The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton will give the closing sermon of the 2022 season at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 28 in the Amphitheater. A frequent Chautauqua chaplain and lecturer over the past decade, Sutton will reintroduce himself to the Chautauqua community with his sermon “To Judge, or Not to Judge!” before he becomes the Institution’s new senior pastor in September, following the 2021 retirement of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson from the position.
As senior pastor, Sutton will be in residence each summer to preside over the Institution’s Sunday and daily ecumenical worship services in the Amp, and curating and expanding a diverse roster of guest chaplains. He will also serve in a pastoral role for the Chautauqua community, both locally and nationally.
“Chautauqua’s religious programming is among our most hallowed and sacred, and I’m elated to welcome these two servant leaders to shepherd this legacy while thoughtfully evolving to create as welcoming and inclusive an environment as possible,” Deborah Sunya Moore, senior vice president and chief program officer, said in May in an Institution press release announcing the appointment of both Sutton and Melissa Spas, the new vice president for religion. “… In Bishop Sutton we are blessed to have an internationally recognized pastoral voice to helm one of our country’s most historic and prominent pulpits, selecting the preachers that will provide moral clarity and direction on the day’s most pressing issues of faith and justice.”
Sutton, who will preside over the first service of his new position on June 25, 2023, at the opening of the 2023 Summer Assembly, is currently bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
Sutton has served as canon pastor of the Washington National Cathedral and director of its Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage. A noted leader of retreats and conferences on spirituality, nonviolence, the environment and reconciliation, he co-founded Contemplative Outreach of Maryland and Washington, an ecumenical network committed to the daily practice of Centering Prayer. He is a contributor to the books The Diversity of Centering Prayer and Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: Challenging the Epidemic of Gun Violence.
Sutton is recognized as a thought leader on issues of racial reconciliation, testifying before the U.S. Congress for the H.R.40 bill that calls for the establishment of a bipartisan commission to study reparations as a step toward racial reconciliation. He has appeared on National Public Radio, Fox News, PBS and other networks on the need for reconciliation in America. His board memberships include the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies, the Institute for Sustainable Communities, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Bishops United Against Gun Violence.
“Chautauqua is unique in its ability to address many of the world’s most pressing moral, ethical and religious issues that affect our lives in the 21st century. In the midst of the diverse traditions that could divide us, we need safe places like Chautauqua to find the spiritual core that unites us in our common humanity,” Sutton said in the press release announcing his appointment. “I am both honored and excited to join with this community in exploring faith together.”