Guests at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on Saturday marveled at international holiday scenes brought to Hinesville courtesy of the Episcopal Christian Women’s ministry. The church’s annual “nativities from around the world” event ran from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and featured a Christmas tree raffle.
The church’s social hall was arrayed with a variety of nativity scenes — ranging from ornate to simple and miniature to oversized — from various countries. Many of the ministry’s members have traveled extensively as military wives and they collected nativities from places they’ve lived in and visited, including Germany, Korea, Israel, Spain, Kenya, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Palestine and Alaska. One scene was purchased at a small shop on St. Simons Island, but the owner bought it in Bethlehem. Another scene that at first appeared to be just an egg opened to reveal a tiny, breathtakingly detailed manger setting.
While most of the nativity scenes were made in other countries, the largest component of the church’s display was crafted by the late Thomas Kinkade in America. This nativity scene belongs to ECW Ministry President Gaby Chaffee.
Two of the treasures from Naples, Italy, were made of lava from Mt. Vesuvius and from Mt. Etna. Other nativity scenes were made of glass and metal from Spain, terra cotta from Italy and olive wood from Palestine and Israel.
The showcase and raffle served as a fundraiser for St. Philip’s ECW, and a portion of the proceeds benefits the church’s outreach doll ministry. The ladies make homemade dolls that are delivered to hospitals, and whenever a child is admitted or brought in for care, a nurse gives the small patient one of the handcrafted toys.
Funds raised also aid St. Philip’s other charitable endeavors, such as sending children to the Honey Creek summer camp, assisting families in need at Thanksgiving (10 were helped this year) and supporting Operation Christmas Child Samaritan’s Purse charity.
According to Chaffee, the ministry isn’t large, but the members are active.
“Whenever something needs to be done, everyone pitches in to help. We are not big, but the people all come together — we work together,” she said.
Becky Sizemore won the Christmas tree raffle and took home a 6½-foot evergreen and other decorations, including lights, ornaments, stockings, baskets and bows.
St. Philip’s pastor, Father William “Buck” Lea, said the public is welcome at any of the church’s services.