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Religion at Chautauqua

"Chautauqua is not just good for the brain; it is good for the soul."

~ Chautauquan Daily, August 10, 1993


For more information, please contact:

Tina Downey

Director of the Chautauqua Fund

(716) 357-6406 |


As humans, we are seekers...of wisdom, purpose and meaning. We live in awe of the sacred. We declare that the essence of our times urges us to learn to look beyond our own individual lives, and to discover that meaning is found in connections–to place, ideas, faith, and to other lives.

At Chautauqua, cultivating compassion through honest dialogue and heartfelt sharing of experiences - where differences between religions are respected and similarities discovered - creates a genuine and yet religiously diverse community. This central idea serves to deepen, broaden, and challenge the beliefs of all Chautauquans.

From the earliest days, religion played a vital role in creating the Chautauqua experience. At this time in our nation’s history there is a deep yearning for both spiritual development and an exploration of ethical issues. The Department of Religion answers that call through its interfaith programming, Sunday worship services, and daily lecture platform in the Hall of Philosophy.

Worship & Sacred Music

altChautauqua’s ecumenical pulpit commands nationally and internationally respected preachers. Chautauqua sermons–a tradition of Christian worship that welcomes, broadens and elicits practical responses–constitute a powerful history of America’s religious conscience. Supported and enriched by a vibrant sacred music program, which draws from gospel, Protestant hymns, and classical music from all denominations, Chautauqua’s treasured worship experiences, celebrated in settings of natural beauty and serenity create an unparalleled environment of the sacredness of life.

Ethical & Spiritual Education

At the daily afternoon lectures, held at the Hall of Philosophy, Chautauquans are challenged by leaders of various faith cultures to think about how the various issues of the day affect their personal life choices and paths. As we seek to present an interfaith perspective of these issues, we must draw on speakers from an increasingly competitive market.

You can help guarantee a forum of the highest intellectual and practical application of today’s spiritual and ethical issues, by creating a named endowment in support of these religion lectures.

The Abrahamic Community Program

This multi-faith, multi-faceted program, begun 10 years ago and spearheaded by a distinguished group of international religious leaders, is positioned to reach out nationally and internationally to build bridges and gain friendship among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The purpose of the Abrahamic Community programs is to educate in the fullest sense–to learn and understand how the three religious faiths can define a common purpose and seek a common mind, particularly with regard to three key areas: (1) science and the ethical and moral issues raised in science; (2) the arts; and (3) pluralism and the search to define the common ethical premises of a civil society. Through its programming during the Chautauqua season and beyond, such as the November 2005 conference in London at the Ismaili Centre, Chautauqua is a preeminent convener of existing multi-faith communities to achieve these ends.

Special events and programs are being established to involve youth, especially high school and college students, to encourage their participation in discussions surrounding the realities of religious pluralism and its impact on young people.

To give a gift in support of this initiative click here.

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P.O. Box 28
One Ames Ave.
Chautauqua, N.Y. 14722
Institution website

Chautauqua Institution is a non-profit organization, dependent upon your gifts to fulfill its mission. Gate tickets and other revenue cover only a portion of the cost of your Chautauqua experience. A community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state, Chautauqua Institution comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Visit our website for more information.