Chautauqua’s DNA is to pivot and not go away when confronted with challenges, says Robinson, final preacher for 2020 season

If the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson had to write a school essay on what he learned this summer, it might begin this way:


“‘I learned that a 147-year-old institution, that worships its past, is far more nimble and courageous than it is sometimes given credit for,’” he would write. “‘It was a reminder that, in spite of our love of tradition, in the Institution’s DNA is the ability to pivot instead of curl up and go away. I am proud to be a part of it; it has been exciting and humbling. Nothing short of a pandemic says, ‘Change or let it defeat you.’”

Robinson, senior pastor and vice president of religion at Chautauqua Institution, will be the chaplain for the final service of worship and sermon at 11 a.m. EDT Sunday, Aug. 30, on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform. The service will be recorded live in the Amphitheater. His sermon title is “Chautauqua: For Such a Time as This” (Esther 4:14), and the scripture text will be Genesis 32: 22-31.

“I am very close to our entire team: Maureen Rovegno, Zach Stahlsmith, Roz Dahlie and Justin Schmitz and Josh Stafford. It has never taken a team this large to do what we do in the Department of Religion, but it would not work if any one of them was missing,” Robinson said.

Robinson was elected Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire on June 7, 2003, becoming the first openly gay and partnered priest to be elected bishop in historic Cristendom. He served as the ninth bishop of New Hampshire until his retirement in early 2013.

A senior fellow at both the Center for American Progress and Auburn Seminary, Robinson is a celebrated interfaith leader whose ministry has focused on helping congregations and clergy, especially in times of conflict, utilizing his skills in congregational dynamics, conflict resolution and mediation.

He is the author of In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God, published in 2006, and God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage, published in 2012. In addition to being a popular speaker in the United States and abroad, he writes opinion columns on a variety of topics for The Daily Beast, Huffington Post and

This program is made possible by the Marie Reid-Edward Spencer Babcox Memorial Fund.

Tags : chaplain previewChautauqua: For Such a Time as ThisGene RobinsonGod Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay MarriageHuffington PostJosh StaffordJustin SchmitzMaureen RovegnoreligionRoz DahlieThe Daily BeastZach Stahlsmith

The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the recap of the morning worship service. A life-long Chautauquan, she is a Presbyterian minister, author of Chautauqua’s Heart: 100 Years of Beauty and a history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. She edited The Streets Where We Live and Shalom Chautauqua. She lives in Chautauqua year-round with her Stabyhoun, Sammi.