Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde to serve as 1st chaplain for ’22 assembly

If there is a theme for her Week One sermons, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, feels it is perseverance. 

“I will elevate and consider the sacred worth of daily life and small decisions,” she said. “Wherever we find ourselves in relation to the most public of decisive moments, perseverance is what enables us to keep going when we’re stumbling in the dark, unsure where the path will lead.”


The title for her sermon series is “How We Learn to Be Brave: Decisive Moments in Life and Faith.” She will preach at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, June 26, at the Ecumenical Service of Worship in the Amphitheater following President Michael E. Hill’s opening Three Taps of the Gavel. 

is “Stepping Up to the Plate.” She will also preach at 9:15 a.m weekdays at the morning worship service in the Amphitheater. Her other sermon titles include “Deciding to Go,” “Deciding to Stay,” “Deciding to Start,” “Accepting What We Do Not Choose” and “The Hidden Virtue of Perseverance.”

“We make some of our most consequential decisions seemingly on the spot, bypassing conscious thought on account of our feelings,” Budde said. “A situation presents itself and we respond with something more akin to instinct or intuition. Immediacy is the defining characteristic, although in retrospect, we sometimes see how long we had been preparing for that moment.”

Budde spent ample time preparing herself for the work she would do within the Catholic church. From the University of Rochester she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in history. She went on to earn a Master of Divinity in 1989, followed by a Doctor of Ministry in 2008, both from Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS). While studying at VTS, she served 18 years as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. In November 2011 Budde was consecrated as the ninth bishop and first female Diocese of the District of Columbia. 

Budde now presides as spiritual leader over 86 Episcopal congregations, along with the ministries of the Washington National Cathedral. She aids in supervising Cathedral schools throughout the District of Columbia, acting as both the chair and president of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation. As of 2022, she is the author of two books, Receiving Jesus: The Way of Love (2019) and Gathering Up the Fragments: Preaching as Spiritual Practice (2007). Budde’s sermons have been published in a variety of books and journals. 

The Department of Religion had personnel changes since the close of the 2021 Summer Assembly. With the retirement of the Rt. Reverend V. Gene Robinson, his former position as vice president for religion and senior pastor was split. Melissa Spas is the new vice president for religion, and she will be first introduced to the community in her new role when she presides over Sunday’s service. In September 2022, the Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, will become Chautauqua’s senior pastor.

For the 2022 Summer Assembly season, the Rev. Natalie Hanson will serve as interim senior pastor and guide the worship experiences. An elder in the United Methodist denomination, Hanson has served small and large congregations for 40 years and as a district superintendent in western New York for eight years. She has taught preaching and worship to local pastors studying to enter the ministry through a program of Wesley Theological Seminary. She and her husband, the Rev. Paul Womack, have served as the hosts of the United Methodist Missionary House for the past seven years. 

“I am excited to be working with Josh Stafford and Nicholas Stigall as the worship team. I am grateful for the support of Maureen Rovegno and Carolyn Snider in the office, the staff at the Amphitheater, and to get to know Melissa Spas, the vice president of religion,” Hanson said. “We are mutually supportive and we are thinking about the future.” 

Hanson is also excited about trying to combine more themes, words and music in worship so the experience is “integrated, authentic and joyful.”

“I am looking forward to hearing such good preachers,” Hanson said. “I think we have a level of preaching that is engaging, energetic and insightful.”

Joshua Stafford is returning for his third season as Director of Sacred Music and holder of the Jared Jacobsen Chair for Organ. 

“I am excited to have the Chautauqua Choir back this season,” Stafford said. “We will have a full Motet Choir, 32 people. These singers are on a three-year cycle so we can keep the Motet a carefully balanced ensemble. They are the core of the Chautauqua Choir and section leaders in the choir.”

Stafford is reaching out to the Chautauqua School of Music to include more instrumentalists and vocalists in worship. The Ecumenical Worship Service on Sunday will include a brass quintet, flute, violin and tympany. 

“We want to elevate and diversify our music,” Stafford said. “We have also invited some local choirs to sing with us.”

This season Stafford is joined by Nicholas Stigall as the organi scholar. A Knoxville, Tennessee native, he began organ lessons at 15 under Edie Johnson. Now a rising senior, he studies with Janette Fishell and is  majoring in organ performance at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Stigall is a recipient of the Barbara and David Jacobs Scholarship. 

“I am thrilled to be here. As I explored the grounds, the place felt surreal,” Stigall said.

Stigall will provide the accompaniment while Stafford directs the choral anthems and will share other musical parts of the worship services. He will also play at the Wednesday organ recitals on the Massey Memorial Organ and the two recitals on the Tallman Tracker Organ. 

“I am excited to be fully involved with a wonderful choir director but terrified is the word of the day. I grew up learning at Chautauqua,” Stafford said, “and I am excited to share Chautauqua with a new generation.”

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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.