On Tuesday, November 29th, the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee (SNSC) will hold its fourth annual “opening day” ceremony from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Illinois State Capitol Rotunda, 301 S. 2nd St., Springfield, IL (corner of 2nd St. and Capitol Ave.), where their privately sponsored and funded Nativity Scene will be put on display for the 4th straight year, right next to the Governor’s “holiday tree.” Musicians and singers from iWorship Center in Springfield will be featured. The event is open to the public.
Most Rev. Thomas Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield’s Roman Catholic Diocese, will address those gathered in the Rotunda to celebrate and bear renewed witness to the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Tom Brejcha, Esq., president and chief counsel of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a member of the SNSC and its legal counsel, will briefly explain the constitutional rights of private citizens to erect Nativity Scenes as a form of free speech and free exercise of religion in America’s “public square”. Other SNSC members scheduled to speak include Beth Rogers of Springfield, pro-family activist; Dave Smith, Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute; and Arlene Sawicki, a pro-family activist from South Barrington.
The SNSC is encouraging those who would like to sing Christmas carols in the Illinois State Capitol Rotunda at the site of the Nativity Scene to contact Salli Chernis at the Secretary of State’s office, Dept. of Special Events, at (217) 782-8996 for permission to do so. Choirs and/or groups may perform on weekdays from 12 noon until 1 p.m. The Thomas More Society will provide free legal help, if any is needed, at (312) 782-1680, to any individual or group of private citizens interested in putting up a similar Nativity Scene — privately sponsored and funded — in any “traditional public forum” in their own town, village or hamlet in Illinois or elsewhere, whether it’s for this year (if time permits) or for next year.
“To our knowledge, Illinois is the only state in the country to celebrate the birth of Jesus with a Nativity Scene in a State Capitol Building,” said Julie Zanoza, the new chair of the SNSC who took over the role this year after her husband, Daniel T. Zanoza, founder and first chairman of the Springfield (IL) Nativity Scene Committee, was born into Eternity on January 6th, 2011. “Dan always said ‘this Nativity Scene will stand in the Illinois State Capitol Rotunda long after we (SNSC) are gone to our Heavenly reward’.” The crèche display, consisting of marble-like figures of the Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, will be on view in the Rotunda throughout the Christmas Season.
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