December 13, 2013 - 9:52 AM
PENTICTON - It appears a deer found its way into the Church of the Nazarene and is lurking behind a nativity scene in front of the pews, but it's no wandering herbivore looking for warmth or an easy meal.
It's actually the stuffed head and neck of a white-tailed deer and it's part of a scene depicting man's search for spiritual illumination. It also represents the love of one Albertan town had for a former pastor.
The taxidermied parts are affixed to a piece of plywood cut and painted to appear as its body. The effect is startlingly realistic and the deer has managed to fool a few folks seeing it for the first time.
Associate pastor Jamie Weberg did a double-take when he first saw it standing between the pews and his two-year-old son can't keep his hands off it.
The animal now stands in front of a painted backdrop depicting a rising sun, shining its light through a stand of trees. The theme is humanity's search for illumination in a world sometimes filled with darkness, church member Chuck Neufeld said. He painted the backdrop and the deer's plywood body but it was senior pastor Neil Allenbrand who supplied the stuffed herbivore.
Twenty-five years ago Allenbrand was serving in the tiny community of Caroline, Alta., where he made a lot of friends through the church, through the Royal Canadian Legion hall, where he was the padre or through various community events, where he was the master-of-ceremonies. He was also an avid outdoorsman.
Neufeld said his commitment was returned when several people came to him offering animal parts.
"This deer head with the antler came from one person and the cape (the neck) came from another couple of guys, who were actually the town drunks," Neufeld explained.
"And even though these guys said they would never come to church, because if they ever walked in the walls would cave in, it represented Neil's ministry to the community. They were friends enough with him, they had something to share."
It seems the church tradition is to do something non-traditional for the Christmas back-drop in front of the pews. Neufeld said the white-tailed deer might make a comeback next year though as families have been asking to use it as a backdrop for Christmas photos.
To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065, send tweets to @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013