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Nativities Tell Christmas Stories


Christmas Nativity scenes are on display at homes and churches across the world this time of year. First United Methodist Church in Tullahoma, Tennessee maintains a Nativity Museum. While these pieces of art tell the story of the birth of Jesus, this encore UMTV story tells us how they also come with the life stories of the people who own them.   

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(Locator: Tullahoma, Tn.) 

Jack and Christie Culpepper couldn't afford a Nativity scene in 1949.

“We had baloney sandwiches for our Christmas dinner. That's all we had.”

But that didn't stop him. His prized possession today is that old lettuce crate that he turned into this. 58 years old, and it's his Christmas centerpiece.

Jack and Christie Culpepper: “Once in awhile, one of the kids will kick one of the rails loose and we have to glue it back. Brings back memories of the pleasant times we've had at Christmas.”

Manger memories fill the First United Methodist Church in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Members donate Nativity scenes from around the corner and around the world. This is Christmas morning thru the eyes of the Sunday school class. 

Emily Thomas, First United Methodist Church of Tullahoma: “And that's the beauty of this display, people sharing their priceless objects. And to someone, that paper object is as priceless as that porcelain.”

Army Capt. Robbie Sipes made sure his went with him to Iraq.

Army Capt. Robbie Sipes: “I just had a foot locker at the foot of my bunk, so I just sat that on the foot locker.”

It got him thru December in the desert.

Army Capt. Robbie Sipes: “Having something to remind you that it is in fact Christmas, there is something more to think of than just doing your job. It was very helpful in lifting your spirits.”

The Nativity scenes are here every year – a tradition since 2003 – revealing Christmas stories sparked by The Christmas Story.


Displaying Nativity scenes is a Christian tradition that can be traced back to the early 12th Century.

For more infomation on the Nativity Museum, contact First United Methodist Church in Tullahoma, call 931-455-5434.

For more videos like this, visit our Advent and Christmas page.

This UMTV story was first posted in 2007.