Church sets up unique Nativity scene

Mission Ministry Outreach is hosting first nativity scene drive-through Dec. 2.

On a rainy Thursday night, Pastor Fannie Dean transformed into a DIY artist, moving around the room at Mission Ministry Outreach to fix the Virgin Mary’s wig, paint a landscape on a giant poster or collect a head that had just fallen off the neck of one of the Three Wise Men.

Despite having less than 48 hours to get everything ready for the event, Pastor Dean was confident in her abilities and in God’s help. The imminent deadline only made it more exciting to her, and her enthusiasm felt easily contagious.

“It gives me a chance to paint and play again,” said Dean, who was emboldened to be ordained in 1989 and started Mission Ministry Outreach in 1990, but always had a knack for creativity.

As she sat down to paint the outline of a tower, Dean pointed with pride at the ethnically diverse Nativity Scene behind her, which will be displayed between 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 for the ministry’s first nativity scene drive-through, located at 1751 Goldie Road in Oak Harbor.

To Pastor Dean, diversity and peaceful coexistence are very important. She expressed sadness at the hate that people can have for each other, and wished for everyone to love each other like Jesus did. In hopes to offer people a different perspective and to spread some love, she came up with the idea of a diverse nativity scene.

“All people are important, and Jesus was born out of love,” she said. “Let’s mix the thing up! Like making pudding.”

Everyone is invited to come to the ministry’s parking lot to learn more about the origins of Christmas, and to appreciate Pastor Dean’s tall and fabulous nativity scene characters, made with mannequins.

The event will take visitors on a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which will be narrated and enriched by some scenery created by Pastor Dean as Christmas carolers perform. For the sake of historical accuracy and cuteness, there will also be live farm animals — including a lamb — brought by Bell’s Farm, an ethical and sustainable farm based in Coupeville.

Because the long and tiring journey across the holy land can be tiring, Orlando’s Bar + Southern BBQ also offered to bring its food truck to serve food and refreshments to the brave travelers.

Pastor Dean is very grateful to all who have helped make this possible — Bell’s Farm, Orlando’s, but also the First Reformed Church, the Church on the Rock, Living Faith Christian Center, House of Prayer and Oak Harbor Christian School, which held the first nativity scene in 2020 but could no longer lead the effort in 2022 as the people involved had all retired.

Many asked Pastor Dean what had happened to the school’s nativity scene, which at the time her church supported. Seeing how much people had appreciated the event, Pastor Dean prayed to God for help, finally deciding to put her craftiness to the test.

“I was not gonna let that stop me,” she said confidently. “I have so much to thank God for that we are in a place where we can come together in the community to make things still happen.”

With this event, Pastor Dean hopes to remind people of the meaning of Christmas in an engaging way.

In 33 years of service, she noticed many tend to feel particularly sad during the holidays, or even depressed, so she wants to bring some jolly feelings with the city she grew to love.

“People ask ‘What do you love about Oak Harbor?’” she said. “I love it because it’s Oak Harbor!”

Pastor Dean and Nicole Rice, a ministry at the church, pose with two characters from the display. (Photo by Luisa Loi)

Pastor Dean and Nicole Rice, a ministry at the church, pose with two characters from the display. (Photo by Luisa Loi)