Volunteers tell Christmas story
Scandinavia church helps keep Waupaca tradition going
By Greg Seubert
Two area churches teamed up to keep a longtime Waupaca Christmas tradition alive and well.
Waupaca Christian Church has turned its driveway off of King Road into a live-action event to tell the Christmas story.
A shortage of volunteers had put this year’s program in jeopardy, but a connection to Scandinavia Lutheran Church helped bring new life to the event, held Dec. 11-12.
Volunteers from both churches greeted more than 100 vehicles that drove by each station.
Rev. Carl Ferguson of Waupaca Christian Church greeted the 100 vehicles as they entered the driveway.
“We have 10 different scenes to describe the Christmas story,” he said. “The Christmas story is way more than just the Nativity scene. There are a lot of events and interesting things that happened to bring it all about. That’s why we want to do it: to try and give a deeper meaning to what Christmas is all about.”
Rev. David Eisele, pastor at Scandinavia Lutheran Church, played one of the three wise men.
“This is a very good way for us to evangelize and show people what the birth of Christ is all about,” he said. “By having people and animals involved, it brings it alive. We can visualize from words that we read in a book, but when we see it live, it has a lot more meaning. If you can see the animals and hear them and see the people moving around, it’s like reliving that day 2,000 years ago.”
Eisele and his wife, Joyce, first drove through the display several years ago.
“We wanted to show our children at that time a live Nativity,” he said.
Scandinavia Lutheran member Jeff Hoks approached Eisele with the idea of getting involved in this year’s program after learning it might not be held.
Hoks is involved with Ruby’s Pantry, which uses Waupaca Christian Church as a distribution location.
“It was Jeff who said, ‘Hey, we have an opportunity to help evangelize and keep a program going that’s been so good for so many years,’” Eisele said.
“It has become a tradition for our church,” Ferguson said. “Our congregation is getting small and we couldn’t have done it this year at all.”
The church has been holding the drive-through event for more than 20 years, according to Ferguson.
“We added scenes as we had opportunity,” he said. “We started with quite a bit fewer at the beginning. When we had enough actors, we kept adding and enhancing the experience.”
He recalled visiting a similar display at a bible college in Rochester, Minnesota.
“We had gone there, looked at the different things they did and got ideas from that,” he said. “It got our creative juices going. It took us two years of working on props before we were able to pull it off because of the amount of scenes and costumes that had to be created. These are all hand-made by members of the congregation.”
Visitors didn’t have to get out of their vehicles, which made the event possible during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everything that we’re doing met covid standards 20 years ago,” Ferguson said. “We’ve never let people get out of their cars. The scenes are far apart, so we don’t have large groups of people.”
Eisele expects Scandinavia Lutheran to participate again next year.
“It’s churches working together,” Ferguson said. “Yes, we each have our own doctrines, but God is bigger than all of our organizations.”