This year’s Christmas Institute explored the ‘shadows’ of our spiritual lives while bringing others onto a path with Christ.  CI-PNW was on December 26-30, 2016.

By Noemi Tinte and Anthony Sy with Jesse N. Love

CI-PNW helps young people seek a clear path towards God

Campers at CI-PNW are participating in Olympic Fest, competing in fun and games in-between workshops and devotions.

In Bellingham, a few hours north of Seattle, a group of enthusiastic young people is gathering again at The Firs for Christmas Institute or CI. It is a 5-day camping experience for youth in 7th grade to those in their second year, post-high school. This event was held on December 26-30, 2016.

Around 90 campers, primarily Filipino youth from the Seattle Area and Canada, gathered for Christian fellowship, games, workshops, Bible study, Methodist Talents in View (MTV Nite) and more. It was a great way to celebrate and stretch the season of Christmas with old friends as well as new ones, too.

Faith Sairez and Anthony Sy lead a conversation on discrimination and prejudice.
How do we discover our unique self? This was the question posed by the Rev. Dr. Bill Gibson during his message at CI-PNW using the example of David and Goliath.

The theme for CI was “Living in the Shadows”. Leaders and campers identified “shadows” cast by expectations of self through influences of parents, friends, and even communities. They can be voices, visuals, or ideas that surround youth daily either to help benefit or impact in ways people may not be ready for. By seeking God, campers learned to emerge from these shadows so they can become a light for others who are also trying to find their way towards the Spirit.

CI featured a very comprehensive Bible study produced by its Design Team. Lessons were rooted in scripture, guiding and connecting the youth to their Bibles without having to dive straight into text and understand it word for word.


Before his message, the Rev. Dr. Bill Gibson is prayed over by Jordan Ocampo, one of CI-PNW’s veteran leaders.

Campers learned to grow in their faith through small and large group activities led by clergy and leaders who tailored the lessons to each age group. Pastors Shalom Agtarap (Highline UMC), Lara Bolger (Redmond UMC), Dione Corsilles (Blaine UMC), Pastor Mark (Beacon UMC), Pastor Bill Gibson (Director of Strategic Faith Community Development, Greater Northwest Area), Pastor Ferdie Llenado (Bethany UMC), Pastor Carlo Rapanut (Superintendent, Alaska Conference) and Pastor David V. Valera (Exec. Dir. of Connectional Ministries, PNWUMC) all ‘headlined’ a diverse set of clergy working to navigate youth through their shadows.

CI is planned year-round beginning immediately after the previous year’s CI when leaders go through surveys completed by all attendees. Leadership visited local churches, even in Canada, to help promote this camp.

Isabella Tinte and Isaiah Valera team-up for worship music at CI-PNW.

CI continues to be a cherished religious and cultural tradition for many young people in the PNW and around the world. CI helps to nurture Christian growth and leadership among its attendees. Each person brings their own stories and experiences with them contributing to a shared understanding of each other’s growing faith.

Christmas Institute is open to all who are seeking Jesus Christ, spiritual guidance, acceptance, and fellowship*. 
If you would like to attend CI and be a part of its leadership team, contact for more details. You can also visit or visit Facebook at

Before being excused for lunch, the Rev. David V. Valera prays with campers at CI-PNW.


Special thanks to Hazel Rollolazo and Isabella Tinte.

*Courtesy of

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