The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A different sort of Legoland

Congregation’s young people built it, and people came

A group of youth — mostly boys — in Jonestown, Pa., make the Christmas story come alive using what they know a lot about: Legos.

It started out nearly four years ago as an idea for a confirmation project for Eric Schulden, now 17.

“I was visiting Eric’s house and noticed he had a ton of Legos,” said Robert Myallis, pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. “He was in confirmation at the time and I said, ‘What if you could build a nativity?’ ”

Myallis had noticed big nativity scenes at churches in Germany and thought it would be “kind of fun for our church” to have a big nativity.

Schulden’s model of between 3 and 4 feet was just the start. He rounded up a few more “wise men” (Lego aficionados) who wanted to help, including Kenny Redinger, 16; Dylan Houser, 13; and Donny Redinger, 13. They set out planning something larger. 

In this the third year of group production, about 10 Zion young people (only one girl) built a nativity that’s 10 to 12 feet long and 5 to 6 feet deep — roughly 60 square feet. It features 1,000 pieces, 100 mini figures (angels, soldiers, Mary and Joseph, townsfolk) and more than 50 animals. There’s a city wall, homes and a place of worship.

It took more than 10 hours to build (as a group) and many hours of planning, researching, purchasing and arranging materials. Schulden did the hard work of lining everything up so group time was productive, said Myallis (rev.rob@comcast.net).

“None of this is a standard Lego kit,” Schulden explained, adding that some Legos had to be special ordered from Germany. “These are all designs we did. It’s hard sometimes because Lego doesn’t always have the things you need.” 

During Advent the scene changed each week. Like other great builders, the kids inserted secrets and inside jokes to make the story an adventure.

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