Also known as Gracepoint Winter Gathering.
What is GWG? During the last week of Winter Break, around 1400 students and staff members from across all of our campus fellowships joined together for a retreat hosted by Gracepoint Church. What made this extra special was that this was a first time gathering with students from our East Coast church plants! Before the retreat even started, many of them toured several parts of California, from Monterey to the Sierras, lodging, fellowshipping, and spending quality time together.
CA tour for us started in Monterey with our beloved UMD team. We went on the 17-Mile Drive, stopping a few times to take pictures – from Bird Rock [with a lot of sea lions], to playing around on the beach (football, racing, jump rope with tied up algae). Afterwards, we visited the Ghirardelli store for ice cream (large Earthquake sundaes) and went to Lovers Point Park (stretch of rocks next to the water). We ended the day eating Korean BBQ and playing more games.
We also stayed at our lodge near the Sierra Mountains, walking and hiking and even enjoying a campfire in the gazebo, singing and dancing to campfire songs. Our last stop of the CA tour was San Francisco, where we walked along the trail at Lands End and saw the Golden Gate Bridge, waiting for the sunset. Another scenic spot was the Palace of Fine Arts, and finally landed at our retreat destination in Alameda, where we had dinner with all the other students and played human bingo.
The start of CA Tour!
From the coast to the Sierras
The final stretch..
Once the actual retreat started, our days were packed with getting to know the students from other church plants, listening to messages and testimonies of how God worked in others’ lives, and taking different workshops that increased our understanding of a variety of topics – from comparative religions, Christian history, and the problem of suffering, to being trained up in how to share the Gospel in Korean/Spanish/Chinese, think critically, manage stress, and have more effective Gospel conversations.
One special element to the Winter Gathering was having a guest speaker, Sean McDowell, son of author Josh McDowell and who has studied theology, philosophy, and Christian apologetics. McDowell gave compelling talks on the reasons why one should start with Christianity, as well as recently discovered archaeological evidence that supports biblical history.
Of course, there was a lot of fellowship in-between – the eating, the times in our host homes and with peers, and even performances. Through all the testimonies and messages, we came back stirred and recharged to bring back all we experienced and learned. Look out for us on the UT campus!