What better way to usher in Christmas week than a real live Christmas Pageant, complete with Mary, Joseph, their donkey, the Innkeeper, kings, shepherds, angels, and, of course, barnyard animals?
This past Sunday, the children of Gloria Dei! Lutheran Church provided the community with a memorable musical production about the beauty and wonder of the Nativity. Under the direction of the church's music director, Debbie Greene, and church member and musician Sally Burns, dozens of children, from preschool to the teen years, performed musical numbers and dramatic readings recalling the wonder of the season.
Their musical, titled "On Our Way to Bethlehem," followed Mary and Joseph's journey, as well as the journey of all of the participants in the Nativity story. Performers sang familiar favorites, like "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow" and "Angels We Have Heard on High," as well as new musical numbers like "The Gifts We Bring," relaying the idea that all of us have something to offer, whether it's an egg from the chicken, some hay from the cow, frankincense and gold, or our very own hearts.
Children with speaking roles in the program included:
Narrators: Julia Tingle, Kaitlyn Renfrow, Stephanie Kocka, Julianna Marshall, Victoria Williams;
Joseph and Mary: Patrick and Maria White (with donkey Abby Rogers);
Innkeeper and Wife: Sam Phillips and Ashleigh Shannon;
Shepherds: Aidan McCamish, Jarret Heckert, Donny Phillips, Robby Dubinski;
Angels: Morgan Carew, Brianna Sanders, Molly Frueh, Braedyn Heckert, Ana Dreibelbis, Kristina Williams;
Sheep: Aiden Gilroy and Paxton Ochiltree;
Kings: Katie Dubinski, Ben Marshall, Jonathan Sager;
Cow: Sarah White; Rooster: Lydia McCamish; Hen: Ella Shannon.
The church's youth choir led the music performances. Members are: Sara Anderson, John Dieterle,Kaitlyn Rentfrow, Melissa Rentfrow, Stephanie Kocka (soloist) , Paige Ruden (soloist), Lauren Burns, Maria White, Celia Larrabee, Erica Swain, Victoria Williams and Kelcey Hilz.
"The church had a base supply of costumes and parents either provided their own or embellished using what we had and their creative ideas," said Greene. "The scenery was also very elaborate. The set was designed and put together by Chary Izquierdo and her husband Jack Kocka."
As the pageant concluded, the cast and the congregation joined together in a majestic arrangement of "Joy to the World" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and all left feeling the spirit of Christmas was alive and well.