“Room at the Inn”: Homeless shelter rescues Michigan Nativity scene

Baby Jesus in Menominee Michigan Nativity scene
(Photo: WBAY)

MENOMINEE, Mich. (WBAY) — Outrage turned into resolution in a matter of hours after the City of Menominee in Michigan removed a Nativity scene from a public park.

The scene was on displayed at the band shell at Menominee Marina Park, and had been for several years, but after complaints about the religious display being on public property, they took it down.

Wednesday Pastor David Pennell stepped in to give the crèche a new home.

“You know it’s kind of appropriate that the baby Jesus’s home is now at the homeless shelter seeing there was no room at the inn for him,” he said.

Pennell is senior pastor at Abundant Life Church & Mission in Menominee. He read about the scene’s removal from band shell Wednesday morning and within hours the display was at his shelter, though still needs to be put together.

The religious exhibit was removed from the public park only two days Tony Graff took over as Menominee City Manager.

“Normally your honeymoon period lasts more that two days,” Graff remarked.

He knew removing the display wouldn’t be an over popular move, but says legitimate arguments made by the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation led to the removal.

The group argued against the Nativity scene being displayed on public property, in fact they’ve been petitioning the city to stop the practice since 2007.

Graff says even though the city made the ultimate decision to remove the display, he’s glad his community was upset.

“I’m actually overjoyed that people care because it still shows that this community, along with out country still believes in the founding fathers and freedom of religion,” Graff said.

Pastor Pennell says the Nativity scene will be on display in front of the shelter which, much to his pleasure, will make it the first thing anyone sees as they cross the bridge from Marinette to Menominee.

“It’s almost kind of a divine intervention,” said Pastor Pennell. “Now many people will see it instead of just the ones that go downtown.”

Pastor Pennell says Habitat for Humanity will begin setting up the display outside the Abundant Life Church & Mission shelter Thursday.