SHARON (10/10/2016) – Nearly 100 clergy, alumni, association representatives, and friends of Silver Lake Conference Center gathered on Sunday, October 8, in the Social Hall for the Installation of Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer, Executive Director of Silver Lake.
Gackenheimer is the first ordained minister to be installed as a Silver Lake director in the 59 years the Conference has run the camp. Formerly serving in Vermont, Gackenheimer has been involved in outdoor ministry for most of his career. He served 6 years on the Board of Covenant Hills Christian Camp, a joint UCC/United Methodist program in Cabot, Vermont. He is a member of the UCC Outdoor Ministry Association Board, and he filled the Chaplain's office for the Board in 2010. Gackenhiemer was called to the Executive Director position for Silver Lake in November 2015 and began his new role in February of this year.
Fittingly for Silver Lake's first installation, a roaring fire burned in the fireplace keeping the autumn chill off the guests.
The The Rev. Jacquelyn R. Hall, pastor of Winchester Center Congregational Church, led the worship. Music was provided by Amber Bigley, Alan Munshower, and Rocky McAllister. The installation was authorized by a 4-way covenant between the Litchfield North Association, the Congregational Church of Salisbury, UCC, Silver Lake Conference Center Board of Directors, and the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
"This 4-way covenant is a reminder that we are not in competition," said the Rev. Mollie Landers Hatt, Director of Outdoor Ministries at the Horton Center, the Outdoor Ministries Camp for the New Hampshire Conference, UCC.
Landers Hatt reminded the community that those who come to camp — campers, volunteers, and staff — come for a variety of reason and from many places by different roads. Together they work hard to create a safe, loving community. But referencing Matthew 28, when the disciples received their commission on a mountain top in Galilee, Landers Hatt said, "we're not meant to stay on the mountain."
She challenged the Silver Lake community to "be bolder" — bolder in their efforts to make disciples of everyone in the community and bolder in their challenge to others to take what they have learned out into the world.
"We have to leave the mountaintop, go down the road, and leave camp as changed people."
After representatives from each of the 4-way covenant stated their affirmations and prayers of support for Gackenheimer, Connecticut Conference Minister the Rev. Kent Siladi offered him 3 charges.
"Embrace the mission of Silver Lake… dream dreams… and take this ministry on the road," charged Siladi.
And offering a forth charge, Siladi challenged Gackenheimer to keep his passion for outdoor ministry burning.
"Have the fire."
Drew Page is the News & Media Editor for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.