International Day of Peace in Stockton September 25, 2023 from 6 PM to 7 PM.

     We invite you to join us for peace with a  2023 celebration of International Day of Peace in Stockton. We will be outside around the labyrinth pictured to the right with live music from local musicians, walk the labyrinth, enjoy the music, contemplate, meditate, pray for peace.

     Folding chairs will be supplied. You are also welcome to bring a chair of your choice or a mat for the ground!

Holy Cross United Methodist Church

1200 West Hammer Ln., Stockton, CA

Pull in the driveway off Hammer Lane and drive behind the building.



SEPTEMBER 24, 2023





If you would like to participate in a Christmas Eve program please contact the church office or Wayne Mock / (209-969-9727). We need voices, and talent in other areas as well.

Church Yard Sale is planned for September 29, 30, and October 1st. We are still collecting items. Please contact Temple Gallagher at 209-986-8367 for info.

Please send your prayer requests or answers to prayer at any time during the week, to Sham Lee Sealey: She will send them to our email prayer partners and also collect them for next Sunday’s worship. You can also submit prayer requests to our website: go to the “Connect” tab at

Every Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. – Noon, you can bring to the church office your donations of non-perishable food for the Emergency Food Bank; water, and snacks for Mercy Pedalers; clothing for St. Mary’s.

Family Promise of San Joaquin is hosting a Family Fun Festival & Night without a Bed! October 21st from 4-7 pm!

COMMUNION OFFERING - SEPTEMBER --We will collect this important offering throughout the month of September. Hundreds of families and individuals receive emergency food assistance at the Emergency Food Bank Main Pantry, and our partner pantries throughout San Joaquin County. Without donations of food and/or funds, the Emergency Food Bank would not be able to provide assistance to those in need. Feel free to donate any of the items on the list. Food Drives for the rest of 2023: ▪ September – Boxed Stuffing ▪ October – Turkey ▪ November – Ham ▪ December – Soup

BOWLING---I am looking to get together a bowling team for a league on Monday evenings at Pacific Avenue Bowl. If you are interested in participating, please call or text me (Leslie Potter) at 209-471-6919, and let's "strike" up a conversation!

North Stockton Mercy Pedalers go out from Holy Cross UMC every Wednesday and Friday at 8am to serve homeless men and women in our community. Our dedicated group of Mercy Pedalers is busy as ever. We plan to serve 35 and make sure we have extra in case it’s needed. Twice last month we served 40+ people. In addition to coffee and coco, we give cookies and sandwiches. We try to take a fruit each time, usually bananas. A friend of mine donated a case of fruit salad which was a nice change. We took watermelon in cups twice. Now that it is so hot, we take partially frozen water in a cooler. Sham and Joe took frozen fruit pops last Friday. The homeless men and women we meet are always polite and appreciative.

Thank you for all the donations of peanut butter and jelly last month. We are going to need those on an ongoing basis as we use 4 loaves of bread every week for our sandwiches. Please consider helping with a monthly donation of peanut butter and/or jelly. Cash donations to Mercy Pedalers can be made on our church website or you can use a church envelope and designate FOR MERCY PEDALERS.

Thank you to our bakers: Diane Morgali, Judy Masterson and Mike Wirth. Scott Benesh donated 4th of July cupcakes. Temple was cooking one Friday for the Lodi Moose Lodge and was able to donate leftover grilled chicken. Thanks to all!

Needs: peanut butter and jelly/water/fruit/men’s socks



April 13, 2023 | by JB Brayfindley

     Camping in tents on the church lawn is not typical at Holy Cross UMC in Stockton but it was expected of Tongan families over the Easter weekend as part of observing Holy Week. Nearly 200 campers including children, teens, parents, and grandparents flocked to the church building bringing camping equipment in tow to spend time on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday teaching and learning about the meaning of Easter. It’s called “Easter Camp.”

     Eighteen tents were spread out around the church campus alongside various buildings on grassy patches and cement. Those not staying in tents outside, slept inside. During the long weekend, children could be seen playing games in the parking lot, along with a dog lying in the sun next to families sharing food and conversation inside the fenced, covered patio.

     “Camp is a particular time that we are teaching the children to learn what is important,” states Rev. Dr. Tevita Vaikona, associate pastor leading the Tongan Language ministry at Holy Cross. “Easter camp is like a school where the heart of the camp is the meaning of Easter.”

     “The original idea is to teach the meaning of Easter by telling the historical event, the story, and also the meaning, the application…” states Vaikona. During the weekend, there are bible study and discussion groups culminating in a presentation of skits revolving around the Easter theme. The use of words as well as imagery through dramatic arts are important aspects of teaching to Vaikona. “We teach from different perspectives—through the ministry of word and the ministry of image. Image, where the young people act, like, put on skits; and in the ministry of word, so we can explain it to them.”

     “The kids couldn’t wait to come,” states Vaikona noting that the event was highly anticipated by both youth and adults. “The pandemic is really helping us get out and meet with people, it’s been really long—two years… and the kids want to get out of the house and also the parents, too!”

     The event is also an opportunity to embody what it means to be community. “This is community, ‘what belongs to you belongs to me and what belongs to me belongs to you,’” explains Vaikona. “Sometimes we want to be in community but don’t understand it--we say, ‘what is mine is mine and what’s yours’ is yours’… but here, we make sure everybody has food, everybody is safe, everybody is involved.”

     “I love the fact that many of our Tongan families will quite literally spend the weekend at Holy Cross, camping out on the lawn from Thursday through Sunday,” states Holy Cross UMC senior pastor Rev. Gary Pope-Sears. “Such devotion exceeds even the original disciples who ran and hid from Friday afternoon until Sunday. Come for the Passion, stay for the Resurrection: that has been the mark of faithful followers of Jesus since the first Easter.”

     Thursday begins with setting up camp, attending church Maundy Thursday worship and gathering around a campfire before bedtime.

    On Friday, students are excused to go to school as adults continue preparing for upcoming activities with more people arriving and setting up more tents. After attending the church Good Friday Service, camp leaders are chosen and assigned roles. The night concludes with an informal greeting and play time.   

     Easter Camp activities begin in earnest on Saturday with a special morning devotional. Next, everyone chooses a Bible verse to memorize. After breakfast, the camp breaks up into small groups by age and are given different questions to discuss. Then, there is a Bible study. Everyone comes together to share the answers to the questions from their small groups. After lunch is free time. Small groups reconvene to create a skit to express their Easter idea. After dinner, each group performs their skit. Music rehearsal time is held to practice for Sunday. Then a devotional and early bedtime.

     Sunday begins with a sunrise service. With more people arriving and after more preparation and lunch, the 2:00 p.m. Tongan Language worship begins with music and dance featuring a youth confirmation service. “After a winter of study and preparation, a number of our youth, eight Tongan and one Pelangi, professed their faith and took their place among us as members of the congregation,” adds Pope-Sears.

     “More than anything, I think the most enjoyable part of Easter camp is just the togetherness,” states Kristine Tutana Latuhoi, one of the youth leaders at the event. “Our congregation members have strong bonds beyond the border of the church building and service schedules. We are all aunties and uncles, and we all share responsibility and love for each other’s children. Just to have some time to spend together outside of a structured service/church setting is so meaningful.”

     “And, from a mother’s point of view, it touches my heart to see my little family as a whole be so involved, happy and occupied in God’s setting instead of the regular temptations we face in our everyday life. Seeing my kids grow in God’s presence through biblical studies and Bible based activities, in a safe setting with other Christians brings me security and peace,” states Latuhoi adding that her third favorite part of the event was “food, food, food.”




A New Resource to Aid Your Spiritual Walk—Literally

     Holy Cross United Methodist Church consecrated its new labyrinth on Sunday, December 5, 2021.

     The project, which has been in the works for more than two years, is now open to all community members to experience.

     “I've walked these a number of times and you really can get outside of all your stress and strain," Gary Pope-Sears, pastor at Holy Cross United Methodist Church, said.

     Whether seen as something religious or not, labyrinths are well knows to relate to the exploration of meditation, and are often used for rituals or ceremonies, Pope-Sears refers to it as a “spiritual walk.”

     Once just an idea is now a reality come true for the community. The labyrinth is a place for creativity and new ideas to spring, he said.

     The space was blessed by Pope-Sears with anointing oil and with two prayers, one in English and one in Tongan.

     Even though the labyrinth holds similarities to a maze, it shouldn't be confused with one. The labyrinth is supposed to help individuals find peace or find answers for their unanswered questions.

     Click here to read the article in The Record: