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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Worship Committee will be Ready
As the 2018 Season Opens July 1

By G.A. Franklin, Guest Speaker Recruiter for 2018
The scheduling of Guest Speakers for the Silver Lake Institute Worship programs experienced an almost 90-day delay as we entered 2018 with the task assigned to us of scheduling a significant number of non-United Methodist speakers for the Institute's worship services. While the suggestion was (and is) admirable and in alignment with our expanded mission, the demographic circumstances were not quite ready for this to take place.
It was just a little over 24 months ago, that the Institute became independent from its church roots and the desire to expand their horizons was growing. The growth, however, was primarily in those wishes and desires because most of Western New York is not yet aware of the transition between the two organizations--the SLI and the UMC. (The UMC didn't want the publicity and the SLI was unable to get it.) There are many who are not even aware of who SLI is yet, although much progress on that front is being made as publicity for the SLE continues.
Most of the awareness of SLI is coming through the Silver Lake Experience (SLE) event and all of its related publicity. It may take years for the popularity of the SLE to trickle down to the individual entities of the Institute and the Asbury Retreat Center. For the most part neither the Asbury Camp nor the Silver Lake Institute get much exposure in the Buffalo or Rochester metro areas. Last year the Rochester paper ran excellent publicity for the Silver Lake Experience but there is little evidence that such is yet to benefit either of the SLE hosting groups individually. After all, publicity is expensive.


After the initial delay in attempting to recruit speakers of various religious backgrounds, it became clear that those engaged in full time ministry were saying they simply were unable to take time away from their responsibilities on a Sunday morning which has also been true of the United Methodist speakers. In addition, other denominations have not been too free to give out lists of their retired clergy, perhaps shielding them from continuous phone calls in their retirement years.
The Silver Lake Institute continues to benefit from a host of retired and available clergy who have warm spots in their heart for the Silver Lake grounds and a mind full of precious memories which they enjoy sharing within the context of the Christian gospel. The SLI annual reports that used to be given at the meetings of the WNY Annual Conference prior to 2010 kept more than one generation in touch with the Institute and helped to promote those good feelings and eager opportunities to preach at the Institute.
So while still holding on to the dream of expanded representation from the religious communities of WNY, the Worship Committee has also realistically turned back to its roots during this time of gradual expansion. Once the Committee's Guest Speaker Recruiter was given the "ok" to fill the Worship Schedule with available speakers, including United Methodists, the slots began to fill in such a way as to overtake the initial delay. As of this writing, 8 of the 10 Guest Speaker slots are filled and others are vying  for the remaining two.
The Guest Speaker for the August 5th Worship Service to be held in Bishop Burt Park, is the Rev. Mark Harris, a Hospice Chaplain serving in the Harrisburg, PA area, and also served as one of the SLE's 2017 Daily Chaplains at that "Experience." The Committee is grateful for this enthusiastic, non-United-Methodist speaker to be so eager to join the SLI worshiping community on Aug. 5th. 

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