The Putz

The United Church of Christ came into being in 1957 with the union of two Protestant churches or "denominations." They were the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches.  The Evangelical and Reformed Church was an historically German denomination.

The tradition of decorative Christmas villages is rooted in the holiday traditions of the Moravian church, a Protestant denomination with early settlements in Salem, North Carolina and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In American Moravian homes, the construction of a nativity scene, or putz, at the base of a Christmas tree was a very common holiday activity. The term was derived from the German verb putzen, which means "to clean" or "to decorate." These nativity scenes soon became very elaborate, and often included sawdust or fine dirt spread to represent roads leading to the manger; stones and fresh moss to represent grottos or caves; and sticks and branches to represent miniature trees. These details were in addition to the carved wooden figures that represented the Holy Family, animals, shepherds, and other traditional nativity figures.

Rev Bev brought the tradition of building the putz with her when she became our pastor. She learned the history and construction methods at Bethesda United Church of Christ back in the 1990’s. Her teacher, the late, great scientist, Bob Knouss, grew up as a Moravian. Rev Bev has spent 20 years collecting driftwood, stumps, and corn crates, and moss from the following states: Wisconsin (Lake Michigan), Iowa (Mississippi River and Lake Red Rock), Kentucky (Ohio River), Pennsylvania (UCC Camp), and Maryland (Eastern Shore). She and three of her church members in Wisconsin hand painted each figurine. Each piece came from a local ceramics shop that donated their labor to pour and fire the pieces. Rev Bev and her friends spent months preparing the ceramics and two of the walking camels reflect the colors of the Green Bay Packers. There are a lot of snow covered memories embedded in the Putz you see today. Below you can see the magical transformation as boxes, drift wood and ceramics.

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We usually create the Putz on the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent, when we also decorate the church for Christmas.  
Please join with us in creating a Christmas experience for you and your family for the upcoming Christmas season.