Downtown church displays historic creche

The life-size nativity scene that graced the Town Hall lawn each holiday season for about 50 years has been set up across the street at the Central Congregational Church. The church took ownership of the crèche in mid-2011 and has been working to restore the figures, which were crumbling from years of exposure outdoors. According to church member Carol Sherman, not all the figures have been repaired, but this year’s scene features Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, three shepherds, three wise men, and three sheep. “We still have some camels, a donkey in pieces, the angel, and a shepherd boy, which we hope to finish by next year,” Sherman said. The Italian-made scene was purchased by the Middleborough Gas & Electric Department in the 1950s for about $50,000, according to spokeswoman Sandra Richter. The scene hadn’t been displayed for about a decade, due to the figures’ deterioration and questions of church-and-state separation. Residents are welcoming its return to town center, Sherman said. “I had people who grew up in town say they didn’t feel it was Christmas without the crèche.”