Welcome to an unforgettable Chautauqua experience…

This website celebrates the unique heritage of Bay View, a Chautauqua on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. The stately pillars of Bay View’s Hall Auditorium symbolize the Four Pillars on which programming and community life in this historic summer enclave are based—Education, Religion, Performing Arts and Recreation. Founded in 1875, Bay View is one of 14 members of the Chautauqua Network.

On these pages, you’ll also find news and opinion about the challenges facing our community as we seek answers to the hard questions surrounding Bay View’s current membership practices.  Chautauqua “is the most American thing in America”
Theodore Roosevelt

INCLUSIVENESS CAMPAIGN UPDATE:  HUD FILES CHARGES AGAINST BV ALLEGING HOUSING DISCRIMINATION—both rejecting past membership practices AND the new 2018 Membership Bylaw.   To read the complete HUD  charges, click here:  Agria v. The Bay View Asoc. of the United Methodist Church – Charge of Discrimination To read the complete HUD Reasonable Cause document, click here: Agria v. The Bay View Assoc. of the United Methodist Church – Determination of Reasonable Cause Click here also for HUD’s Important Notice of Rights and Responsibilities: Important Notice of Rights and Responsibilities

Bay View’s only original membership requirements were to be of age and of “good moral character”.  In the 1940s and again in the 1980s, unfortunate attempts were made to limit membership, first  to “Caucasians” and “Christians”, and then to a limited definition of “Christians”. While the “Caucasian” requirements were removed, in Bay View today only Christians can own a cottage. Applicants for membership are interviewed where their personal religious beliefs are explored, assessed and judged. Applicants must pass a religious test. A conformity of religious beliefs is required. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and Christians who do not espouse the principles of the United Methodist Church are excluded from membership. Since 2009 Bay View members have campaigned to change the membership requirements. A 2018 amendment to the BV By-laws was an important step toward moderating the previous religious test for membership. However, a subsequent directive from the Board president makes it clear that the language in the 2018 By-law (a text of the By-law can be found HERE: 2018 BV Membership By-Law) can be interpreted and applied in such a way as to discriminate based on religion (for the directive, click HERE:  Chism Email).  Although the directive was withdrawn on advice of BV’s attorney, it shows that the amendment can be construed to continue religious discrimination. This is why efforts for a legal remedy continue. On February 21, 2019, HUD filed a Charge of Discrimination against Bay View that alleges that Bay View has violated the Fair Housing Act. Click here for the HUD Charges:  Agria v. The Bay View Assoc. of the United Methodist Church – Charge of Discrimination and click here for the HUD’s Determination of Reasonable cause: Agria v. The Bay View Assoc. of the United Methodist Church – Determination of Reasonable Cause

The Bay View inclusiveness movement seeks to strengthen the community that we all love so much. We seek to persuade our friends and family that an inclusive Bay View will be stronger to face a challenging future. Even though the lawsuit gets the most attention in the media [IN THE NEWS: You can find links to the many national and global media stories about Bay View’s Inclusiveness challenge here], legalities are not the only reason, or even the main reason, behind the inclusiveness campaign. There are at least five dimensions to the inclusiveness movement, each of which cries out for a policy change in Bay View. Each of these is summarized on the links below.

1) Family, friends and neighbors are harmed by the current policy of religious intolerance. Marge Bayes captures the personal stories of many who have suffered and are suffering from this discrimination: Click here to access  WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

 2) The tradition of the Chautauqua movement and of Bay View is one of religious tolerance. Although Bay View and the Chautauqua movement were founded by Methodists, nondenominationalism was a Chautauqua principle from the beginning.   —- The Facts: Bay View’s Membership History is available on the HISTORY page (click HERE).

3) Christianity is welcoming. Jesus Christ supported religious tolerance as does the United Methodist Church.  For articles on this topic see the  REFLECTIONS page.

4) Freedom of religion is a foundational America value. Demanding religious conformity is un-American.  To access an article Religious Freedom: Bay View’s American and True Heritage by Attorney Arthur Anderson, click HERE [pending] which links to the CHAUTAUQUAS page.

5) The law mandates religious tolerance. Federal and state law prohibit discrimination in the sale of housing based on a person’s religious beliefs. Bay View is violating the law.  For a Timeline of Bay View’s Membership History and Legal Challenges pending in Federal Court and HUD:  Click  HERE 

We welcome follow-up questions on the Inclusiveness Campaign. If you can’t find the answer to your questions here, feel free to CONTACT US. We will do our best to respond to you promptly.


This website is not the official website of the Bay View Association. For more information about Bay View events, classes,  and recreational activities, visit bayviewassociation.org.



Shown from left in the panorama:  part of the historic Bay View campus including Women’s Council, Bookstore/Secretary’s office and Speakers’ Platform (now Museums), Epworth Hall (faculty housing), Hitchcock (Festival rehearsal rooms) and Hall Auditorium.

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4 thoughts on “Welcome to an unforgettable Chautauqua experience…

  1. However:
    “Shown from left in the panorama: part of the historic central campus including Women’s Council, former Railroad Station and Speakers’ Platform (now Museums), Epworth Hall (faculty housing), Hitchcock (Festival rehearsal rooms) and Hall Auditorium.”

    Questioning the “Railway station” in that location ……my understanding – when we were seeking a pattern for that little covered platform by the Garden – was that the only station was down between where Stafford’s Bay View Inn now stands and the waterfront….
    A quick glance through Mary Jane Doerr’s “Bay View ~ An American Idea” Pgs 24 ( train station down near Staffords), 27 (identifying both the buildings on Campus as “Speakers Stand or Secretary’s office and the Bay View Bookstore) ; and 132 (photo of Bay View Depot – again) would uphold my impression.

    • Early in Bay View’s years there was a wooden rail service from Petoskey to Bay View. The train station seen on page 132 of MJ Doerr’s book likely is the one for the GR&I railroad once it was completed to Harbor Springs. Fennimore (page 29) shows a much simpler station similar in some ways to one of the museum buildings that was used for the wooden rail extension from the Petoskey terminal to Bay View. We are currently doing more research based on your question, but I would guess this may be part of that answer. I can’t imagine a station house as large as Doerr 132 for the wooden railroad.

  2. “…We believe that these practices, which impose a religious test for membership and cottage ownership, are un-Christian and illegal…”

    How does my view that BV’s current membership requirement is legitimate cause me to renounce my belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior?

  3. Nothing in our discussion or communications has presupposed anyone who supports an exclusionary view for membership is renouncing “Jesus Christ as My Lord and Savior”. I believe that those of us who support excluding people because of their being on a different faith journey are not living up to the teaching of Jesus. His entire ministry was focused on acceptance of people of difference. You are familiar with his restatement of the commandments. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. This begged the question from his disciples, “Who is my neighbor?” You know the rest. Jesus always challenged his disciples to live a life that followed his beliefs, but even they had difficulty doing so. The teachings of his ministry continue to challenge us to this very day, and that challenge is why we are having this conversation. Bay View is a Christian place. As members, we are challenged to “Do As Jesus Would Do” and that is to open our membership to allow people who are of different faiths, but who would support Bay View’s Christian Heritage become members with us and partners in Bay View’s future.

    I have not talked about the legal arguments, because while they may come to pass, that is not our desire. We really just want to see Bay View live up to its Christian Heritage. See my Short History…

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