THOUSAND OAKS : Display of 200 Nativity Scenes Open to Public

More than 200 nativity scenes--shaped from everything from driftwood to crystal--are on display at the Thousand Oaks Stake Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this weekend.

"It is our gift to the community," said stake public affairs Director Roy Thorsen, who donated his own replica of the birth of Christ, an antique made of wood and silver from 18th-century Russia.

"In Southern California, where we don't have the traditional Christmas winter land atmosphere, this is a reminder of what we are celebrating at Christmas."

Creches on exhibit include a hand-carved ivory wood display from Jerusalem, a colorful celebration piece made by Peruvian children, and dozens of figurines made by members of the local stake.

"We're really thrilled that people would share their treasures with us," said organizer Louis Niven, whose husband constructed the manger that houses her set. "And they are treasures."

Most of the creches have been donated for display by local stake members. There will be live religious music during viewing hours. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. today and from 4 to 7 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

The church is holding a Christmas concert from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the stake, 1600 Erbes Road, in Thousand Oaks. For more information call 653-0208 or 495-8211.

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