It is my privilege and pleasure to greet you as the interim executive director of UCCI. I am honored, humbled, and excited to be stepping into this role for an organization that connects you to each other and God through the sacred places of Moon Beach, Daycholah Center, and Cedar Valley.
I am hard-wired to serve outdoor ministry. Looking back, I can see the seeds for this moment were planted a long time ago through outdoor adventures in childhood. The awakening of my sense of faith and connection to our Creator came through UCCI Moon Beach Camp. My calling to a ministerial vocation came while immersed in nature. Later in my adult life, while serving as a UCC pastor, my relationships kept bringing UCCI more clearly into focus. Specifically, Glenn Svetnicka saw how my passion and past work experience could benefit UCCI. I officially joined the staff at UCCI Cedar Valley as a facilities lead in early 2020 and have been Director of Ministry and Site Operations since this past November. And now, God is working again by presenting this new opportunity as interim executive director.
I am grateful for those who love and work tirelessly on behalf of UCCI. It is a blessing to have a strong and supportive community. Our team is deeply committed to the mission and ministry of the work ahead. I humbly ask that you pray for us as we lean into a new era of leadership.
I am looking forward to being on-site for some events this summer and meeting you in person. I invite you to reach out and introduce yourself in any fashion you like. Also, reach out to our team–we love to work with you for event registration, creating retreats, and forming partnerships that align your mission with outdoor ministry.
I will wrap it up for this edition with a passage from a book I recently came across. It beautifully captures what’s in my heart and the invitation that is waiting for you.
“The natural world–that world where we already belong–is an alluring invitation into the sacred, into relationship with something larger. And that very sacred presence invites us into the wild. The whole process is holy. It is a dynamic, a reciprocity, a loving conversation, a relationship–one that includes me and you and God and the whole wild, alive world.” – Victoria Loorz, Church of the Wild
In your service,
Rev. James Schleif