Below is a story published in a previous issue of Faith in Caring magazine about a couple at Concordia at Sumner who collect Nativity sets from around the world. To be added to the mailing list or e-mail distribution list, e-mail us here or call the Concordia Public Relations Department at 724.352.1571, ext. 8266. Enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment below!
Glenn and Mary Ellen Atwood, residents of Concordia at Sumner, are collectors.
Their largest and most unique collection: 121 Nativity sets from 15 countries a collection they share with other residents and visitors to the Manor House on the Copley campus. "We purchased a set for our first Christmas together 57 years ago, a simple ceramic holy family with a stable that currently sits on the small shelf outside our apartment," said Mary Ellen.
She tells the story of the celebrations of Christmases past. "When our (three) children were young, we always celebrated the birthday of Jesus, complete with cake, candles, ice cream and singing Happy Birthday. After all, to children, birthdays mean just that, a party, cake and singing," she said.
When the two of them began to travel internationally, the Nativity sets were something unique from each country and usually easy to get home. As they came out each Christmas, it was a fun way to remember their travels and a constant reminder to them of the true meaning of Christmas.
"Our first trip was to Hungary and Austria in 1987," remembers Mary Ellen. "Glenn participated in a faculty exchange program between The University of Akron (professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering) and Veszprem University in Hungary, which was under Communist rule.
Mexico, Chile, Austria, Hungary, Ecuador, Peru, Nepal, Argentina, Bangladesh, Philippines, Kenya, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, United States, and Republic of South Africa the pair has collected Nativities from each of these lands. There's even a miniature one inside a glass bottle measuring 3/4 inch diameter and 2 inches tall.
"We have more from Spanish-speaking countries than others," Glenn notes. And there's good reason for that. Thirty-seven years ago they housed an American Field Service exchange daughter from Santiago, Chile. "It was one of those magical matches and we have kept in touch all these years," Mary Ellen continues.
The couple, now married 57 years, goes to Chile every other February. They began to study Spanish after hosting the Chilean exchange student and particularly enjoy Spanish-speaking countries to continue working on the language.
In addition to the collection, they enjoy talking about 25 years of travel, having walked on all seven continents, hiked in the Swiss Alps, backpacked on the Southern Island of New Zealand, canoed in Boundary Waters and Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, taken cruises and traveled with small groups in many countries.
Glenn and Mary Ellen are active members of Cuyahoga Falls First United Methodist Church, having taught Sunday School, served as youth counselors and volunteering on various committees. They have three adult children, Ruth, John and Rob, as well as three grandchildren.
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