Gracious God, mindful of your vision for your people everywhere,
We gather now in the place we call home.
We give you thanks for Miller and Vincent’s vision for this sacred grove:
A haven for heart and mind, a place where roots are put down and lives are shared.
We celebrate coming home.
We thank you for this place that was, from the start, made universal as to creeds;
A place not undenominational but all-denominational;
A place where we can experience the sacred through creation, through the living of life
We celebrate the spiritual.
We thank you for this place where we share a common commitment:
To the arts, to matters spiritual in nature, to constant improvement, and to each other.
We celebrate community.
We thank you for this place where we can not only follow serious pursuits, but also
have a good time, let loose, and relish life.
We celebrate joy.
We thank you for this place where people search for greater levels of knowledge,
understanding, sensitivity, and openness.
We celebrate becoming people willing to listen to each other.
We thank you for this place of century-old trees shading gingerbread cottages,
Of gardens and birds, of barking dogs and stalking cats and
Biblical thunderstomrs and the Miller bells chiming over a moonlit lake.
We thank you for this place of growing diversity in age, religious background,
Life choice, philosophical leaning, faith journey, and family status.
We celebrate the human.
We thank you for this place where musicians lift the soul, painters excite the eye,
Dancers defy gravity, scu;tors tease space, actors conjure reality,
Photographers freeze time, and poets ennoble the human spirit.
We celebrate creativity.
We thank you for this place that informs and impacts our life, that makes us leave
as better people than when we came.
We celebrate value. who understand the difference between a mistake and sin,
We thank you for this place where some of us dance in a certain way, a traditional
Way, and some of us learn to dance in a new way, different from others.
We celebrate letting go.
And finally, Lord, we thank you for the Souls of Chautauqua—
Our Presidents who have created, shaped, and guided Chautauqua for these
One hundred forty-two years:
For Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent;
For Clement Studebaker, Wilson Day, and W. H. Hickman;
For George Edgar Vincent, Arthur Bestor, and Ralph Norton;
For Samuel Hazlett, Walter Braham, William Carothers, and George Follansbee;
For Curtis Haug, Oscar Remick, and Robert Hesse;
For Daniel Bratton and Scott McVay;
And finally for Tom Becker, who continues to bring his vision
To this extraordinary place.
Thank you for the precious gift of Chautauqua.
It is ours both to hold close
And to give away without reservation.
- by Jared Jacobsen