by Felicisimo Cao | Camping and Retreat Ministries and Young People's Ministry
"We'll All Be Free," was the theme of the Christmas Institute 2019 held on December 26-30, 2019 at Old Oak Ranch Conference Center in Sonora, California. In attendance was 115 youth, young adults and adult volunteers. The theme was designed to help increase awareness among our young people the call to the ministry of social justice and lead them to live lives as young disciples of Jesus intentional in the advocacy of justice and peace and commit to solidarity with Jesus.
The curriculum was put together and written in part by Henry Pablo, III with the help as a resource from a "Youth Study" written by Jenny Youngman on a book titled, "Renegade Gospel: The Rebel Jesus," by Mike Slaughter. This curriculum was designed with 7 lessons and facilitated by trained staff leaders and studied by several small groups called Family Groups. The Leadership Team of Christmas Institute is called "The Collective" and comprised by Melissa Cancio Manuel who served as the main Camp Director, Henry Pablo, III served as Curriculum writer, Hannah Pablo was in-charge of the worship/games/group activities, JR Dizon was in-charge of music, Kayla Cape, was in-charge of communications and Victor Jake Manuel helped in the financial aspect. The Collective was guided and supported by the CI Dean, the Rev. Alex Cambe, resident pastor of Grace UMC-San Francisco and provided with assistance and supervision by the Office of Camping Ministries and Young People's Ministry through its Director, the Rev. Fel Cao.
Christmas Institute is a spiritual and discipleship formation ministry among our young people with camping as a powerful avenue in recruiting, identifying and developing new leaders from our young people. Christmas Institute embodies the richness of diversity which is one of the distinguished identities of the California-Nevada Annual Conference through the Conference Committee on Filipino American Ministry. It is very well supported by the Filipino American Ministry Caucus of our conference and attended by members and constituents of the Filipino American congregations and for the first time, a group of 7 young people from Merced UMC attended Christmas Institute that increased its inter-racial/ethnic representation with the support of the resident pastor, Rev. Ella Luna-Garza and District Superintendent, Rev. Debra Brady. Christmas Institute will continue in its commitment to support mission of the United Methodist Church in "Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."