JOSEPH AND MARY AT CENTRO
PUTTING Christ back into Christmas was the aim of two Lakeside Christian Church members yesterday who dressed as Mary and Joseph and walked through Centro Tweed to make their point.
Church members Sable Samuel and Evan Marrinan, also the church youth leader, said they were disappointed the Nativity scene was not included in the decorations at the shopping centre and decided to have a peaceful protest.
"If you take Christ out of Christmas, you take the purpose out of it," Mr Marrinan said.
"So we thought we'd take the Nativity scene back to the centre and to shoppers and remind them of the true meaning of Christmas ... a time to remember and reflect on Jesus," he said.
"We're making a stand for our beliefs and to open people's eyes to what Christmas should be all about," Ms Samuel said.
"To encourage them to see past the commercial side - the Santas and the reindeer are all fun - but it is so important to remember this side also," she said.
The peaceful protesters were chaperoned through the centre by security, however they were not deterred.
"We had so many people come up to us and say 'good on you', even with security keeping such a close watch on us," Mr Marrinan said.
Centro Tweed managment recently defended their decision not to display their nativity scene due to the upgrading of decorations and the policy by Centro to stay neutral in terms of religious preferences.
Centro Properties Group national property manager Mark Wilson late yesterday supplied the Daily News with a statement in response to the disposal of the Nativity scene from Centro Tweed, saying the whole story had occurred as a result of a mis-interpretation of the facts.
Mr Wilson said their former Nativity scene was stored in a marketing storage area and during an annual review of all Christmas display items it was discovered that the Nativity scene was in a dilapidated condition, with a number of broken parts to the figurines.
He said the set was therefore placed outside the storage area during the clean-up with the view of being donated to a local Sunday school or charity. However, prior to this occurring members of the local community saw the Nativity scene and we assume they thought it was being discarded, wherein the Nativity scene had been donated to a local church.
Mr Wilson said he would like to assure the public that at no stage was it the centre's intention to offend any of their valued customers.
However, shoppers had been shocked to find the Nativity scene figurines in the rubbish bin behind the centre earlier this month.
The Nativity scene figurines were rescued by Father Doug Stevens at St Cuthbert's Anglican Church where they are now on display in the window of the parish hall.