Keep Christ in Christmas Continues Mission of ‘Keeping Christ Alive’

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Our Lady of Malibu Pastor Father Bill Kerze speaks to the group that has gathered for the 52nd annual Keep Christ in Christmas gathering on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Webb Way.

Fifty-two years ago, a small but dedicated group from Our Lady of Malibu (OLM) got together to found Keep Christ in Christmas (KCIC) — a nonprofit focused on bringing Malibu’s Christian faithful together in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

“We’re all children of God, so it’s just a way that everyone can get together and sing songs that we all know and say words that we all feel and show the love toward one another that we have,” KCIC President Mary Motley explained.

For 51 years, OLM parishioner Jackie Sutton shepherded the group — which quickly grew to include the various Christian churches in Malibu, today including Calvary Chapel Malibu, Malibu United Methodist, Malibu Presbyterian, Ascend Christian Fellowship and St. Aidan’s Episcopal churches — but the torch has now been passed to Motley.

Congregations take turns hosting community caroling each Sunday, as a way to unite the Christian groups in Malibu. This year’s schedule included Calvary Chapel hosting on Nov. 29 and OLM on Dec. 6, with Malibu Presbyterian coming up on Dec. 13 and Father Thomas Ellis on Dec. 20.

“Malibu’s Keep Christ in Christmas Crèche has been a long-standing part of the Malibu Christmas season and is for the whole community to enjoy and participate in,” reads the description on the KCIC website. “We welcome everyone to come join in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ with Christmas caroling, reading the Christmas story, lighting of the Advent candles and enjoying refreshments.”

Last year was Sutton’s last year at the helm of the organization, with longtime Malibu resident and OLM paritioner Motley taking the reins. The two shared the presidency for Christmas 2014, but this year, the training wheels are off and Motley is on her own.

“The big secret is definitely to be organized,” Motley shared.

Despite the hard work scheduling participants, Motley said the reward is felt in the Malibu community members and visitors who take part in the festivities.

When asked what is the goal of KCIC in Malibu, Motley said it is for everyone to support one another.

“My greatest goal is that we, Malibu, as a community, will stand together in hope and keeping Christ still alive during all this time,” Motley said. “The right thing is to stand together for each other and share each other’s love — that’s how I feel.”

Though a spirit of togetherness reigns at KCIC, Motley also said there have been challenges.

“I’m still learning the ropes,” she said. “We had vandalism, where our electricity was compromised. Someone got in and was able to compromise the power.”

Vandalism is not new to the group, according to an interview The Malibu Times did with Sutton last year. There is a history of statues going “missing,” sometimes returning damaged or never being seen again. 

One year, the angel was stolen. 

“The [thieves] would’ve had to put up a ladder to get it!” Sutton said at the time.

However, these setbacks have not dampened the Christmas spirit of those for which KCIC is a vital part of the season.

“I love seeing everyone’s faces, as we sing the song ‘Joy to the World,’ we turn toward the street and wave as we sing the song, and to see all the people driving by, you know, honking, and praying to us, and giving us that support,” Motley recalled. “I love that. I loved hearing the little children sing last Sunday, [from] Our Lady of Malibu. I love all that.”

KCIC events take place at 1 p.m. on Sundays at the Malibu Crèche, on the corner of Webb Way and Pacific Coast Highway.