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Sunday, December 24, 2006 by Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
(See Full Article here)
All Decked Out – Decorations Tell Nativity Story
Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette photos
The Rev. Fred Gilbert is pastor of The Independent Methodist Church of New Castle, which describes itself as the most decorated church in Lawrence County. The church is filled with lights, wreaths and several Nativity scenes.
Tucked into a commercial stretch of road outside New Castle, the Independent Methodist Church bills itself as the “most decorated church in Lawrence County.” But it could probably hold its own in a national competition.
Its nearly life-size outdoor creche only hints at what’s inside. Thousands of figurines, meticulously designed to feature a wide variety of ethnic traditions, are used to create 14 biblical scenes relating to the birth of Jesus
“I don’t look at this as just decoration. This is something devotional. This is a shrine,” said the Rev. Fred Gilbert, the pastor, who has been collecting Nativity figures since childhood. His undergraduate degree in art gives him an eye for the displays, the decorated trees and garlands of silk poinsettias entwined with greenery, ribbon and lights….
Like most of the small figurines inside, the outdoor Nativity was made by the Italian company Fontanini. It is identical to the Nativity scene in which Macaulay Culkin hid in the movie “Home Alone,” and it is nearly identical to one that Fontanini gave to the late Pope John Paul II for use in his private apartment…
Location: 1921 New Butler Road ¥ New Castle, Pennsylvania 16101
Mailing Address: P. 0. Box 7805 ¥ New Castle, Pennsylvania 16107
Phone: Church ( 724) 652-6567