The Lutheran Summer Gathering at Silver Bay
The fun and relaxing week long vacation for spiritual and physical renewal on beautiful Lake George
Redeemer Presbyterian, Burlington, MA
Reformation Lutheran, Rochester, NY
Saugerties United Methodist Church, Saugerties, NY
Shepherd of the Sea, Garden City, SC
South Wedge Mission
St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, Dover, DE
St. James Lutheran, Gettysburg, PA
St. John's Lutheran Church of Farmersville, Easton PA
St. John's Lutheran, Poughkeepsie, NY
St. John's Lutheran, Summit, NJ
St. John's Lutheran, Altamont
St. John's Lutheran, Nazareth, PA
St. John's Lutheran, Rochester, NY
St. John's Lutheran Church, Penn Yan, NY
St. John on the Mountain, Bernardsville, NJ
St. Luke's Lutheran, Farmingdale, NY
St. Luke's Lutheran, New Rochelle, NY
St. Mark's Lutheran, Baldwinsville, NY
St. Matthew's Lutheran, White Plains NY
St. Matthew Lutheran, Moorestown, NJ
St. Michael's Lutheran, Camillus, NY
St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Eggertsville, NY
St. Paul's Lutheran, Sarasota, FL
St. Paul's Lutheran, Washington DC
St. Peter's Lutheran, NYC
St. Peter's Lutheran, Huntington Station, NY
St. Peter's Lutheran, Olney, MD
St. Petri, Malmö Sweden
St. Stephen Lutheran, Syracuse NY
Trinity Lutheran, Brewster, NY
Trinity Lutheran, Spencerport, NY
Trinity Lutheran, Staten Island, NY
Trinity Lutheran, West Sand Lake, NY
Trinity Lutheran Church, Rocky Point
Trinity Lutheran, White Plains, NY
Zion Lutheran Church, Clarence Center, NY
Zion Lutheran Church, Geneva, NY
Congregations Participating in the Lutheran Summer Gathering at Silver Bay
Atonement Lutheran, Rochester, NY
Bethel Lutheran, Auburn, MA
Bethel Grove Bible Church, Ithaca, NY
Christ Ascension, Philadelphia, PA
Christ Lutheran Church, Woodstock, NY
Christ Lutheran, Floral Park NY
Christ Lutheran, Islip Terrace, NY
Christ the Servant Lutheran, Bellingham, WA
Christus Victor Lutheran Church, Durham NC
Crossroads Lutheran Church, Amherst NY
Eden Prairie United Methodist Church, Eden Prairie, MN
Epiphany Lutheran Church, Centerville OH
Faith Lutheran, Lavallette, NJ
First English Lutheran, Syracuse, NY
First Unitarian, Portland, OR
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Hampton, VA
God's Love Lutheran, Newtown PA
Good Shepherd Lutheran, Fayetteville, NY
Good Shepherd Lutheran, Jericho, VT
Good Shepherd Lutheran, Loudonville, NY
Good Shepherd Lutheran, Pearl River, NY
Good Shepherd Lutheran, Tonawanda, NY
Grace Lutheran, Hockessin, DE
Grace Lutheran, Scarsdale, NY
Holy Trinity Lutheran, Brooklyn, NY
Holy Trinity Lutheran, Buffalo, NY
Holy Trinity Lutheran, Rockville Centre, NY
Holy Trinity Lutheran, Saranac Lake, NY
Hope Lutheran, The Villages, FL
Incarnate Word Lutheran, Rochester, NY
John Wesley United Methodist, Gapland, MD
King of Kings Lutheran Church, Liverpool, NY
Living Savior Lutheran Church, Charlotte, NC
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Woburn, MA
Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Garden City, NY
Our Redeemer Lutheran, Scotia, NY
Our Savior Lutheran Church, Endwell, NY
Our Savior's Lutheran, Fairfield, CT
Prince of Peace Lutheran, Clifton Park, NY
A Brief History of Lutherans at Silver Bay
In 1929, action was taken to merge the three synods of the greater New York territory into one. This merger brought congregations from NY, NJ, and New England into the United Lutheran Synod of New York. At the synodical meeting in 1931, the Rev. Paul C. White was elected as Secretary for Religious Education. Working with the Synod’s Parish Committee on Education, he set out to find a suitable location for a large assembly of church leaders and workers "to further train themselves for service in the church, to introduce them to the latest and best methods of teaching, and to provide opportunity for helpful conferences of consecrated leaders of the Lutheran Church."
The YMCA Conference Center at Silver Bay was chosen as the site for the assembly, serving Sunday School teachers, Women’s Missionary Society, Luther League, pastors, and laity. There would be daily lectures and conferences for the Luther League, vital experiences in worship as an integral part of the program, and a rare opportunity to fellowship conferences with other Lutheran workers.
Two hundred and fifteen persons attended the first "Annual Lutheran Summer School for Church Workers" in 1932 at a cost of $18.50 per participant with great financial support from outside because of the depression. Children were in attendance too. The courses offered were 1) A Study of Childhood; 2) The Principles of Teaching; 3) The New Testament; 4) Children's Materials and Methods; 5) Young peoples Methods and Materials; 6) Training in Worship and Devotional Life.
As years went by the number of participants steadily increased and various conferences continued to be held as part of the Annual Summer School. Planners focused on eight areas as part of a growing program: 1) Bible study, including God's call to serve; 2) Methods and Materials for the Sunday School; 3) Stewardship and Evangelism; 4) World Missions and the Outreach of the Church; 5) Young Peoples’ Work and Help for the Luther League; 6) Special interests that arise; 7) Help from Pastors and Laymen; 8) Help in the Women's Missionary Society.
No Summer School was held in 1945 because the government had forbidden the large movement of people during this time of the war.
Following the war and throughout the fifties and up to 1962 annual attendance at the Annual Lutheran Summer School was in the six and seven hundreds, rising even into the eight hundreds at times. In 1962, with the merging of the United Lutheran Church in America with the Augustana Synod, the Suomi Synod, and the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, New England split off from New York, leaving the New York Synod as the sole sponsor of the Annual Lutheran Summer School.
In 1966 the New York Synod divided into the Upper New York Synod and the Metropolitan New York Synod. Each of the two synods agreed to continue with the Annual Lutheran Summer School for Church Workers. A great majority of those attending in 1967 came from the Metropolitan Synod. In that same year, Dr. Paul C. White completed his years of service to the church and resigned with great recognition as Dean of The Annual Lutheran Summer School. Throughout all the years of the Summer School Dr. White was its guiding hand as Dean in the planning and conducting of the school, urging participants always to "stay with the program."
Representatives of the two New York synods planning the 1968 summer school decided to rename the Annual Lutheran Summer School for Church Workers as the Lutheran Summer Conference. The Rev. Gustave Wedemeyer, Jr., Assistant to Bishop Perry of the Upper New York Synod, began service as Dean of the Conference. Worship continued as an important element of the Conference, and at times afternoon forums were held, born out of a concern to have extended time to deal with contentious issues causing church division. Initially one-hour classes were taught in the morning and repeated in the afternoon, and two-hour seminars were instituted to allow more time for study and discussion.
Upon the death of Dr. White, the Metropolitan NY Synod donated $25,000 to the Conference to fund the yearly Dr. Paul C. White Bible Study. A like amount was given to the Conference in memory of Metropolitan New York Synod President Alfred Beck upon his death, which was used to offer scholarships to those in need.
Following the 1998 Conference, Pastor Wedemeyer concluded his service as Dean and was replaced by the Rev. Dr. Charles Bang, Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Buffalo, New York. When Pastor Bang retired as Dean in 2007, Steven Harris, a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Fayetteville, New York, was appointed to serve as Dean of the Conference.
During these years Bill Keller and Pastor Thomas Mugavero served as Conference Directors on behalf of the Metropolitan New York Synod. Chad Volkert followed Pastor Mugavero as Director.
In 2016, under the leadership of the newly installed Dean and Director of Ministry, the Rev. Marie Jerge, the 84 year old conference decided once again to evolve to meet the needs of the attendees, Synods and larger church and was renamed the Lutheran Summer Gathering. In 2017, the Gathering celebrated its 85th anniversary in conjunction with celebrations and recognition of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In 2022 after two years away due to the COVID-19 pandemic with only virtual events, the Gathering returned to Silver Bay for a wonderful week with friends old and new. Pastor Jerge retired as Dean following the 2022 event and will be succeeded by the Rev. Dr. Arden Strasser.
The Gathering celebrates 8 decades of offering individuals and families a rich experience of worship, learning, and recreation.
- contributed by the Rev. James Bresnahan