The Rev. Kathy Peters at Silver Lake's 50th anniversary celebration in 2007.
Photo by Eric Anderson
by Rev. Kathy Peters
SHARON (07/18/2012) -- Sarah turned five our first year at the Lake. Some days we needed to carry this not-so-little one, who had just begun to walk at age three, back up the hill. And the noise in the Social Hall frightened her so much that she often needed to leave during the singing after meals. Yet from the first she loved Silver Lake and felt very safe and cared for at this place!
She and our beloved Alden Tyrol, who served over thirty years there, had a special relationship from the first time they met! She misses him (he died just last year). Today Sarah is almost twenty-nine years old and is an “assistant” counselor each year for the conference Sing Praise. “They couldn’t do it without me, Mom!” she says, and she is right!
Sarah is a highly verbal, intellectually challenged young adult who truly benefits from the atmosphere of radical love and hospitality that is Silver Lake Conference Center. “Silver Lake is my other family!” she tells anyone who asks.
As a parent, dean and chaplain, I have always known that Silver Lake cares for our children (and adults) in a special way. Amazing things happen each week at this place that welcomes each person “no matter who they are or where they are on life’s journey.” It is not just a slogan here, it is the way.
In Praise of Outdoor Ministries
Silver Lake alum Devan Mulvaney produced a special video on behalf of the UCC's Outdoor Ministry Association, which premiered at the National Youth Event on Friday, July 13. Featuring NYE attendees and their memories of summer camp experiences, the piece emphasizes the importance of outdoor ministry for faith formation and Christian discipleship.
Sarah celebrated several birthdays at the Lake, but the most memorable was the year that a Social Hall filled to capacity “thought” Happy Birthday because the noise of hearing it sung was too much for her! More than one of us wept at the amazing beauty of the moment.
Several years later, during an all-conference worship service, this same child got on the microphone to sing “Don’t Laugh at Me!” a song about the acceptance of all God’s children. We wept again.
Our son Matthew is also a talker and a chemist and one of the kindest and brightest people I know. He started coming to Silver Lake with me when he was seven years old and has been a conferee, on Camp Family, on staff, a counselor, a dean, the assistant summer director, and is now on the Silver Lake Board of Directors. Silver Lake is his family as well.
My own “second career” call to ordained ministry blossomed in early morning chats with Alden as he smoked his pipe and wisely listened as he leaned up against his truck. I miss him, too.
I love Silver Lake because it truly is a place where all God’s children are loved and cared for in extraordinary and life affirming ways. It really is God’s backyard and a mighty fine taste of God’s kingdom come!
The Rev. Kathy Peters is pastor of the United Church of Chester UCC.