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Hundreds of nativity sets on display at Lilburn chapel

Peyton Gregerson, left, performs as Mary, while Ammon Galvez performs on Saturday as Joseph during the “Celebration of the Nativity” at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Lilburn Chapel. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

Peyton Gregerson, left, performs as Mary, while Ammon Galvez performs on Saturday as Joseph during the “Celebration of the Nativity” at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Lilburn Chapel. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

LILBURN — The spirit of Christmas, featuring nearly 500 nativity scenes, live performers of Mary and Joseph, along with traditional Christmas music, was on full display at a Mormon church on Saturday night.

It was part of a three-day celebration at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Lilburn Chapel that included a Friday night performance by the Mount Zion Praise Ringers from Mount Zion Baptist Church in Snellville, a harpist and a violinist and pianist on Saturday.

Those were just some of the musical performers who performed every 30 minutes for three hours on Friday and Saturday nights.

Executive director Jim Brinkerhoff and his wife Nancy coordinated the event that brought nativity scenes from places around the world, including Nova Scotia and Mexico City. Most of the contributions come from LDS churchs as the Brinkerhoffs started preparations for the first-ever event in January. About 40 people helped Brinkerhoff put on the event.

“We have everything from puzzles to fish ponds,” Brinkerhoff said of the range of nativity scenes.

There was also a creative children’s room, a display of seasonal handmade quilts and a live outdoor nativity.

The Brinkerhoffs patterned the event after similar ones they visited last year in Gainesville and Roswell.

“The biggest thing is nowadays people don’t think that Mormons believe in Christ,” Brinkerhoff said. “We do, we have a sincere belief in Christ just like any other Christian. And (this is) kind of an introduction to the church.”

Ammon Galvez performed as Joseph for the outdoor nativity, and said the nativity scene is one of the more spiritual and personal things about the church.

“What we hope to convey is that people feel the spirit throughout this whole program,” Galvez said. “To feel closer to God and everyone’s love, especially during this time. Anyone can feel the spirit.”

Beth and Mark Kristjanson said they came to watch their grandson, Nathan, perform and enjoy the spirit of the season.

“We like people willing to share what they have,” Mark said. “The amount of work that goes into these quilts, the thought behind it, the creativity is amazing.”

The event continues today beginning at 3 p.m. with a performance by the 75-member Sugar Hill LDS Choir in the annex building next to the chapel. The chapel is at 1150 Cole Drive S.W. in Lilburn.