Jon Austria/The Daily Timesat Navajo Ministries on Tuesday.processed by IntelliTune on 06122011   160115with script _New Nice Image-CTP
Jon Austria/The Daily Times at Navajo Ministries on Tuesday. processed by IntelliTune on 06122011 160115 with script _New Nice Image-CTP
FARMINGTON — Twenty-two years ago, Kevin Fowler played the baby Jesus in the annual live Nativity hosted by Navajo Ministries.

This year, Fowler's infant daughter, Aurora, will do the honor.

"We've got a second generation baby Jesus," said Jim Baker, president Navajo Ministries, a nonprofit Christian organization that cares for Navajo children and families. "That's never happened before."

Baker and his wife, Kay Baker, started the live Nativity in 1984. The annual event opens the west Farmington campus to spectators who want to view the Nativity scene, drive through a luminaria display and hear a

live choir.

"We wanted to do something that would be a big thank you' gift to the community," Jim Baker said. "We wanted it to be like a living Christmas card."

This year's live Nativity runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 23. The ministry is located at 2103 W. Main St., in Farmington.

An estimated 300 vehicles turn from U.S. 64 into the campus every year during the two-hour display.

The event is centered around the Nativity, which pulls young residents from the ministry for the roles of the holy family, angels, wise men and shepherds. The scene also includes live animals raised on the campus and an infant to portray Christ.

The Nativity is as traditionally Navajo as possible, Jim Baker said. The baby Jesus, for example, is wrapped in a cradle board.

Thirteen of the ministry's 17 residents are participating in this year's Nativity.


They dug through piles of material Tuesday during a costume fitting that has become almost as big of a tradition as the live Nativity itself.

"It's to have fun," said 10-year-old Chonita, who was selecting clothing for her character of a wise man. She, along with the other wise men, will wear white pants, velvet shirts and blankets.

"It's going to be awesome," Chonita said.

Navajo Ministries, which provides housing and education to children up to age 18, also incorporates Christian learning. The live Nativity is one of the ministry's most visible contributions to the community.

"Most children who are placed here are from Navajo families," Kay Baker said. "Our message to them is that Christ's gospel is for everyone. For some children, when they come here, they don't know what Christmas is. This is a way of living it out."

But two hours can be a long time for any child to pose, no matter how spiritual the setting.

"We've been known to have some flying snowballs between the shepherds and the wise men," Kay Baker said. "For the young ones, it's a fun time. For the older ones, it can be more of a

spiritual thing."