by Eric Anderson
SHARON (07/31/2012) -- When your chaplain has the title "Minister of Communications and Technology," things just might be a little different.
Last week at Silver Lake Conference Center, participants in week five activities found themselves -- not chaplain the Rev. Eric Anderson -- delivering the morning message after breakfast in the Social Hall of the Connecticut Conference's outdoor ministry site. After the daily call and response ("God is good!" "All the time!" "All the time!" "God is good!"), the screens lit up with the faces of conferees, counselors, deans and staff, describing a blessing that they had found that day.
Sharing Our Stories at Silver Lake - Plays all three videos
Video production by Eric Anderson
The idea, says Anderson, came from Silver Lake co-Director Anne Hughes, as they had discussed whether he might fill the role of chaplain and of the week's Artist-in-Residence. As it happened, he played both, working with conferees and deans on worship services and then bringing out the camera and microphone in the afternoon.
"The first two mornings," he recalled, "I told stories during the morning message. On Tuesday I invited them to start thinking about their own stories, and let them know that my camera and I would be looking for them in the afternoon."
Fitting in a few moments for the on-camera interviews was something of a challenge amidst the active days at Silver Lake. It was not, however, difficult for the young people to think of wonderful things that had happened for them. "Because I was covered in seaweed, my friend helped me get it off," said one participant in the Mom and Me conference. "We wrote prayers today," said one in the Sanctuary conference, "and some people wrote a really, really good one."
The wonders of deer, sunfish, and catfish fascinated some of the younger conferees, but so did their own generosity. "Our favorite part of the day was donating to missions," said one girl from "God's Imaginarium, and she was echoed over and over again. Conferees from Down and Dirty proudly announced that they had given $174.00 together. Yet another conferee from I Learned It All in Volleyball gave thanks for an experience of equality. "No matter who you are, you're always welcome here," she said.
And they found God, too: on the diving board, in the creatures around them, in the sun on the lake, in the fun, in the achievements, in the comfort of friends, in the candles, in the moments of amazing peace. "It is that grace-filled gift," said Sanctuary dean the Rev. Karl Duetzmann, "when I've listened to youth putting it all together, and dialed right in with their hearts."
"I got teary with these," Anderson said, "while they were speaking, while I was editing, and pretty much every time I've watched them after that."
The Rev. Eric S. Anderson is Minister of Communications and Technology for the Connecticut Conference UCC.