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Nativity shack promotes mission

Anyone happening past St. Aidan's Anglican Church may have noticed the nativity scene on the front lawn looks a bit worse for wear. If you have noticed that the creche is constructed of scavenged materials, it's done its job.

“We were hoping it would draw some attention,” said the church's youth leader, Chris Schryer.

The nativity scene at St. Aidan’s is currently housed in a scrap material shack. As donations to the church youth group’s upcoming mission trip are raised, the shack will be upgraded; the idea mimics plans to upgrade housing for the poor in Nicaragua. PHOTO: Jon Muldoon

The nativity scene at St. Aidan’s is currently housed in a scrap material shack. As donations to the church youth group’s upcoming mission trip are raised, the shack will be upgraded; the idea mimics plans to upgrade housing for the poor in Nicaragua. PHOTO: Jon Muldoon

A group of nine youths and six adults is planning a mission trip for March break, where the group will be building houses for families in Managua, Nicaragua, partnering with a local organization there. The creche is built similar to many of the homes in the Barrio Grenada neighbourhood where the crew will be working. Schryer said the idea came up while brainstorming on ways to promote the trip, and raise funds.

“As an almost passing joke, I said, 'why don't we make it look like a slum?',” he said.

The advisory board at the church liked the idea, and now the creche features a ramshackle structure of junk wood, a tarp and an envelope of handouts explaining why the nativity scene looks the way it does, along with donation information. As donations increase, the shack will be improved, in the same way the group will be transforming shacks in Nicaragua.

One of the side benefits of the trip, said Schryer, is to help build connections between generations. With the adults and youths working and staying in close quarters, he's hoping the generation gap will be bridged somewhat.

He's also hoping seeing a bit of the world will be something of an eye-opener to some of the young Beach participants.

“Although the group is varied in a socio-economic sense, in a global sense these kids are very well off,” he said.

Through working with the local group in Nicaragua, Schryer is hoping the group will get a sense of what life can be like for people in other parts of the world, while at the same time learning to create personal connections with those people.

The St. Aidan's group is aiming to raise $44,000 in total, to cover the cost of materials and travel. So far they've raised over $9,000, said Schryer. They will be conducting a bottle drive in the new year, as well as organizing a concert at the church by Mike Janzen. To make a tax-deductible donation, stop by the church, or mail a cheque to St. Aidan's Anglican Church – Youth Ministry Trip, 70 Silver Birch Ave., Toronto, ON, M4E 3K9.

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