Community Conversation, this Sun, 11/11, following worship

Community Conversation, this Sun, 11/11, following worship

Elders Decide Not to Have the Creche this Year

After months of discussion and careful consideration, and in light of our experience last year, the Board of Elders have decided to not have a live animal crèche this Advent season. This decision was not an easy one and came after a lot of deliberation.

The purpose of the crèche at Old First is to help us, as a congregation and church community, tell the story of Jesus’ birth, both to those within our sanctuary and those without. It tells the story of Christ’s humble birth in a manger.

Unfortunately, last year the story being told was that of a 1,500 pound cow running through the streets of Old City being chased by Pastor Michael. The Great Escape overshadowed the message we hope to convey every Christmas, and drew some significant negative and unwanted attention from animal rights advocates. We at Old First, of course, believe that a debate on moral issues like animal rights is healthy and necessary, but not at the expense of our Advent mission.

There are also very real and serious security concerns. It is still unknown whether or not Stormy escaped with human help, but there is compelling circumstantial evidence that someone tampered with the crèche gate. Based on the attention received last year, there is reason to believe that we could be subject to further breaches in security. Unfortunately, we do not have the proper resources to provide the kind of surveillance and security for the animals and our property.

This is a decision that was not taken, or come to, lightly. The Elders have been discussing what to do about the crèche all year. This is also NOT a decision on the future of the crèche for next year and the years to come. That is a discussion that will have to be had with the whole congregation. To help facilitate that discussion, we are drafting a survey for church members, as well as one for members of the neighborhood, so that we can fully understand what the crèche means to our church community.

This is not the end of the crèche, but the beginning of a broader discussion on how important it is to our church life, and whether we are willing to expend the resources (both financial and time) necessary to preserve the safety and security of the animals. We look forward to having further discussions over the weeks and months ahead.

And, of course, the Elders are hosting a community conversation this Sunday, immediately after worship to answer any questions and to begin the discussion. I hope to see you there.


Jonathan Atwood,

For the Elders