Franklin leads porch discussion on religious programming initiatives



Robert Franklin believes religion is evolving at Chautauqua Institution.

Chautauqua’s religious programming was the topic of Wednesday morning’s Trustees Porch Discussion.

Franklin, Chautauqua’s director of religion, emphasized four key aspects and goals of religious programming, the first being to introduce Chautauquans to the finest religious speakers and scholarship possible.

He said the Department of Religion is always open to suggestions from Chautauquans for creative and interesting speakers and themes, and now there is an online form where suggestions can be made.

Nurturing the spiritual life is also one of the goals Franklin discussed. A variety of worship services and programs are available daily to satisfy this mission.

“This has to do with the inner life, the inner resources, the moral compass and the sense of connection to the deity that keeps us centered,” Franklin said.

The mission of promoting interfaith literacy to respect and understand the faith of others is highly fulfilled by the Abrahamic Program for Young Adults, where young people can gather to grow their own faith and obtain knowledge of other faiths.

“APYA represents the kind of peace we are trying to foster in the world and in America,” Franklin said.

Two programs Franklin said promote the growth of new leaders, which is the fourth mission in religion, are the New Clergy Program and the Chautauqua Clergy Leadership Program.

The CCLP is a two-year cohort of Christian pastors who work together and meet in intensive three-day seminars with faculty, experts and mentors to become what Franklin calls “public pastors” — individuals who think of themselves as responsible for a large town or county rather than a single congregation.

Chautauquan Teresa Kammerman asked if there was an African-American denominational house on the grounds and how the community can support that organization.

Franklin said there is no official African-American denominational house on the grounds yet, but there is an organization on the grounds that is working toward a proposal for the Board of Trustees for a house on the grounds.

Kammerman also expressed concerns about leaving time available during the day for programming by the denominational houses that does not interfere with Institution programming.

Franklin said he will make the Institution administration aware of the suggestion.

Porch discussions occur at 9:30 a.m. every Wednesday on the Hultquist Center porch, each with a different theme and speaker.