Live nativity tradition at Starkdale in third year

The third-annual Live Nativity at Starkdale Presbyterian Church in Steubenville is scheduled for Dec. 15, with six presentations repeated every half-hour starting at 5 p.m. with the final one beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Live Nativity is an indoor-outdoor production about the birth of Jesus, followed by an opportunity to pet animals, meet the actors and enjoy refreshments in the fellowship hall, according to a church spokesperson.

“This year is especially exciting with the addition of a camel, Gretchen, that comes from Stump Hill Farms in Massillon. Gretchen is sure to add even more authenticity to the production,” the spokesperson said, noting there will be other live animals as in years past.

The journey begins at the “Bethlehem Inn” where guests are greeted by inn keepers Sarah and Rachael. The two women and a Centurion guard will be on hand to register every person per order of Caesar Augustus.

The guests are then summoned by a shepherd and led into the sanctuary where shepherd Bob Burns begins the narration of the birth of Christ.

A “little angel,” Olivia Chanoski, appears to the crowd and sings “Mary Did You Know.” Keith Murdock will lend his voice in a solo, and the Starkdale Choir, directed by Carolyn Glaub, appears as a myriad of angels and performs a medley of hymns.

The guests are then led outside where they view the manger scene consisting of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Two angels, Vicki Littlejohn and Faith Bauman, will continue the narration and lead the crowd in singing Christmas carols.

The Three Kings also make an appearance as they bear gifts to all in attendance.

Finally, guests are treated to homemade cookies prepared by the Starkdale congregation and hot drinks.

Jane Gambos, outreach chair and director of the production, said, “The Live Nativity is one of the church’s ways of sharing the gift of Jesus Christ. It is our gift to the community at large free of charge.”

Last year’s attendance was more than 350. In anticipation of another high turnout, a shuttle van will be available to accommodate even more guests this year. Parking will be made available at the top of Riesbeck’s grocery store directly behind the Wintersville McDonald’s.

For information about the production or other Starkdale activities, contact the church office at (740) 264-5309 or visit