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Our History

The founding of Friends of the Creche happened at a series of two meetings: one held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and the other in Dayton, Ohio.

In December 1999, Rita Bocher gathered fourteen interested people together at the Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (where else?), to explore the possibility of a crèche organization in the United States. Present at the exploratory meeting were: Rita and Bud Bocher (Wynnewood PA); Jay Bullock (Columbia MD); Julie and Dave Colflesh (Folsom PA); Karl Fluck (Bethlehem PA); Mary and Frank Herzel (Harrisburg PA); Roy Ledbetter (St. Louis MO); Rev. Carol Reifinger (Bethlehem PA); Brother Bob Reinke (Hoboken NJ); Rev. Johann Roten (Dayton OH); Mike Whalen (Clinton Township MI); and the late Marjorie Yefchak (Dayton OH).

At this initial meeting it was decided that a national creche society would indeed be a viable concept. The group accepted the written organizational goals suggested by Jim Govan, who was unable to attend the meeting. A Steering Committee, headed by Jim Govan, was appointed to work out the details of founding Friends of the Crèche.

In August of the year 2000, sixteen FOTC charter members gathered for the follow-up organizational meeting at the University of Dayton, Ohio, site of one of the largest Christmas manger collections in the United States. Present at the Dayton meeting were Rita and Bud Bocher, Jay Bullock, Julie and David Colflesh, Judy and Bob Davis, Jim Govan, Mary and Frank Herzel, Brother Bob Reinke, Mary Jo Riegel, Rev. Johann Roten, Michael Whalen,  Marjorie Yefchak, and Holly Zenger. A By-Laws Committee was set up, a Board of Directors was established, and the election of officers was held. Length of terms on the first Board of Directors was established by lot.

In October of the year 2000, a delegation from FOTC attended the International Congress in Pamplona, Spain. Judy Davis, FOTC Vice President, officially represented our organization at various convention ceremonies and events.

In January 2001 the organization was incorporated as a religious/educational organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our first national convention, entitled “2001 - a Crèche Odyssey”, was held in November 2001 in Lancaster PA, and chaired by Rita Bocher. Meeting during the convention the Board of Directors approved the FOTC by-laws drafted by the By-Laws Committee.

In 2002 Friends of the Creche was accepted as a member of the Universalis Foederatio Praesepistica, the international association of crèche societies headquartered in Rome Also in 2002, the FOTC Annual Meeting was held in Frankenmuth, MI, and chaired by Mike Whalen.

In 2003 and the Internal Revenue Service approved FOTC as a federally tax-exempt 501(c) 3 organization retroactive to the date of incorporation. In November, 2003, our second biennial convention was held in Hyannis on Cape Cod, “Crèches by the Sea”, co-hosted by Diane Costa and Tim Goldrick.

We know of two national predecessors of our organization - The American Nativity Society and The American Christmas Crib Society. The American Nativity Society was founded in Spokane, Washington, just after World War I by a Jesuit priest named Paul Sauer. Unfortunately, the effort was short-lived. The American Christmas Crib Society, based in Fremont, Ohio, was more successful. By 1953 the Crib Society claimed 125 members. But in 1971 with the death of its founder, the Reverend Aloysius Horn, the group apparently disbanded.

With two strikes out on the national scene, we stepped up to the plate. Now, the bases are loaded and it looks like we’ve got ourselves a grand-slam home run! There are more than 400 members in the United States and Canada. We call ourselves Friends of the Creche!

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