Reverend Bill Sterritt of the Amicable Congregational Church in Tiverton created one of the best Rhode Island holiday traditions.
He recast the story of the first Christmas in modern times. Baby Jesus is a girl named Hope, Mary is a teenage runaway from Connecticut and Joseph is an undocumented worker named Jose.
There are life-sized statues of Sterritt’s modern-day nativity characters in front of the church on Main Road in Tiverton – about halfway between Fall River and Little Compton along one of the prettier country roads in Rhode Island.
RI Future first reported this story in 2012 and it made some people really angry. Sterritt wrote a short story to accompany Michael Higgins’ chainsaw sculptures and RI Future serialized it, posting one installment a day in December, 2012.
Here it is again – this year in its entirety – if you’d like to spend some time over the holidays reading a Rhode Islander’s take on if the first Christmas happened in today’s world.
- Chapter 1 – Jose Crosses the Border
- Chapter 2 – Jose’s Union Sympathies
- Chapter 3 – A Child Bearing a Child
- Chapter 4 – A Miraculous Pregnancy
- Chapter 5 – A Hospital Turns Them Away
- Chapter 6 – Jose and Maura, Out In the Cold
- Chapter 7 – A Baby Is Born
- Chapter 8 – A Man Named Gabe
- Chapter 9 – A Baby Named Hope
- Chapter 10 – David Eagle Wing
- Chapter 11 – A Child To Die For
- Chapter 12 – Anna on the Nightshift
- Chapter 13 – The Long Journey West
- Chapter 14 – ‘We Are Joined for a Purpose’
- Chapter 15 – We Are Close
- Chapter 16 – The Arrival
And some pictures I took in 2012 of Michael Higgins’ chainsaw sculptures: