Chautauqua Institution

This week’s article is short and sweet as I wrap up a variety of things demanding attention in order to prepare for a trip north, east, south, and west to take in another week at the delightful Chautauqua Institution and visit family and friends along the way. Tom and I have enjoyed spending a week at Chautauqua Institution each summer, except last summer when we were at home dodging COVID-19. Now we’re both double-vaccinated and ready to head out again.

Chautauqua Institution started in 1874 when Methodist minister John Hell Vincent and a business partner Lewis Miller decided to provide a summer continuing education opportunity to Sunday School teachers. They opened their program as a campsite to thank and instruct Sunday School teachers. From the beginning the plan included offering scientific and cultural subjects along with traditional Sunday School curriculum. In keeping with the “if you build it, they will come” theory, Chautauqua far exceeded initial expectations. Prior to having to close for the Summer 2020 season, Chautauqua Institution was drawing 100,000 visitors during the annual nine-week season.

From One Idea, Many Programs

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle started in 1878, attracting readers around the country. In 1879 the Institution launched the Schools of Languages and Music, along with public school teacher courses.

The School of Theology followed in 1881; then the Chautauqua University in 1883, and a School of LiberalArts in 1885. The initial Chautauqua Institution expanded to the Chautauqua movement. At the height of the movement in the 1920s, several Chautauqua programs were offered around the country.

From One Location, Many Places

In the years I lived in Ohio, I spent several weeks at the Lakeside version of Chautauqua along Lake Erie.  Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Chautauqua is the most American thing in America.”  The basic format of a Chautauqua event is educational lectures by speakers renowned in their fields, preaching, worship, and awe-inspiring musical and theatric performances by professionals and students in training. Additional components of a Chautauqua program include a broad selection of numerous opportunities to socialize and participate in recreational activities – or sit on a swing and read away the week.

From One Denomination, Many Religions

Though founded by a Methodist pastor and partner, to teach Christian Sunday School teachers, the contemporary Chautauqua Institution includes numerous Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic faith expressions. Once a week each of the 22 denominational houses hosts an open house where the weeks visitors are encouraged to stop by to get acquainted with their neighbors.

The site in New York offers workshops, theatre programs, swimming, sailing, book clubs, luncheons for a variety of interest groups, and shopping and dining options. Each day offers multiple wonderful opportunities, including one of my favorites – sitting on a bench looking out over the lake.

A Birthday Gift to Share

A special friend sent me this Birthday Blessing poem by Joyce Rupp from her Out of the Ordinary collection of prayers, poems, and reflections. I am feeling blessed by all the friends, family, and opportunities I enjoy these days, so I thought I’d share this with you.

A Birthday Blessing

May you sip contentedly
From the fragrant wine of your life.

May you stretch eagerly
into the opening light of each new day.

May you discover kernels of wisdom
Hidden in unwanted experiences.

May you find comfort and consolation
When you are hurting.

May you hear the tender voice of the Beloved
Calling to you in the deepest part of your being.

May you have a soul friend whose unconditional love
Gives you courage to keep growing.

May you be a bearer of loving kindness
When you meet those who suffer.

May you gather your daily blessings
to your heart and relish their presence.

May you never give up seeking greater peace
For yourself and for your world.

May you go to sleep each evening aware of being held in
The embrace of a merciful and welcoming God.

May you hear the marvelous music singing in your soul every moment,
Lauding the exquisite gift of being alive.

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