Community Meeting Regarding Old First’s Live Nativity
Sunday, January 14, 12:15 pm
Old First United Church of Christ, 4th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
Stormy the cow’s escape onto city streets last Thursday, Dec. 14 has brought unusual attention — even international notice — to Old First’s live nativity, an Old City tradition since 1973.
Stormy is safe. We are particularly thankful for the help of the city’s police and animal control. She is now back in the pasture on her farm.
Since the news stories of her escape, visits to our live nativity are noticeably higher. Many people have shared how much they enjoy the animals’ annual visit to Old City. We are getting calls, visits, e-mails, and letters of support.
The media attention has also occasioned messages of concern. An organized voice of opposition has arisen to the animals at the corner of 4th and Race Street. People have called, stopped by, and written to share their concerns for the animals’ well-being.
While Old First and the farmer who provides the animals are confident that the cow, donkeys and sheep are well cared for and not stressed or suffering during their three weeks in our nativity shelter, we recognize and appreciate the passion and civic engagement of people who are worried for them. Our pastor wrote as much in last week’s column for our weekly newsletter, “All Are Welcome.”
Old First is a democratically-organized community wherein all its members have a voice and a vote. We make decisions together, most often by consensus. In the busy-ness of preparing for Christmas, it has been impossible for the congregation to meet and consider what has happened and what we might do in the future. However, we expect the live nativity will be a topic of discussion for the congregation in 2018.
Similarly, we support individuals’ freedom of speech, and their activism to stand for what they believe is right. We are a congregation whose members are often involved in what they understand to be protests for justice. As a community, we have been grateful for how the church’s Facebook page in the last week has become a venue for discussion of the care of animals, North American farming practices, and the consumption of meat. We would like to strengthen that exchange of ideas. We are calling a Community Meeting on Sunday, January 14 at 12:15, in our sanctuary at 4th & Race Streets. Individuals will be welcome to share their concerns and opinions of the live nativity and how we use the crèche to tell the Christmas story.
Everyone is welcome to come and participate.