The joy of the Nativity -- Part 5

[Click on photos below to enlarge.]

[December 01, 2012]     Send a link to a friend

In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler, the wife of a Mennonite Central Committee administrator, traveled to Puerto Rico. While there she was overwhelmed with the poverty she saw. She also saw people living there who had amazing artistic talent, but they were being taken advantage of by being forced to sell their works for next to nothing in order to simply survive.

Byler began a movement of foreign artists to develop a plan for a fair trade organization. The project became the Overseas Needlepoint and Crafts Project. This organization would open the door for poverty-stricken artists to sell their works at a fair market value, much higher than what they had been earning. In 1952 the movement offered its first sale of foreign-made products at the Mennonite World Conference in Basel, Switzerland. In 1961 the first festival sale in the United States took place at the Fairfield Mennonite Church in Fairfield, Pa.

Over the years the program has evolved into much more than Byler ever imagined it could be. One aspect of the organization is called Ten Thousand Villages. The works sold through this organization include everything from handcrafted jewelry to furniture, woodcrafts such as bowls and statuary, and Nativities.

The people at St. John United Church of Christ support the work of Ten Thousand Villages, and they buy the work of the artisans involved, including some very lovely Nativities.

Here are some of the Nativities on display last Sunday that were purchased from Ten Thousand Villages.

Pictures by Nila Smith




In addition to getting an opportunity to view all the Nativities, visitors had the chance to sit down with some sweets and visit with friends.


And when we say Nativities come in all shapes and sizes, we really mean it.  Some of them even come in 500 pieces!

Friends gather around the puzzle to chat and maybe work on the puzzle a little bit at a time.


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