Chautauqua provides a wide variety of services of worship and programs that express the Institution's Christian heritage as well as its interfaith commitment. The Institution, originally the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, was founded as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning for Sunday School teachers. While founders Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent were Methodists, other Protestant denominations participated from the first year onward, and today Chautauqua continues to be ecumenical — as well as interfaith — in spirit and practice.
Chaplains-in-residence, representing a diversity in gender, race and theological perspective, deliver sermons during morning worship services and participate in special programming throughout the community. The afternoon Interfaith Lecture Series at the Hall of Philosophy focuses on issues that impact the lived experience of everyday life from theological, ethical, moral, humanitarian, philosophical and religious perspectives. Chautauqua’s Abrahamic program — guided by a distinguished group of international religious leaders — is designed to build bridges among Jews, Christians and Muslims through both in-season and off-season programming. The Abrahamic Program for Young Adults (APYA) builds off this commitment with weekly discussions and activities for high school and college students. A vibrant sacred Christian music program, with Sacred Song services Sunday evenings and performances at worship services by the Chautauqua Choir, draws together all denominations and faiths.