juLY 14, 2024


The weather is changing quickly to Summer and warmer days.  Please remember to stay hydrated.  Stay safe friends!


All live-streamed services can be found at our website:, or on Facebook at: Holy Cross United Methodist Church.


Our Communion offering for JULY will go to Mercy Pedalers and the great work they are doing in the community!


CALLING ALL GRADUATES! Do you have a graduate from kindergarten, 6th grade, 8th grade, high school, or college? Let the office know at or leave a message at 209-472-2177. We would like to recognize these students in July. CONGRATULATIONS!

DIRDAK SCHOLARSHIP Scholarships for two High School Graduates! Holy Cross UMC gives two $500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors for college or vocational school expenses. These scholarships are for students who attend Holy Cross. You must meet all the requirements to be eligible for the scholarship. Call the church office to receive an application at 209-472- 2177, Temple at 209-986-8367, or email at Deadline to apply is July 31, 2024 and MUST be turned into the office by 11:59 pm.

North Stockton Mercy Pedalers--We continue to go out on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to serve the unsheltered community. We need men’s clothing, small packets of wipes, and hot chocolate. Do you like to bake? We always need weekly bakers to make cookies, muffins, and treats to pass out. For treat information please contact Sham Sealey at 209-479-4981 or Rita Steele at 858-414-3020. You can also donate to our ministry on the church website or by putting something in the offering plate (in an envelope) marked for Mercy Pedalers. Thank you, Holy Cross for your continued support. Rita Steele, chairperson.

NEW! Emergency Food Bank will be hosting a MOBILE FARMERS MARKET in the Church parking lot- 4th Friday of every month from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM—UPCOMING dates JULY 26th, AUGUST 23rd! Please bring your own bags! For more information, please contact the Church office at 209-472-2177. Please pick up a flyer and help spread the good news to our community!



Mobile Farmers market

NEW!  Emergency Food Bank will be hosting a MOBILE FARMERS MARKET in the Church parking lot- 4th Friday of every month from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM—JULY 26th!   

Please bring your own bags!  

For more information, please contact the Church office at  209-472-2177. 

Please pick up a flyer and help spread the good news to our community!



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: