Illinois 1 of 2 two states to display a Nativity Scene in State Capitol
Hundreds participate in Springfield Nativity Scene Committee’s 5th annual Opening Day Ceremony
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Springfield, IL – On Tuesday, November 27th, the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee (SNSC) held its fifth annual opening day celebration in the Illinois State Capitol Rotunda. In 2008, the SNSC made history when the first ever Nativity Scene was put on display in the Illinois Capitol next to the Governor’s “Holiday” tree. Mississippi also displays a Nativity Scene.
The foremost goal of the SNSC is to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. The SNSC’s second goal is to inform the public and media that such displays of religious faith in the public square are protected by the U.S. Constitution—as long as these displays are privately-funded, privately-sponsored and temporary in nature. Individuals and groups in many towns and cities across America are trying to remove all mention of God. Many retailers prohibit their employees from saying “Merry Christmas”. The Christmas tree is now commonly referred to as the “Holiday tree”.
The hour-long ceremony began with a Christmas carol led by Bill Lewis, worship leader at Jefferson Street Christian Church in Lincoln who was accompanied by Alice Morris, JJ Simpson and Judyta Sobczak. Jefferson Street Christian Church members played a number of traditional Christmas songs for those gathered.
The opening invocation was given by Rev. Bernie Lutchman, President of Business Men In Christ (Springfield) and an SNSC member.
Speakers included Rev. Peter C. Harman, Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield); Pastor Charlie Carver from South Tower Community Church of Dawson; Pastor Rick Giovannetti, Standing in the Word Ministries and an Illinois Family Institute Board Member; and Kevin Edward White, Esq., Board member of the Thomas More Society.
Due to the fall veto session, the Rotunda was filled with hundreds of people who took part in the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, by listening to the speakers and singing along with other participants. There were many folks who watched from the upper balconies in the Rotunda.
Tom Brejcha, Esq., President and Chief Counsel of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society (TMS) and legal counsel for the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee could not attend due to the many court cases TMS is working on. Mr. Brejcha made a brief appearance on the O’Reilly Factor on Tuesday evening and was on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir Show on Nov. 29th “to discuss the religious liberty battle against those who want to take ‘Christ’ out of Christmas.”
SNSC member Beth Rogers of Springfield addressed those attending the “unveiling” ceremony. She reminded everyone that Christmas is a federal holiday, and that Christ is the reason for the season. Mrs. Rogers also spoke about a local newspaper from Petersburg, which, in years past, had devoted their entire front page to Christmas.
Rick Rogers (Beth Rogers’ husband), presented flowers to Julie Zanoza, SNSC’s chair near the end of the event which was dedicated to Mrs. Zanoza’s husband, the late Daniel T. Zanoza, who was the founder and first chair of the SNSC. The Rogers also presented flowers to SNSC member Helen-Zanoza Stacey, (Julie Zanoza’s sister in law, and sister of Daniel Zanoza). The Nov. 27th celebration of the birth of the Christ Child in the Capitol Rotunda coincided with what would have been Daniel’s 59th birthday.
The crèche and manger will be on view until December 27th, during normal business hours. Groups and individuals who would like to sing near the Nativity Scene are encouraged to contact Salli Chernis of Sec. of State Jesse White’s office for permission at (217) 782-8996. Note: Music is only allowed during the noon hour.