Ristine, who joined the congregation in July, posted pictures of the nativity to her personal Facebook page and was stunned by the response — more than 15,000 shares and 4,000 comments in one day. Most have been supportive and have spawned an online discussion about inclusion, she said.

“Thank you for living the faith and reminding us of the true story — and message — of Christmas,” Shelby Edwards wrote on Ristine’s Facebook page, and a pastor from Australia wrote, “Well done, Claremont.”

But others were offended by the nontraditional scene. “I am appalled to say the least about your nativity scene in your church,” Edwin Musto, a Methodist, wrote on the church’s Facebook page. “It is despicable that you can bring politics into our church!”