Since 2002, Morton resident Cindy Powell said she has invited people from the Peoria area to view hundreds of nativity scenes at her church.

“The parking lot gets filled with cars,” she said.

Approximately 500 people attend the Nativity Walk at Bethel Lutheran Church each year. Some of these include the Rev. Jeff Anderson and Rev. Mark Anderson, both of Bethel Lutheran Church.

“They are two different Andersons,” Powell said. “They’re not related.”

The event will take place at Bethel Lutheran Church, located at 425 N. Missouri Ave., Morton. The event will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the church.

Catering to the handicapped as well, Powell said an early nativity walk will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 7. She said those in wheelchairs struggle to enjoy the scenery as much during the normal hours.

“When it’s crowded, they can’t get up close enough to see,” Powell said.

She said one of the reasons for getting people to come to the nativity walk is to show what Christianity is about.

“It’s a very non-threatening way of sharing your faith,” Powell said.

While Powell doesn’t know whether the event caused any conversions, she said many people show up purely out of curiosity.

“I’ve had people who come and would say, ‘We came because we were curious,’” Powell said.

Besides sharing her faith, Powell said she enjoys the variety of nativity scenes that people bring to share with the community.

For example, part of Powell’s collection of nativity scenes includes a wood carving of the birth setting. The carving consists of several animals and approximately seven people visiting baby Jesus. Another display of Powell’s shows only Mary, Joseph and an angel each clothed in all white.

“It’s amazing how many different ways the birth of Jesus is depicted,” she said.

The nativity walk flyer states that the church’s hand bell choir will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary. Refreshments will also be included. Some of the nativity scenes will be indoors.

Children ages three to seven can keep entertained with a special ‘make and take’ activity during the nativity walk.

Powell said every family will go home with a Christmas keepsake, which will remain a surprise until the event.

According to Powell, her fascination with nativity scenes began when she was a child.

“The first gift I remember buying my mother was a plastic nativity scene,” she said.

She said her inspiration to throw the event together came from attending a nativity walk in Bloomington.

“I had a friend who invited me to a nativity walk in Bloomington, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is  beautiful,’” Powell said. “So, I talked to a couple of friends in the hand bell choir, and they said, ‘Oh, you got to do this.’”

At one time, Powell said she decided to step down as the coordinator and let someone else try. But the pressure that put on the others caused her to take back the responsibility.

“It took three ladies to do what I did,” she said.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call publicity chairman Rosalie Westerfield at 263-7649.

“We welcome anyone from the area who would like to come,” Powell said.