Chautauqua is a beautiful place, with gingerbread cottages and gorgeous gardens on grounds that host 10,000 people during the nine-week summer season (but only 100 or so year-round residents). Fellows and their spouses were provided with passes to all of the week's programming, which included symphony concerts, dance, worship services, lectures by Robert Putnam (author of Bowling Alone), Charles Murray (notorious to me as the author of The Bell Curve), Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States, Margaret Atwood, and the president of PBS television, among others. We had our own time to meet with Chautauqua Institution president Tom Becker, religion department head Joan Brown Campbell (who once worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), religion author Karen Armstrong, the Muslim, Jewish and Christian young people who coordinate the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults, Rabbis Rami Shapiro and Sam Stahl, and the preacher at the worship services that week, Barbara Lundblad of Union Theological Seminary. As a clergy group we discussed adapting to change in the church, the emergent church, and our reactions to the fact that Chautauqua is largely white and affluent (although the institution is trying to make its patron base more diverse). We served Communion to 5,000 people at the Sunday morning worship service, which is certainly a record for me in my small-church ministry.
So I'm grateful to the Religion Department of the Chautauqua Institution, the program's faculty (Jan and Joy Linn and Nannette Banks), and wonderful colleagues and their spouses from across the United States. Sustained and enriched indeed!