The Powell Butte Christian Church is hosting a living nativity scene this weekend

by: KEVIN SPERL - Powell Butte Christian Church Pastor Trey Hinkle checks on the progress of the set, being put together in Linda Swindle's studio, for this weekend's Living Nativity.

The Biblical Christmas story comes alive, literally, this weekend, in the parking lot of the Powell Butte Christian Church.

The brainchild of Pastor Trey Hinkle, the drive-through experience presents six live-actor scenes depicting the birth of the Messiah.

To make it happen, all Hinkle needed was a good-sized parking lot.

“This is my fourth church,” explained Hinkle, having come to Powell Butte from southern California, “and the first with a parking lot big enough. I immediately knew that I could think about a living nativity here.”

On Saturday and Sunday evening the community is invited to drive through the parking lot, guided by over 500 luminaries constructed by the church youth group.

“This presentation allows families to witness the story while staying in the warmth of their vehicle,” explained Hinkle, adding that it’s a good thing since “nighttime here is a lot different than in California.”

Visitors will experience live actors and animals recreating scenes from the story, including the Magi as they follow the stars to Bethlehem to present gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; the angels visiting the Virgin Mary to convey the message that she was to bear the Messiah; Mary and Joseph on the road to Bethlehem; a visit to The Inn of Bethlehem, the site of the stable where they spent the night; the Shepherds proclamation of the birth of Jesus; and, finally, the manger.

Hinkle has been involved with nativity scenes since the age of three, helping his father, who was also a minister.

“When I was in high school, we had such a great nativity scene that it caused an accident out on the street,” laughed Hinkle. “Someone stopped to check it out and another car ran into them. It was kind of a compliment in a sad sort of way.”

Artists Linda Swindle and woodworker Mike Wachal collaborated to make the set.

“The community has really come together and offered their time and talent,” said Hinkle. “I even have a group of high school students that will maintain a bonfire for us.”

Neighboring churches are pitching in as well. The costumes worn by the “actors” in the scenes come courtesy of Bend’s Adventist Church, and members of the Prineville Ascent church are pitching in as volunteers.

Upon arrival, visitors will be asked to dim their lights and follow the path lined by the luminaries. Greeters will meet and direct traffic and ask that everyone remain in their vehicle so as not to spook the live goats and donkeys.

Also, be sure to roll down your windows, as Christmas music will be playing, adding to the holiday ambience. When you exit, be sure to get your candy cane.

Trey is grateful to the community for their cooperation and for the anticipated good weather.

“I am excited to offer this free experience as a gift to the community,” he said. “We look forward to a great time, but I just hope it doesn’t cause another accident out on the street,” he added with a smile.

The Living Nativity is open on Saturday and Sunday, December 21 and 22, from 7 to 8:30 pm. The Church is located on Highway 126 in Powell Butte.

For more information, call the church at 541-548-3066 or visit their web site at

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