Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Fourth Biennial SLE Runs Thursday-Saturday:
Silver Lake Experience is 2nd largest event since SundaySchool Conventions came to S/Lake Institute 100 years ago
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First Draft; may need proofin0g or corrections.
When local SLI historians consider the high points of its 174-year history (165 of which were charter incorporated under the NYS legislature) they think of the special events that have drawn the best attendances and continued on for more than one season. 

Such is the case for the Silver Lake Experience (SLE) which was born in the difficult years of negotiations between the Legal Committee of SLI and the Trustees of the newly created Upper NY Conference of the United Methodist Church between 2013-2014. The UNYAC wanted to dissolve the SLI and leave it with a very unknown and expensive future.

Instead, the Silver Lake Institute received new life on February 2, 2016 in the NYS Supreme Court, Warsaw, as a totally independent and now 501c3 federally recognized non-profit and tax-deductible entity. Friends and supporters can make tax-deductible donations. You are also now able to leave a portion of your Estate, or all of it if you have no beneficiaries, without penalty of tax. The same is true of the Asbury Retreat Center. Consider these two in your gifting.

Yes, at times the tensions were high, the negotiating positions seemed unreasonable, and the two sides believed themselves as being disrespected by the other. In response to such hurtles, it was suggested that the SLI and the Asbury Retreat Center demonstrate their abilities by rising up above feelings and seek to put on a joint venture to demonstrate  that love for one another can even overcome the worst of struggles.

And so it was that the two got together and came up with a concept for a "Mini Chautauqua" in principle but named "Silver Lake Experience." The goal was to provide the best programming that could be afforded and to keep the cost even lower, so finances would not be a factor for families wanting to come to the three-day event.

The first event would take place in two years and would include educational presenters, hands-on workshops, musical workshops (2017), historical persons in portrayal, boat tours, porch chats, early morning devotions, quiet walks, three nights of live, quality musical entertainment, Historic Epworth Hall, great food, beautiful surroundings, and spiritual opportunities. There will be over 80 workshops and presenters from which to choose. (Click on www.silverlakeexperience.org then click on Programs for more information.)

When arriving, go directly to Epworth Hall (Rt.39, Chapman Rd. corner  Janes Ave. (one block before Perry Ave.) to register or sign in and get your sign-in, name tag, and information & product Baggett. Use the ramped entrance on the Janes Ave. side of Epworth

This week will be the Experience's 4th biennial three-day event except for skipping the pandemic year of 2021. There were Experiences in 2015, 2017, 2019 and this week--2022! Attendance and accommodations have been excellent each time. The evaluations by participants not only give helpful suggestions, but rank the SLE very high on their satisfaction scale! 

Therefore, we are proposing to call this era of combined effort between the Silver Lake Institute and the Asbury Retreat Center -- The Silver Lake Experience--Renaissance Era !

For a list of the other era's and additional historical information, click on "read more."

Sometimes the highlights are remembered more by some of the special events such as when:
  • President Theodore Roosevelt agreed to speak at the Assembly Auditorium circa 1908; 
  • Ruby Shoes performed (had we ever had anyone louder?);
  • Barry Lillis of Channel 2 fame, now ordained priest, spoke at Epworth Hall. 
  • The Sunday that Bishop Violet L. Fisher was invited by then-Chaplain Greg to preach at a service held at Epworth Hall caused many to ask one another if SLI had ever had a bishop come to SLI? No one could remember.
  • The pre-season of 2017 when we lost our beloved friend, Brad Hennig, and the prayer circle, hand in hand, held on his gently lighted front lawn.
At other times memories are more centered around the building as opposed to individual events such as the spiritual and/or life commitments made at the former altar rail at Epworth which moved and motivated many a young person. Now worship is held lakeside near the Blue Dock with rain location being at Hoag across the street.

Included in this list of era's could be this interpretation of SLI's history: 
  1. The Bergen Era -- The exuberant tent meetings (revival services) held in Bergen, NY, over a span of 22 years.
  2. The Camp Wesley Era -- The modified (more orderly) tent meetings first held at Silver Lake, NY, in 1873 and continuing on for a span of 12 good years.
  3. The Chautauqua Building Era -- The adoption of the Chautauqua method of classes and learning in the late 19th Century beginning 1886/1888-1918 for a span of approximately 32 good years, some of which were very good years. The Building Era included: -- Assembly Auditorium (1888), Hall of Philosophy, later Epworth Inn (1889), Epworth Hall (1892), WCTS HQ Building, now Stoody Hall (1895), Hoag Memorial Art Gallery (Willed to SLI by Mr. Hoag of Alden in 1895), spanning 10 years including fund raising, architectural drawings and approvals.
  4. The Sunday School Convention Era -- Circa 1922 through circa 1929. Although it was a hosted outside program, the principles of teaching volunteer teachers to learn better methods of instruction for the Christian Faith was very compatible with the SLI and Methodist Church mission of those years. Precisely when the Conventions discontinued at SLI is not recorded, possibly unknown at this point. Your help is always welcome. (Originals can be scanned and returned quicklyexcept SLE week.)
  5. The Church Youth Camp Era -- The transition from family camping to youth camping is an overlapping era. For example, the Epworth League is credited with raising the funds for the building of Epworth Hall in 1892. The Rev. John Stoody is credited for working with the Epworth League to return camping for youth back into an emphasis in 1908. The Sutton Estate was purchased by SLI in the early 1940's which brought the Sutton's beautiful facility into the SLI family of buildings. The Sutton's Guest House became the Methodist Manor which was well used initially for SLI program guests and later for the many needs of the former UMC WNY Conference and its summer camping program. This grew and experienced very good years especially when scholarships to camp were donated.  More date research is needed for this era.
  6. The Silver Lake Experience--Renaissance Era ! This is one of the best organized events that I have seen in all my years of work and hobbies. The "Experience" is two year's worth of planning and scheduling each time it happens, but guests really appreciate the extra efforts. There certainly are many good people on the planning committee, but the committee's co-chairs, Kathy Schaefer and the Rev. Sue Russell, assisted by Loren Penman, are three of the finest with real heads for detail and quality. A host of volunteers back up the well discussed details. Register (www.SilverLakeExperience.org) and come ... It won't hurt to bring along an umbrella. It seems that having one in hand, or near, has the tendency of keeping rain away. See you there!

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