The Sacramento Disassembly

Rio Grande Youth Assembly at Sacramento Camp (2017)

At the recent gathering of the New Mexico Annual Conference of the UMC, delegates approved a resolution renouncing all claim to ownership or authority over the extensive Sacramento campground property nestled in the mountains near Cloudcroft, New Mexico.

Apparently, as with church pulpits and other leadership structures, the Sacramento Campground board of directors and staff was infiltrated with WCA and GMC sympathizers who personally disaffiliated from the UMC. Seeing the ease with which the Global Methodist Church could agitate, disaffiliate, and pirate local church properties, the board sought to disaffiliate the campground as well. Their estimates were correct. In the words of one New Mexico pastor, the New Mexico Conference “just gave it away.”

For generations, busloads of Rio Grande Conference UMC young people from Texas and New Mexico border areas, impoverished neighborhoods, and isolated congregations gathered at the Sacramento Campground for a spiritual family reunion, a regional pow-wow of Mexican American United Methodism.

With programs often led by the youth, campers engaged in small groups, discipleship, drama, music performances, recreational activities, and serenades, enjoying informal and formal meals honoring one another and graduating seniors. Traditions ran deep and were passed from one generation to the next.

At the end of the week, hundreds of youth would embrace one another in holy worship and weep tears of joy for their experience while expressing deep grief for having to leave this a mountaintop experience. Many would offer their first public testimonies, bearing witness to their conversion, love, friendship, kindness, and gratitude to a camp that that opened their hearts and minds to God’s beloved community as an alternative to the racism, abuse and trauma lived within the context of poverty.

The experience was Holy Spirit led and Spirit-filled. Youth and staff alike experienced this assembly as a true sacrament, a spiritual awakening, a liberation, and for many, a spiritual calling into ministry. Some youth met future spouses at this campground.

Sacramento was the high point of the year for these youth as well as a place of spiritual retreat and encouragement for laity and clergy. Ministers and other church leaders would drive ten hours or more just to witness what God was doing during the assembly.

Churches like mine spent months raising tens of thousands of dollars to join our youth to over 400 campers traveling from two states to the Sacramento Youth Assembly. Those resources, raised within contexts of scarcity through plate sales, car washes, and other fund-raisers, brought significant sustenance to this campground, allowing it to expand and grow while strengthening its UMC identity.

In spite of this decades-long relationship with Hispanic UMC churches, the former RGC UMC network of churches was not informed of any risk to the UMC status of this campground nor consulted with regards to any proposed legislation granting the campground to a GMC dominated board of directors and staff.

Sadly, the decision to surrender this sacred property to GMC piracy demonstrates indifference toward those who once sustained this campground just as it disregards the spiritual dignity and destiny of Hispanic families that make up the majority population within the contexts of both New Mexico and Rio Texas Conferences.

As with other lax policies and disaffiliations, the GMC infiltration of the Sacramento Camp Board raises questions as to the degree of WCA/GMC influence and unethical collusion continuing within UMC structures. Why was this so easy?

News of this painful loss is just now reaching those whose spiritual heritage is connected to that campground. Sacramento Camp now joins the long list of Hispanic UMC resources and ministries that have been usurped, repurposed, downsized, dismantled, abandoned, sold off and disaffiliated in the ten years following the partitioning of the RGC into the geographical conferences.

The post-separation UMC must do better than this!

One thought on “The Sacramento Disassembly

  • Es la verdad. Lo que hicieron en la Conferencia de Nuevo Mexico fue una desgracia y contra lo que Juan Wesley predicó: Do no harm. Stay in love with God. The WCA and GMC are in love with harming the UMC and their “power”. Pendejos y mas peor pecadores.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *