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Away in a manger, Raleigh church holds Christmas service

Posted December 24, 2013

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— Hundreds of people gathered in a barn in northwest Raleigh Tuesday to celebrate the birth of Jesus much as it occurred more than 2,000 years ago.

All Saints United Methodist Church has been holding Christmas Eve services in a barn for several years to make the Bible story of Christmas come alive.

"Most of us have heard it told by various actors on television, but not many of us show up in a barn on Christmas Day," said Rev. Cameron Merrill, associate pastor of the church.

The event started small – Merrill said about 20 people sang "Silent Night" to a very confused donkey – but has grown every year. On Tuesday, three services were held at Page Farms, off Mount Herman Road, with crowds sitting on chairs amid the hay and cows.

"We hear the story told, and we think that the (manger) was nice and quiet. This reminds us that it really wasn't," Meriill said.

"The pastor is giving his sermon, and the cows are kind of talking at the same time," musician Scott Laird said with a laugh.

Not only is the service a bit noisy, it starts off fairly chilly. Merrill said, however, that the barn warms up pretty quickly with 800 people inside.

"It really, for me, gives me a good feel for really what the first Christmas was somewhat like," said Danny Page, of Page Farms.

"We've been doing this for four to five years, and every year it gets a little bit bigger and better," Laird said.

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