovering around 30 degrees, drew dozens of people and that focused on the life of Jesus Christ as told in the Book of Luke.

Music, narration, actors dressed as shepherds and angels, and animals such a yak, a mule and a single- and a double-humped camel recounted the story that began with the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary and Christ’s conception and ended with the visitation of the Magi, often referred to as the Three Wise Men who, according to Christianity, visited Christ after his birth and brought gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Santangelo, a Youngstown State University sophomore majoring in business administration, enjoyed being part of the Nativity event, in its 33rd year, and admitted having been a bit nervous about the role. She had very little rehearsal time and one run-through to prepare, said Santangelo, a 14-year member of the church.

Nevertheless, among those pleased with Santangelo’s performance were her parents, Vince and Chris Santangelo.

Also a bit surprised but impressed with the re-enactments and turnout was the Rev. Duane Jesse, Zion’s pastor since May.

They worked on this for months,” the Rev. Mr. Jesse said. “Who knew that 60 to 70 people would show up for the [first] performance.”

The four Nativity performances were part of a church community-outreach program and intended to increase attendees’ holiday spirit while also offering a hot meal and plenty of fellowship, said Tom Gent, director.

“We wanted to show people the birth of Jesus through a play,” Gent said before preparing for the next show.

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