“We give thanks for the great work Greg has done over his years at Silver Lake,” said Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer, Executive Director. “He has brought great knowledge, skill, experience, and passion to this ministry.”
Greg began his tenure at Silver Lake in January 2012, in the middle of the renovation of the Retreat Center, one of the oldest retreat buildings on camp. The renovation dramatically improved the look and feel of the building, the most adult-friendly retreat building on camp. With the improvements, the building is now filled with retreat groups nearly every available weekend, and often books a year in advance.
Greg’s next project was the addition to the Cedars dining hall, which was needed to accommodate the capacity of the winterized retreat buildings. The new space includes large windows that accentuate the wonder of the forest in which it sits.
Greg also served as project manager on the renovation of the Lodge to achieve US Passive House certification. This elegant improvement not only gave Silver Lake another adult-friendly retreat building, but also allowed the camp to really live out its mission of caring for God’s creation. The Lodge now uses 90% less energy to heat and cool, making it the most efficient building on camp, and very popular with small retreat groups.
In addition to these large-scale projects, Greg has been instrumental in improving the daily operations and dramatically decreasing the backlogged deferred maintenance on site.
As the year-round supervisor of the summer maintenance team, known as ETF, Greg has mentored and taught young people serving on summer staff. Not only did he teach them technical skills from how to swing a hammer to how to mow a lawn, but he has also served as a trusted advisor, helping them navigate the twists and turns of life.
Greg Arifian said he is grateful to have had the opportunity to live and work at Silver Lake.
"I am proud of the work we have done together to put the site on a more solid footing for future generations," he said. "I will cherish the relationships I have made here and hope that they will continue. To past and future summer staff I say; work hard, have vision for your future, build relationships, and take care of and USE your #1 and #2 tools!"
Silver Lake will begin a comprehensive search for the next Site Manager. Greg plans to work through the end of the year, which will take the search into 2020.
"In her capacity as Northeast Environmental Justice Center Director, Pam has been a tireless advocate, educator and teacher," said Rev. Kent Siladi, Connecticut Conference Minister.
"She has brought a passion for addressing the urgency of climate change and she has influenced both youth and adults in finding ways to protect and to care for the planet," he said. "Pam has embraced interdependence and relational culture and her time with us has made a lasting impact. We wish her well as her family moves to California and begins a new chapter."
Pam first proposed the creation of the Environmental Justice Center to the Silver Lake directors in 2012, and began working very part time on it in February, 2013. She was able to build the center up by gaining additional funding from the Connecticut and Massachusetts Conferences, and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.
Her work as the summer Sustainability Director at Silver Lake has been instrumental in delivering the environmental education program there. In that role, Pam managed the garden and the Earth Avengers program, giving Conferees the opportunity to work in the garden, taste the food growing there, and learn what it takes to get food to their plates in their everyday lives.
“We will miss Pam’s energy and passion for the garden and teaching thousands of campers the importance of living their faith through caring for Creation,” Ryan said.
Kent said Pam's position will not immediately be filled as the structure of the new Southern New England Conference staff is still being developed. He pointed out, however, that a commitment to environmental justice is one of the core values of the new conference.
Pam said her work at Silver Lake and with the Environmental Justice Center was a privilege.
"As a young conferee at Silver Lake, I dreamed of growing up to help care for camp, and I’m incredibly grateful to have had that opportunity in such a special way," she said. "It’s been an honor and privilege to work with the existing ministries of Silver Lake and the CTUCC Environmental Ministry Team to increase understanding and activism around environmental justice issues, and to work with the wider UCC and interfaith communities to amplify the moral urgency for real action on climate justice. I am deeply grateful for the support and friendships that I have made along the way, especially in the garden at Silver Lake."