The Silver Lake Institute was a part of the United Methodist Church until February 2, 2016, when in the State Supreme Court located in Warsaw, NY, SLI was granted the final decree upon which the re-statement of their charter was approved. SLI is now an independent, 501c3 nonprofit organization. Under the NYS DEC, SLI is also designated as a municipality because of the self-governing feature of the charter.
Being a part of the Church for 159 years (144 of which have been spent at Silver Lake), the need to be totally self-supporting wasn't as urgent as our sister organization, the Chautauqua Institute which maintained its independence from its beginning. This attracted philanthropists and caused the organization to become more non-denominational, non-parochial, well rounded, and better prepared to address faith and worship in broad, unoffensive terms many decades before it ever was thought through at the Silver Lake Institute.
Now that the Silver Lake Institute is independent and accepting NYS government grants, it is now time to transition to an independent, institute model of dealing with faith and religion. Most of this model is in dealing with careful labeling, creative and inspirational language, and careful, cautious planning of content which would meet the new Epworth standard.
The SLI Lake-wide Memorial Service already lends itself well to this thinking. We will encourage Silver Lakers to write inspirational thoughts which are either already in their hearts or which they have heard elsewhere to be used in Epworth while we preserve the use of Scripture for use in other locations. One example is the beloved reading done by Walt and Gene Barger which we use several times during the season.
When praying in Epworth, we should reference prayers prayed by the American Indians which do not usually use the well known names of God, but utilize more of the work and comfort of the "Generous Creative [or Rejuvenating, or Redemptive, or Empowering, etc.] Presence of the Universe." This exercise, alone, can be inspirational as we seek to name the "God of our faith" in new and exciting ways. Some folks love the simple benediction, "May the Force be with You" as each one present thinks about the "Force" in their lives which leads them from day to day. The Hebrews had many names they used for God. We can learn a lot from them.
I am going to begin a list of secular music which I have found profoundly moving in my lifetime and could be very inspirational used in an Epworth "service." Who wouldn't be moved and inspired over a Memorial Service containing the song, "When You Walk Through A Storm" and its beautiful closing line, "You'll never walk alone"? Or how about "To Dream the Impossible Dream"? or "Climb Every Mountain." I would invite you to join me in creating this list by offering your own suggestions of inspirational secular music.
The British Rock Version:
You will find it additionally uplifting when you are able to read your own words as part of the Silver Lake Group that gathers for the new style of ministry at Epworth; or to sing one of your suggested songs that lift you up along with others by your choice of meaningful music.
Do not spend your time getting discouraged over the supposed limitations of Epworth. Instead, let us begin to think, plan, and aim toward a new, exciting and inspirational future when we gather at Epworth.