Wednesday, August 19, 2009


"Every man has the right to be all he can be, to know all he can know."

-Bishop John Heyl Vincent
Founders Day, 1888
Chautauqua Assembly

These powerful words drove a man and his movement more than a century ago in a way that ensures it endures to this day.

John Vincent began life of humble means in Alabama in 1832. He became a circuit riding Pennsylvania minister who spent more than a decade developing a new method of Sunday school. This passion developed into the establishment in 1874 of a summer training place to further educate Methodist Sunday school teachers. This place on Chautauqua Lake, NY became known as the Chautauqua Assembly.

The concept grew in scope as Vincent expanded his vision to include people who, like him, lacked means but desired to learn more. The Chautauqua Scientific and Literary Circle grew to a movement, with hundreds of thousands of people taking part in courses or enrolled in the Chautauqua College. Today the campus thrives every summer with all manner of people comming to celebrate knowledge, faith and the arts. For a glimpse of this impressive man please read this biographical sketch.

This quote is painted over the lobby of the Chautauqua Athenaeum, the grand hotel on the Chautauqua campus. I find it to be in keeping with our beliefs about the young people we serve, don't you?


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