Take a break! Sit and rock on the porch and watch the lake. Enjoy leisurely conversations with interesting people around the breakfast table, eating a meal you didn’t have to fix or clean up after. Take in an incredible concert or stimulating lecture. During this last week of the season at the Chautauqua Institution, participants are enjoying these things in a setting that speaks of another time, a different pace, and values that are not always affirmed in today’s world.
At the Chautauqua Institution, United Methodists are grateful for the hospitality offered at three buildings owned by the United Methodist Church or the United Methodist Women:
The United Methodist House in the center of the grounds is responsible to the Western Pennsylvania and Upper New York Conferences of the United Methodist Church.
The United Methodist Missionary Home and the Fenton Memorial Deaconess Home are owned by United Methodist Women and governed by a Board of Directors, which in turn answers to our United Methodist Women national office. The United Methodist Chautauqua Homes Board of Directors is made up of the UMW Presidents of the Upper NY and Western PA Conferences – and one representative from four districts in Upper NY Conference (Cornerstone, Genesee Valley, Niagara Frontier, and Mountainview), and two districts in Western PA Conference (Erie-Meadville and Kane). These districts are closest to Chautauqua Institution.
Jo Sheetz, a deaconess from the Atlanta area, served as hostess of Fenton Memorial this summer. She reports that there is great diversity among the deaconesses and home missioners who have been guests this summer. August generally has more visitors than July because many of the deaconesses and home missioners are involved in Mission u events across the country. This year Fenton Memorial was chosen as one of the homes on the Annual Bird and Garden Tour.
The Revs. Natalie Hanson and Paul Womack, a retired clergy couple who were hosts of the UM Missionary Vacation Home, completed many tasks to prepare for the 2018 season. This included rug cleaning, checking all of the kitchen equipment, preparing each guest room, replacing porch furniture cushions which seat a multitude of visitors, and as the crowning touch, putting into place the Studebaker above the heads of the dining guests. The flags of the United States and Canada are also put in place to flutter in the Chautauqua breezes, announcing “Welcome” to the front porch.
This year they hosted 153 guests – missionaries, pastors and lay persons -- with breakfast and dinner, prepared and served by staff from a nearby Jamestown restaurant, included. This is one of the very few denominational houses that include meals.
Both of these homes, like any house require upkeep and maintenance. It has been suggested that local UMC units consider “adopting a room” to help in this endeavor.
Chautauqua Institution is itself being changed as it tries to remain relevant to youth, millennials, senior citizens, etc, and these changes will need to be reflected in our Homes as well. The future is both scary and exciting!
--By Shirley Bloomster, Chautauqua Homes Board of Directors representative, Kane District