And unto the Cowichan Valley a pageant is given

Spencer Schmidt, Robert Chicoine, and Craig Ruttan portray the Three Wisemen and Ethan Ruttan plays the llama handler during Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints nativity.  - Andrew Leong/file
Spencer Schmidt, Robert Chicoine, and Craig Ruttan portray the Three Wisemen and Ethan Ruttan plays the llama handler during Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints nativity.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Follow the star to find the baby Jesus resting in a manger.

Or else, follow the Island Highway to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or The Shawinigan Lake Alliance Church in Shawinigan Lake.

Both congregations are holding their annual live Nativity pageants for the Cowichan Valley. The traditional Christmas story has become a big hit with the community.

“Many people have grown up with this experience and it’s just becoming part of our Christmas. I can’t imagine not doing this. There’s a feeling of unity and fellowship,” said Shelli McCollough, the Church of Latter-Day Saints pageant director. “They come year after year and make it a significant part of their Christmas experience.”

The Church of Latter-Day Saints has kept to the script, or rather, the scripture.

“The telling of Christmas is simple and we want to remain true to the story. We don’t interfere with the story but we do try to improve our performance.” McCollough said.

For both churches these pageants are meant as a gift to the Cowichan Valley. It is also a way to reach out and serve the community.

“I think it’s a great way to feel like we are getting outside of our walls. We’ve got people in our church who want to help and serve and we invite the community to see what we are about,” explained Deborah Gammer, director of the Shawinigan Lake Alliance Church pageant. “It’s a different way of doing church.”

The Alliance Church rotates between three scripts each year and this time the pageant’s focus is on the three wise men.

“It’s great in the way everyone can identify with the wise men. They are very pivotal. I think this really brings a message home to all of us that it’s a gift. It’s not about being smarter or knowing great things but understanding that there was a gift given to us 2,000 years ago.” Gammer said.

The pageants run smoother than one might think — especially with live animals involved.

Gammer and McCollough say they have a never-ending supply of willing volunteers, which helps keep everything organized.

“We have about 100 volunteers. We’ve got people who bake cookies, organize the sanctuary, direct choirs, and have crafts for kids, animal handlers who pick up the donkeys. It’s a wonderful thing that everyone enjoys.” Gammer said.

Gammer and McCollough pray for good weather because a cold rainy night might be a little too realistic for some people.

The Shawinigan Lake Alliance Church hosts its pageant Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. and another at 7:30 p.m.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will have its pageant Dec. 21, 22, and 23 with two shows each night at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

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