Advertisement
Canada

Calgary nativity scene with new faces in manger meant to spark discussion

WATCH: A Calgary church has unveiled a new nativity scene in the hopes of sparking some discussion about diversity. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the updated manger is full of unusual depictions.

Red Deer Lake United Church has unveiled a new nativity scene that includes a unique variety of characters gathered in the manger.

The minister at the southwest Calgary church said it’s all about contemporizing some of the traditional imagery.

“I really wanted to come up with a nativity scene that could shock and provoke people into stopping and engaging and trying to figure out: what does Christmas really mean?” said Rev. Nick Coates.

Tweet This

The nativity scene has wise men depicted as folk musician and poet Michael Franti, Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar and First Nations leader Perry Bellegarde.

Red Deer Lake United Church unveiled a new nativity scene this week.
Red Deer Lake United Church unveiled a new nativity scene this week. Global News

Joseph is dressed as a modern carpenter. He and Mary represent today’s immigrants.

Story continues below advertisement

“Mary and Joseph were moving from Bethlehem to Nazareth but they became refugees shortly after that,” Coates said. “So it has a very relevant meaning for us as we talk about immigration and how we deal with people crossing our borders and separating parents from kids.

“This story should inform a lot about how we engage and hear that news and if we are Christians, how do we deal with that and what kind of policies should we be advocating for?”

Tweet This

READ MORE: ‘What Christmas is all about’: 416 nativity scenes on display in Lethbridge

The shepherds are disadvantaged teens who are meant to be anyone on the fringes of society.

“[They are] people that we don’t really see,” Coates said. “They’re just operating in the background and when they come into our lives, or we pass them on the street, we take a step back because we are a bit scared and wary of them and the story says these are people too.”
The nativity scene has wise men depicted as folk musician and poet Michael Franti, Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar and First Nations leader Perry Bellegarde.
The nativity scene has wise men depicted as folk musician and poet Michael Franti, Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar and First Nations leader Perry Bellegarde. Global News

The artist behind the images wanted to create something that would make people put more thought into Christmas and to help people see themselves in the Christmas story.

Story continues below advertisement
“I hope they take away a new envisioning,” Larry Stilwell said. “[I hope they] take away that they thought they knew it all, but maybe they didn’t.

“It’s about a God that talks about inclusivity, that talks about respecting and loving each other for who they are.”

Tweet This

The church’s minister is hoping this sparks conversation and he doesn’t mind if it ruffles any feathers.

“I think it’s OK to push buttons and ask the questions,” Coates said. “That’s what this church is all about.

“We are taking this tongue in cheek and recognizing that we are pushing some boundaries and poking some people, but it’s all done in the spirit of: what does Christmas mean?”

READ MORE: Controversial nativity scene shocks at St. Joseph’s Oratory

Red Deer Lake United Church is located at the southwest end of Calgary, west of Spruce Meadows.

Global News Redesign Global News Redesign
A fresh new look for Global News is here, tell us what you think
Take a Survey

Sponsored Stories