“You’re grounded.” These words may be heartbreaking to a child, but at Pacific Union College’s annual religion department retreat, the term “grounded” was the talk of the weekend.
The annual getaway to PUC’s Albion Field Station, located on the Mendocino, Calif., coast is designed for students and faculty to escape the frenetic pace of school and connect with one another and with God. This year, the theme for the retreat was “Grounded in Christ, Grounded in Faith, Grounded in Love,” borrowed from PUC Campus Ministries. The three spiritual programs of the weekend each focused on one aspect of the theme.
The first program highlighted the significance of being “Grounded in Christ.” Senior Wally Peralta, student association religious vice president, delivered a compelling sermon about the need to have an authentic relationship with Christ.
“Wally set the spiritual tone for this weekend,” said Danny Castanaza, a senior. “His Christ-centered message was, as always, inspiring and uplifting.” Afterwards, students continued the department’s tradition of singing praise songs long into the night, maintaining an atmosphere of worship.
The next morning, PUC chaplain Laffit Cortes delivered a powerful homily about the importance of being grounded in faith. “What really stood out to me was when Pastor Laffit said, ‘What people want to know is how this changed your life,’” sophomore theology major Cesar Machuca commented. “It reminds me that we need to turn head knowledge into practical knowledge.”
Yet students also used their head knowledge about the Bible immediately after Cortes’ sermon. As per tradition, teams competed to win the annual Bible trivia game, which included racing to find verses and spelling the name “Melchizedek.” “My favorite part of the retreat was the trivia,” said freshman theology major Salvador Fariaz. “It was fun to work with and get to know more people in my major.”
After lunch, students had the option of canoeing and kayaking on the Albion River, venturing to the coast to hunt for hermit crabs in the coastal tide pools, or visiting the nearby lighthouse.
As the retreat came to a close, the department gathered for Sabbath evening vespers. After a stirring worship service, Dick Montanez, a junior theology major, presented a moving message about the magnificence of God’s love, and the transformation that being grounded in it can bring.
Bridgette Munoz, a senior religion major, commented about the weekend, “It was very moving for me personally. I felt like God spoke to me in a way that I needed,” she said. “It was like He was reminding me to open my heart to Him and trust Him completely.”
The group finished the evening by playing group games and savoring the last moments of the weekend before returning to PUC the next morning.
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