MANCHESTER — Members of the First Parish Church say they just wanted to bring the Christmas story to life this holiday season.
The plan was to have a live Nativity scene — complete with a manger and people playing the parts of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus — setup on the Town Common as part of the church’s Christmas Eve family service. This was the first time the church, which sits on the Town Common has proposed such a display and a real donkey was even secured to add to the scene.
But town officials have essentially told the church there’s no room at the inn — or, in this case, a place to have a religious display like a live nativity scene on town property.
Manchester selectmen have denied the request from the church, saying the proposal didn’t provide enough details and could potentially pose legal issues for the town.
Selectmen Chairman Susan Thorne, along with Selectmen Lee Spence, Bryan Gubbins and Mary Hardwick voted against the request at the board’s regular meeting last Monday, while Selectman Thomas Kehoe chose not to vote after the other four rejected the request. Kehoe did not give a reason for his abstention.
“There were some of us that thought it was inappropriate to allow a religious display on the Town Common,” Selectmen’s Chairman Sue Thorne said in an interview. “And there really wasn’t enough information to make a fair decision.”
One hour of religion was too much for Muffy and Chipper to see on their way home from The Club.
By the way, the BP of Manchester changed its name from Manchester to Manchester-by-the-Sea back in 1990. I refuse to call it by it’s official – and incredibly ostentatious – name.