Big Time Nativity Celebration at Juniata County Church

At Bunkertown Church of the Brethren near McAlisterville, there’s a small room set aside for a big celebration.

The room houses a collection of more than 800 nativity sets, ornaments and art works depicting the birth of Jesus, owned and displayed by congregant  Rosalita Leonard.

“It is a holiday that I have always enjoyed for its message about the Christ child, ” said Leonard.

Her collection grows by about 50 sets or ornaments a year and she’s always looking.

“Seldom does a week goes by in the summer when I don’t find one or two, at least small nativities, being sold at garage sales.”

“I also make an effort each year to put all the new items on a separate table,” she added.

Leonard says she is getting a little fussier about what she collects as her collection grows bigger, but admits that it’s hard to say no.

“If it’s cheap, I’ll probably buy it anyway,” she added with a smile.

Her collection began simply enough with a gift from her father.

“In 1986 my dad got me an Avon set of just the Baby, Mary and Joseph and then  I just kind of went from there.”

Sections of the collection feature nativity depictions from other cultures and there is also a special table just for children.

The huge display requires five station wagon loads to transport the items, plus 20 hours to set them up and 15 more to take them down.

Looking across the crowded room, Leonard added: “The major reason I do this is because I have the collection and I like people to see it.”

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