Visit this page often for current news and insight concerning issues vital to the future health and harmony of the Bay View Chautauqua[Hyperlinks speed navigation to Bay View stories/comments:

WEBSITE FOLLOWS UNFOLDING COMMUNITY CRISIS: The Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua website has documented past struggles to help Bay View become compliant with Federal law. The following will help bring the story of this search for justice up to date:

7/27/2017  WHY LONGTIME BAY VIEW MEMBERS URGE A NO-VOTE ON THE SO-CALLED ‘RESPONSIBILITY’ BY-LAW AMENDMENT.  Seven reasons why the amendment threatens the community’s future.                                                                7/27/2017  BAY VIEW WILL NOT LOSE ITS TAX STATUS.  Article by Don Duquette, Attorney and Bay View member.  What effect, if any, will removing the religious test for membership and trustees have on tax deductions for Bay View or its 501 (c)3) non-profit tax status? Short answer: Bay View’s non-profit tax exemption is not in jeopardy.

7/26/2017   A template for Bay View?   Take a look at the website for Lakeside Chautauqua in Ohio.  Lakeside has maintained its Christian focus and worship while meeting federal guidelines for fair housing.  Click on the link:

7/25/2017 THE FACTS: Bay View’s Membership History, by Bay View member and attorney Arthur Anderson.                                                                                               7/25/2017 BAY VIEW ASSOCIATION FACING COMPLAINTS OF DISCRIMINATION Channels 9-10 – Cadillac, Michigan                                                                                 7/18/2017 BAY VIEW HOMEOWNERS ACCUSE ASSOCIATION OF ENFORCING DISCRIMINATORY BYLAW   Channels 9-10 – Cadillac, Michigan                                7/17/2017 GROUP FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST BAY VIEW FOR ‘RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION’  Channel 4 – Traverse City, Michigan

7/18/2017 ROOTS OF BAY VIEW CONTROVERSY TO BACK TO 1940’S  Petoskey News-Review.                                                                                                               7/19/2017 WHAT IS BAY VIEW?  Petoskey News-Review The community crisis in a Nutshell.                                                                                                                                  7/14/2017 PREJUDICE?  Lawsuit Claims Bay View Religious Requirement Is Discriminatory.  Petoskey News-Review

6-3-2013…BV MEMBERSHIP POLICY REPORT, JUNE 2013: Attorney warns BOT that delays, misinformation and reliance on Becket Fund opinion may put individual BOT members and community at serious fiduciary risk. A Report is now available that updates Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua on the campaign to bring the Bay View membership policies into compliance with Chautauqua traditions, federal and state Fair Housing laws and the policies of the United Methodist Church:
Summer 2012 to Spring 2013

  • Summer 2012:  a BOT-appointed committee reaches consensus on a more inclusive two-prong membership track;  24 hours later, Heritage Alliance supporters withdraw from the agreement (see Special Committee on Membership Report 2012)
  • December 2012: Heritage Alliance proposes a “Legacy Only” solution
  • February 2013: BOT approves “Legacy Only” compromise, 6 to 3; sends to Bylaw Committee to draft an amendment for submission to members at the 2013 annual meeting
  • May 2013: Committee presents proposed Legacy Amendment at BOT meeting; Heritage Alliance supporters withdraw their support. BOT votes 5 to 4 to send the bylaw amendment forward for membership action, but the margin falls one vote short of the 2/3 required (6 to 3). The matter is tabled, with no action taken.

After a full year of effort, no positive steps have been taken to bring the community’s membership policies into compliance. Where next? See  AN OPEN LETTER TO FRIENDS OF THE BAY VIEW CHAUTAUQUA

—BV TAX EXEMPT STATUS:  A Heritage Alliance brochure on Tax issues has been distributed to members, claiming that adoption of more inclusive membership policies will jeopardize BV’s tax exempt status. The claims are without merit and are directly contradicted by United Methodist Church officials. According to Board President Larry Ternan, neither that brochure nor its conclusions are sanctioned by the BOT. For a formal statement of UMC tax exempt policy see: Bay View’s Tax Exemption is not Dependent on Membership Requirements,   [The author served as Annual Conference Treasurer for nearly 30 years, was elected to GCFA for 8 years and chaired the denomination’s Audit Committee for 4 years.]

-BOT FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITIES and LEGAL RISKS: A position paper by Arthur I. Anderson, 35-year corporate attorney and Harvard Law School graduate, clarifies the risks to the community and BOT members of a ‘do nothing’ policy.  Though the Becket Fund opinion asserts that BV is not violating Fair Housing laws, long-time Bay View member Anderson’s compelling piece concludes that the opinion is worthless to the BV Board and membership because of the legalese and disclaimers included in the opinion. Click here to access: Thoughts on Inclusiveness by Arthur I. Anderson

Bay view membership policies remain seriously at odds with Christian values, Chautauqua tradition and civil law. Consistent with the intent and vision of our Methodist founders, efforts to remedy this situation will continue. Check this site often for ongoing updates and information. ACCESS A COMPLETE TEXT OF THIS REPORT HERE



—9-7-2012…NEWS FROM THE FOBVC FACEBOOK PAGE: Record ‘Hits’, Hoeksema Diversity Flag Winner, more…

—8-28-2012/REFLECTIONS page: Season of Light and darkness…favorite reader quotes
—8-24-2012/Embarrassed by policies: “Get on with diversity…”;
—8-23-2012…Shared by a reader: “Barriers that were once a mainstay of elite cultural and educational institutions have been demolished. Gone are the quotas that kept Jews out of elite high schools and colleges: inclusion is now the norm.” The New Elitists, by Shamus Khan, NYT 7/8/12, p.6

—8-18-2012—UMC Announces New Northern Michigan Bishop
—8-6-2012…Chautauqua Institution sponsors ecumenical conference to create a “more inclusive, interactive and visible interfaith community”
—8-5-2012…Lakeside Association in Ohio changes its name to Lakeside Chautauqua

The membership by-law amendment proposed by the Trustees is now available under the “Challenge” tab. Scroll down to the “Legal Updates” link. You are invited to share your opinion regarding the proposed amendment by posting a comment. If you are a Bay View member and have forgotten or not obtained the password needed to access this page, please send a request for password using the Contact page on this site. (Scroll down to “Leave a Reply”.)

The Bay View Board of Trustees will be meeting from February 14th to 16th. Among the items on the agenda is the report of the summer 2012 Special Committee on Membership Issues. The BOT has invited concerned individuals to share their reactions to the report in advance of the meeting. A summary of the Report appears in the News item on this web-page dated 10-8-2012; or the full report at BAY VIEW BOT SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MEMBERSHIP REPORT, 2012. Normal practice is for the open BOT session to take place on that final meeting date (Saturday, February 16th, beginning 8:30 AM at the Hilton Garden Inn, Detroit Metro Airport). To contact the Board, email President Larry Ternan at


The Bay View Board of Trustees convened Friday, October 5 at 8:30 AM. Stan Sutton opened with a devotional reflection on peace and grace, setting the tone for board deliberations to follow. For the most part, calm did in fact prevail as trustees discussed the report of the Special Committee on Membership. (Board President Larry Ternan had acted as Board liaison to the Committee, which met in several sessions during June and July this summer. Trustee Bob Docking served as liaison in Ternan’s absence.) Committee Chair Barbara Stonewater—connected by conference call—responded to trustee’s comments and questions.

Summary of Special Committee on Membership Report—
As reported to the Board, work of the nine-member committee resulted in the following recommendations:
1. A recommendation that an Orientation Committee be appointed, as a subcommittee of the Membership Committee, to help ensure that all potential applicants for membership in the Bay View Association learn and understand Bay View’s Christian history, values, and traditions, and its Chautauqua heritage. This committee would conduct a dialogue with each potential applicant, and provide a mentor for each. Further details are given later in the report. This is a strong recommendation to the Board which has committee consensus.
2. A recommendation that a Community (or member) Engagement Committee be created, to help ensure that new members in particular, and in fact all members, understand their commitment to Bay View and to being engaged in some way in its activities and programs. This would involve an intentional welcome for new members and the selection of a sponsor for each, a collection of interests, skills, and talents to be used to involve a broader spectrum of members, and the use of technology to allow more members to stay involved. Again, more details are provided elsewhere in this report. This is a strong recommendation to the Board which has committee consensus.
3. A two-track Membership Application Process under which an applicant could choose either of two paths to membership: Track One would require that the applicant affirm Bay View’s Christian and Chautauqua history and traditions, and also Christian Values, along with providing additional specified letters of recommendation. There would be an as yet undecided limit on the percent of the overall membership that could come in under this track. Track Two would require the applicant to be of Christian persuasion and provide a letter from the pastor of a church of which the applicant is a member or attends, along with additional specified letters of recommendation. (This is the same as the current membership process)  The two-track membership recommendation was adopted by committee consensus. Three members subsequently chose to withdraw their support and have submitted a minority report to the board. The full text of both reports is available on this website.

What’s Next

After considerable discussion, Board President Larry Ternan proposed that, at the mid-winter meeting, the Board adopt one of three alternatives relative to the two-track membership qualification process outlined in the Special Committee report: 1. Do nothing. 2. Propose a By-law change in keeping with the report’s ORIGINAL CONSENSUS recommendation. 3. Propose a By-law change in keeping with the report’s recommendation, but limit application to “legacy” applicants only. A motion to take up these three alternatives at the winter meeting passed six to two, with Glen Stevens and Rob Zetterberg– who actively sought to discredit the committee’s work—opposed. (The definition of “Legacy” was not addressed in the committee report, which neither recommends nor supports a legacy-only solution.)

The Board agreed unanimously that pre- and post- membership process recommendations be immediately moved to the standing Membership Committee for further action. Between now and the mid-winter meeting in February, the board will invite comment from the community relative to the recommendations contained in the Special Committee report.

On September 14, Barbara Stonewater, chair of the BOT-appointed Special Committee on Membership, submitted the committee report to the Board of Trustees. The report reflects the Special Committee’s deliberations over this past summer and makes recommendations for changing Bay View’s membership process. The Board of Trustees are expected to receive and discuss the report at its next meeting, October 5th. This website will continue to share further information about the Committee Report and the Trustees response as it becomes officially available.

Special Committee member, attorney and life-long Bay View resident David Dykhouse, shared several thoughts on where things stand on the Membership issue in Bay View:

First, as to the big picture we need to keep in mind our shared hope and faith that the BV community will emerge from the sturm and drang of the past few summers with more understanding of what is means to live in this special community — loaded with talented people and the consequent range of views. It takes time, but there is a vast middle in BV that patiently sorts things out and eventually emerges with something sensible that allows us all to live together and, in the end, to cherish our diversity. My sense is that this is beginning to happen. We need to encourage it and to reflect patience and good will. After seventy-five years here, I believe we are on the way to a resolution shaped by the moderate middle. We need to cherish this slow process, encourage it, let it work, and stay alert to dangers and threats from the more extreme among us.

[Subscribers to the site will receive an update email when the report is made public. To subscribe and receive regular website update alerts, go to the Subscribe feature on the menu bar or use this hyperlink.]
NEWS FROM THE FOBVC FACEBOOK PAGE: In its first 11 days, the new Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua FACEBOOK page reports a total of 12,935 hits (5,359 unique visitors in the first 9 days alone)…an absolutely amazing number for a new site. Winner of the Bay View Diversity Flag raffle (based on site Likes) is Melanie Hoeksema of Grand Rapids, MI. A lifelong Bay View resident and daughter of former BV President and Board Member Tom Shearer, Melanie and her husband Tim are the parents of two boys, ages 9 and 5. Melanie just started her 19th year of teaching. Congratulations, Melanie, and fly the flag proudly!!
The FOBVC FACEBOOK page is developing all sorts of interesting new features, including a Sunday Forum that last week ran Stephen Guittard’s thought-provoking essay, NUB OF THE PROBLEM, dealing with Bay View’s membership issues. To visit the FOBVC Facebook page, click here:!/pages/Friends-of-the-Bay-View-Chautauqua/275537989217224 (you must be registered on Facebook to have full access.) You can also read Stephen’s essay under Reflections on the Menu bar on this Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua website.

FOBVC FACEBOOK SITE ANNOUNCES NEW SUNDAY FORUM…9-3-2012: The Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua website on Facebook has announced a new Sunday feature that encourages debate on issues important to the future of the Bay View Community. In the world of news, Sunday is the day set aside for digging deeper into the issues of the day — weekly television news shows, multi-section opinion filled newspapers, etc. Here at FOBVC Facebook,” the site editor writes, “we too will use Sunday as a time to dig deeper into what we consider the big issue of the day in Bay View: membership. We kick things off with a thoughtful piece from Stephen Guittard, long time Bay View member and attorney. We encourage you to comment and share this opinion.” The site’s Diversity Flag raffle also is entering its final day. Visit the FOBVC Facebook site for details.!/pages/Friends-of-the-Bay-View-Chautauqua/275537989217224

BV VANDALISM REWARD FUND GROWS TO $2000: A second anonymous donation has been received for the Reward Fund for information leading to an arrest in the case of the recent life-threatening vandalism to the boat belonging to a Bay View leader who has supported the effort toward inclusivity in Bay View’s membership policies. The Reward Fund total now stands at $2000. It was the second incident of vandalism of the boat this summer. Posters are being distributed in Bay View, as well as in the surrounding area. The Emmet County Sheriff’s office is investigating the case. Anyone with possible information should phone the Bay View Administration Office at 231-347-6225.

FRIENDS OF BV CHAUTAUQUA WEBSITE RECORDS 4000 HITS: The first month on the web, the Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua(TM) website has seen encouraging activity—4000 hits and over 2500 visitors. Contributing to the high level of interest has been the new subscription service which automatically sends an email to subscribers every time the content of the website changes such as the addition of a new news story, comment, etc. If you have not yet subscribed, click “Subscribe” on the Menu bar near the top of each page and on the page that appears fill in your email address and click on subscribe.

Also stimulating interest in the site has been the creation of a Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua Facebook page. The page is a wonderful mix of humor, comments about the BV Chautauqua, photos/videos, and useful inks. You can go directly to that page by clicking on the following link: “Like” the page and you are entered in a contest to win a free Bay View diversity flag. The contest ends on September 4th (Tuesday after Labor Day) so visit the Facebook site soon. Do you have a favorite BV sunset photo? While on the page, upload your best shot to add to the glorious display of Little Traverse Bay million dollar sunsets.
Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua[TM] (FOBVC) is now on Facebook (FB). FB allows for easy and spontaneous sharing of photos, short comments and links to other websites of interest. The Share feature allows and encourages readers to let others know about articles of interest both on the website and on the Facebook Home page as well.

“Like” the FOBVC Facebook page and you will be entered to win a Bay View Diversity flag! To be eligible, you must click the “Like” button on the FOBVC Facebook page and Comment on the page or Share the Diversity Flag post located on the page! Like and enter today. A winner will be announced on 9/4. To go directly to our FB page by clicking on the following link (you will need a FB account for this to work):!/pages/Friends-of-the-Bay-View-Chautauqua/275537989217224


$1000 REWARD POSTED RE: BV LEADER BOAT VANDALISM…8-25-1012: An anonymous Bay-Viewite has posted a reward aimed at identifying the perpetrators of the recent vandalism of a boat belonging to a Bay View leader of the movement supporting a more inclusive membership within the Bay View community. Posters are being distributed on campus and e-blasts are going out to the community notifying people of the reward. The posters read:

$1000 reward for information
leading to an arrest
for the recent life-threatening vandalism
to a boat along the Bay View waterfront.
Contact: BV Administration office 231-347-6225

The Emmet County Sheriff is investigating the incident, which could have resulted in life-threatening injury or even a fatality.
BAY VIEW CHAUTAUQUA FAN DESIGNS NEW FLAG—8-22-2012:In an outpouring of Chautauqua fervor, life-long Bay Viewian and product of the Tot Lot and Club program, Jeremy Sheaffer has designed a unique Bay View flag. The community name stands out against a traditional diversity rainbow that takes on the shape of a view of Little Traverse Bay sunset. “Bay View, perhaps contrary to some local and regional perceptions or stereotypes, is quite a diverse community—diverse in thought, diverse in our world views and diverse in faith,” Sheaffer says. He goes on to say, “The point of the flag is to honor and celebrate that diversity, while at the same time acknowledge the fact—while diversity of thought and diversity of world view have always been part and parcel our Chautauqua Bay View heritage—[religious diversity] is not yet represented in our membership.”

“Creating flags is, apparently, in the blood,” Sheaffer says. In an interesting twist, he is related to that famous historic American flag-maker, Betsy Ross. “A great, great, great –give or take another great — aunt,” is how Sheaffer describes it. A limited run now has the flag flying over Bay View. Sheaffer is planning to do a second order of flags sometime around Thanksgiving (holiday gift idea). For more details, contact Sheaffer at

PASTORS BOYCOTT BV LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE…8-19-2012: It was reported at the last Worship and Religious Life Committee meeting that a pastor from southern Michigan sent a letter indicating that he/she would not participate in the annual meeting of the Congregational Leaders Institute, organized by Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary—a yearly gathering on the Bay View campus in August. The pastor expressed “concern that Bay View might be anti-Semitic”. Another pastor at the Institute meetings reported that 5 other potential participants had chosen not to attend because of alleged anti-Semitism.

BV LEADER TARGET OF LIFE-THREATENING VANDALISM AGAIN…8-20-2012: The sailboat of a prominent supporter of inclusiveness membership policies for Bay View was vandalized over the weekend. It is the second time this summer that the boat was attacked. A key component of the rigging was sabotaged sufficiently that the mast fell Saturday night causing considerable damage to the boat itself. Earlier on Saturday, the boat’s owner had embarked on a solo sail in rough seas on Little Traverse Bay. Had the mast fallen at that point, the results could have been life threatening. The incident has been reported to Bay View’s Executive Director and to the Police. [For a legal perspective, see S. Guittard’s commentary on the Members Only Legal Opinions page.]


The membership by-law amendment proposed by the Trustees will soon be found under the “Challenge” tab. Scroll down to the “Legal Opinions” link. You are invited to share your opinion regarding the proposed amendment by posting a comment. If you are a Bay View member and have forgotten or not obtained the password needed to access this page, please send a request for password using the Contact page on this site. (Scroll down to “Leave a Reply”.)

8-18-2012…UMC ANNOUNCES NEW BISHOP FOR NORTHERN MICHIGAN. AKRON, OHIO– The North Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy announced July 19th that Dakotas Area Bishop Deborah Kiesey has been assigned to serve as the resident bishop in the Michigan Area, effective September 1, 2012. Kiesey follows Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, who was assigned to the Illinois Area, which contains the Illinois-Great Rivers Conference. Keaton has served the Michigan Area, which consists of the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences, since 2004.

[Watch video of Kiesey talking about being assigned to the Michigan Area.] She speaks of her appreciation for diversity within the region, music as a personal spiritual discipline and the importance of church vitality and outreach.

        • FROM HER OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY: Kiesey was elected to the episcopacy in 2004 and appointed to the Dakotas Area. Prior to her election, she served three years as superintendent of the Waterloo District in the Iowa Conference. Kiesey served Richland/Ollie UMCs. Washington UMC, Mt. Pleasant UMC, and Iowa City UMC before being selected to serve as a superintendent. She also served as a delegate to General Conference in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and was the first-elected

      • clergy from the Iowa Conference on four occasions. Kiesey attended Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, where she graduated with honors in 1973 with a double major in Religion and Piano Performance. She was named Outstanding Alumna of the Year for Morningside College in 2004. She first felt a calling to the ordained ministry while a student at Boston University School of Theology and earned her Masters of Divinity degree there in 1976. Kiesey was ordained Deacon in 1974 and Elder in 1977. Kiesey is married D. Bradley Kiesey, an attorney from Washington, Iowa. They have two adult sons, Joel and Aaron.

Two gatherings have been scheduled to celebrate the ministry of Bishop Keaton in the Michigan Area. On Saturday, Aug. 25, a reception will take place from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at St. Ignace UMC in St. Ignace, Mich., while on Sunday, Aug. 26, a celebration will be held from 4:00-8:00 p.m. at Redeemer UMC in DeWitt, Mich.

BV ANNUAL MEETING OUTCOME IMPORTANT FOR FUTURE…8-9-2012: Bay View’s Annual Meeting on August 4th saw the re-election of the three incumbents: Current Board President Larry Ternan; Mary Sue Hansen; and current Board Secretary Reverend Stan Sutton. Ternan has played a leadership role in the formation of a Special Committee on Membership Issues this summer. Sutton has been instrumental in strengthening the relationship between the community and the Methodist Church.

A report was also presented at the Annual Meeting on the near completion of the work of the Special Committee on Membership Issues. The committee was charged this summer with coming up with a consensus that would allow Bay View to move forward on membership requirements. The Committee consisted of three representatives recommended by inclusiveness supporters, three opposed to that view and three appointed by the Board president. The Special Committee was chaired by member Barb Stonewater, assisted by Bay View member John Beck, a professional facilitator from Michigan State University. Both were non-voting participants.

Despite initially divided positions, the Special Committee made substantial progress. The committee tackled the application process itself; membership requirements and post-application expectations of and support for new members. Unanimous consensus was achieved on all three issues from all nine members at the final meeting on July 28th.

      • At the heart of the Special Committee’s agreement is the development of two membership tracks. Both tracks affirm support of Bay View’s four Chautauqua pillars. One track parallels the present by-laws. This path includes affirmation of “Christian persuasion”, a letter of recommendation from the pastor or religious leader of the church of which the applicant is a member or attends, plus four other reference letters. A new second track would require an affirmation of basic Christian values common to most religious traditions, a letter from a religious, civic or charitable organization in which the applicant has participated in the last year, plus four general reference letters as currently required. This second track does not require the applicant to have a particular religious belief or membership in a particular religious community. A target was set at 15% of BV’s membership for members joining via the second track—allaying concern that a sudden change in membership rules might alter Bay View’s unique character as a Chautauqua with Methodist roots. Currently the community includes some 880 members. This second track to membership will allow a broadening of the membership requirements to make the community more diverse and inclusive, while avoiding conflict with fair housing laws.

Although consensus was reached during the Committee’s July 28th meeting, shortly after that meeting, the three committee members originally opposed to inclusiveness withdrew their support for the agreement. Currently the Committee Chair is making a final effort to re-establish consensus. Community members at the annual meeting were told that nonetheless a report reflecting the Committee’s unanimous July 28th vote will be submitted to the Board as soon as possible. One possible outcome could be that the BOT will work with the current bylaw committee to draft a new membership bylaw for adoption by the community.

8-6-2012…NEWS ALERT: In June 2012, the Chautauqua Institution Department of Religion [NY] sponsored a two-day interfaith conference “to explore the understanding and practice of love and forgiveness as they impact interfaith relationships and to enable Chautauqua to model the power of love and forgiveness as a practical force in today’s world among individuals and communities.” Funded by the Fetzer Institute, 30 theologians and religious leaders representing all the major world religions participated in panels, gave presentations and chaired dialogue sessions. Goal was “to create a more inclusive, interactive and visible interfaith community at Chautauqua”. For more information about the Department of Religion at Chautauqua Institution, visit A detailed outline of the conference is available in the Chautauqua Institution newsletter.
8-5-2012—LAKESIDE CHANGES NAME: The Board of the former Lakeside Association in Ohio has changed the name of the community officially to “Lakeside Chautauqua”, according to the June 2012 community newsletter. Founded in 1873 as a Methodist retreat, Lakeside is a mile-square community along the shores of Lake Erie. It is made up of 900 cottages and 47 public buildings. Like northern Michigan’s Bay View, Lakeside quickly embraced the emerging Chautauqua movement and its holistic emphasis on education, religion, the cultural arts and recreation. By 1877, the Sunday School training program had expanded into a Four Pillars program characteristic of other communities that make up the so-called Chautauqua Trail. The name change came as the result of an effort to reclaim the community’s roots during which Lakeside leaders visited other Chautauquas and researched the movement itself. Bay View was represented at the recent Chautauqua Network Annual Meeting held at Lakeside.

CLARIFYING BAY VIEW LEGAL OPINIONS…7-26-2012: Recent mis-information has fostered confusion concerning the three legal opinions appearing on the official Bay View website. Here are the facts:

LEGALITY AND RISK:Three Recent Legal Opinions Assess Bay View’s “Christian Persuasion” Membership Requirements with Respect to Property Ownership in Bay View. The Bay View Board of Trustees has posted three legal opinions on the Members section of the Bay View community website,

      • In assessing these opinions, several questions arise:

Are all 3 recent opinions from qualified law firms? Yes… and no.
All three opinions are written by licensed attorneys. However, only two (Plunkett Cooney and NPL&M) come from independent law firms, one retained by the Bay View Board of Trustees, the other by an individual Board member. The third was prepared —not by an independent law firm—but by the Becket Fund, an outside advocacy group engaged by those opposed to correcting Bay View’s restrictive membership practices.
Why did the Board request another opinion after first seeking advice from Plunket Cooney? The Board has not explained its reasons for considering second and third opinions. However, in the face of an unwelcome diagnosis, it is not unusual to seek a second opinion in the hope for a more positive prognosis. Conversely, when a second opinion reinforces the original opinion, decision making can be easier and a path forward more confidently planned.
—Do all 3 opinions acknowledge substantial legal risks to Bay view? Yes.
—Specifically, what risks are addressed in the opinions? All three opinions are narrowly focused on risks associated with Bay View’s non-compliance with Fair Housing laws. Additional legal issues and other serious risks are not addressed.
—-Do the 3 opinions come to similar conclusions? No. Two opinions (Plunkett Cooney and NPL&M) conclude that Bay View is in violation of Federal Fair Housing law and advise removal of “Christian Persuasion” and related language from the Association’s membership requirements. The Becket Fund concludes that Bay View could successfully claim an exemption from Federal Fair Housing Laws and thus survive a challenge to its current restrictive membership practices.
Are the 3 opinions equally credible? No. The Plunkett Cooney and NPL&M opinions, because they were issued by unbiased law firms with an intimate knowledge of Bay View history, governance and membership practices, are both highly credible. The NPL&M opinion gains special importance because it was reviewed and endorsed by Philip R. Moots, chief attorney for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Becket opinion merits less consideration, in light of two serious weaknesses: (1.) It cautions that its opinion applies to federal law only and may not hold under Michigan civil rights law. (2.) Becket’s avowed role as an advocacy group leaves ample room for questioning the objectivity and reliability of its conclusions.

      • Expert legal opinion has determined that Bay View’s restrictive membership practices violate Fair Housing Laws. Associated risks to our community are significant and real.


ATTORNEY GUITTARD CLARIFIES BV LEGAL STATUS—7-24-2012…Bay View resident and Attorney Steve Guittard has written an opinion clarifying the community’s status as a “religious” or “not-for-profit” organization. The bottom line: with all the factors considered, Bay View IS NOT exempt from the Fair Housing laws. Steve’s thought-provoking document is a MUST READ as we go into the August elections and as the Special Membership Committee completes its work. Click-on this link and scroll down to his July 24, 2012 Comment: THE RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION.

BECKET FUND VISIT…7-24-2012: Bill Mumma, President of the Becket Fund, a religious liberty advocacy group, was the guest at a reception held in Evelyn Hall Monday night, July 23rd. The event was sponsored by the Schmuckler family. About 75 Bay View-ites attended. Observers from the Inclusive Steering Committee reported that Mr. Mumma, a former Wall Street banker, spoke about the Fund’s support for religious liberty wherever it appears to be threatened. He expressed his personal opinion that Bay view is not covered by the Fair Housing Act because the First Amendment protection for religious liberty trumps the law. However, he also said that in the case of a conflict among Christians with differing beliefs about membership—as is the case with Bay View—it was up to the community to work this out. He also spoke out for tolerance. Mr. Mumma also met privately with several members of the Bay View Board of Trustees.

BOARD PONDERS LEGAL OPINIONS—The questions raised last summer regarding returning Bay View to its inclusive roots have largely been answered. Both lawyers engaged by the Bay View Board of Trustees, including long-time legal counsel for the United Methodist Church, have clearly stated their views on the legality of Bay View’s religion-based membership requirements. In response to these legal opinions, the Bay View Board of Trustees appointed a Special Committee on Membership Issues to explore alternatives for addressing the membership question. Several meetings were held in late June and early July under the leadership of Bay View member and facilitator John Beck. The entire report on the Inclusiveness campaign, including summaries of the legal opinions, can be found in the “Challenge” section of this website. Use the “Contact” page to request the password for this page, which is restricted to Bay View members only.

PERSPECTIVE: SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MEMBERSHIP— Observers who have attended meetings of the Special Committee on Membership Issues have been reporting on progress made to date. In an initial meeting, representatives were asked to brainstorm what each felt about the current membership requirements. Reactions ranged from “no changes needed” to proposals to eliminate any religious test from applicants wishing to become Bay View members. In subsequent sessions, the Committee was divided into smaller groups to consider a three-stage membership process which includes 1) an educational phase to introduce applicants to Bay View and expectations of future members; 2) the actual requirements and process that the Membership Committee will use to review applications; and 3) an extensive orientation for those granted membership.

Reactions of meeting observers have ranged from cautiously optimistic to more guarded. High praise was given to facilitator John Beck’s skills in leading the sessions. But no concrete recommendations have emerged from the process, leading some to fear that—with no end-date established for meetings–the process represents a delaying tactic designed to stall momentum for necessary change.

PROPERTY ATTACKED—Three members of the Inclusiveness Steering Committee have suffered damage to their personal property from acts of vandalism. One involved life-threatening sabotage—critical sailboat components intentionally disabled to fail under use. Those responsible for the attacks have not been identified.

In another development, it was reported that a member of the standing Membership Committee, which oversees admittance of new Bay View members, has petitioned the Board to cancel the leasehold of an Inclusiveness supporter, effectively revoking the member’s voting and residency rights.

“We decry these assaults on property and person and categorically renounce the use of intimidation in any form to punish dissent or influence community discussion,” said a spokesman for the Inclusiveness Group. “One would expect a similar statement from the opposition leadership, distancing itself from these reprehensible acts. Neither side has anything to gain from an atmosphere taken over by fringe elements.”

In responding to the outbreak of vandalism, Bay View residents have been asked to report all further incidents to John Stakoe, Bay View Executive Director.

INVITATION FOR FEEDBACK—Friends of the Bay View Chautauqua encourage visitors to interact with us as we celebrate this unique historic institution. Use the Leave-a-Reply form at the bottom of most website pages to share your comments, ideas and insights.


6 thoughts on “NEWSLETTER

  1. RE: The article on LEGAL RISKS. Even the Becket Fund representative, at a recent campus meeting, acknowledged that we are dealing with an issue of two Christian beliefs in conflict—one exclusive, the other inclusive. Those of an inclusive persuasion could make a case that their religious freedoms are being violated under the current Membership requirements.

  2. The results of yesterday’s Board of Trustees election should not be taken as a victory, or loss by any members of the Bay View community. Rather, the results should be seen as an indication of the work we have to do, as a community, to mend our differences and find a path to the future of Bay View. In this election we chose to allow the incumbent Board of Trustees to lead that effort as they have since the winter meeting. The Special Committee’s recommended path is a way to heal the divide. Needless to say, it is not what people of either persuasion would do if they could “have it their way”, but it does provide a path forward, one which allows us to better understand how our Chautauqua can grow with a more diverse membership, and at the same time ally the concerns of those who desire the community membership to continue to be more limited. It’s time for all of us to cease the divisive rhetoric and engage the process currently underway with the Special Committee.

  3. Why Bay View mortgages are hard to get.
    Last year, Bob and I decided that we should take advantage of the current downturn in mortgage rates, to lower our mortgage payment – by refinancing our cottage. The current mortgage was with Chase bank at 6.375%; $112,000 still owed ~ having been refinanced through Chase in 2002.

    Last summer, Bob called Chase bank. We went through the entire process of qualification – including a visit by bank personnel. Then came a call from out of the area: They could not issue us another mortgage because the cottage is in a “church related” area. The refinance would have saved us over $200 a month.

    This year, we asked our realtor, Pat Sehr, if any banks are handling Bay View mortgages and were told that there are two local banks offering loans to Bay View properties. Both of these banks hold Bay View mortgages locally – they do not sell them.

    First was First Community Bank; 330 E. Mitchell Street, Petoskey; phone number: 231-348-1800
    We spoke with Matthew who was very helpful and patient- with all of the information we needed. They offer a loan for 15 years, in the 4% bracket, with a five year balloon payback. This means that the borrower must either pay the rest of the loan at that time – or refinance (should that be available).

    Because the Bay View Association has a membership requirement, ( one must be a member to purchase a cottage) we are NOT eligible for any loan that echoes the national loan rates: (July 15, 2012 = 3.56%; now 3.2% – Wall Street Journal) – such as Fannie May/Freddie Mac or any that require a non-discrimination clause (any that are dependent upon government dollars, having thus to meet government non-discrimination laws).

    This is not due to our “Christian Persuasion” wording, but rather to our entire requirement of Membership in the Bay View Association for Bay View cottage purchasers which is viewed as being discriminating.

    Matthew has positive words to say about Bay View, is most willing to talk with anyone and can be reached at the above number.

    The other local bank willing to write a mortgage for a Bay View cottage is: Bank of Northern Michigan; 460 Bay Street, Petoskey, MI. Phone number: 231-487-1765.

    Their mortgage person told us that they offer three levels of loans: a 15 year, a 10 year and a 5 year mortgage, (all in the 4% bracket).

    Both banks charge around $2500 for processing a loan.

    So why were we able to get a mortgage from Chase (who will not now, under any circumstances, write a mortgage for a Bay View property? According to the mortgage officers, back then, no one was paying attention to those restrictions for membership in Bay View- and banks were able to write loans as they chose. The bank crash changed all of that.

    Unfortunately, we have had to decide that it is not worth our while to seek a mortgage to relieve that 6.375% mortgage at this time.

    Jean and Bob Long – Block 28, Lot 6

    • Dear Jean and Bob,

      I think the banks you spoke with lack clear understanding of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae guidelines and may have given you erroneous answers.

      The issue at hand is fee simple ownership versus leasehold. A very long story shortened- leasehold terms must extend 5 years past the maturity of your mortgage. So, if you would desire a 30 year mortgage, your lease in Bay VIew would require at least 35 years remaining.

      Bank crash or not- the guidelines changed pertaining to leaseholds properties in the last few years. Banks have never been able to write loans “as they chose” on loans sold to Freddie or Fannie. Specific guidelines must be followed, which change over time.

      The question is: why can’t leases in Bay View be longer than 15 years?

      Have your bank call the Freddie Mac helpline and ask them for the chapter on leasehold properties in All Regs. Then they can accurately advise you on your options instead of guessing.

  4. Having spent much of my childhood, young adulthood, and mature years in Bay View, I continue to be deeply saddened by the current divisions within the community. I cherish decades of wonderful memories of my Chautuaqua experiences, and sincerely hope both leadership and membership will work toward healing.

    By the time I sold my cottage in 2004 it had become apparent to me that Bay View’s By-Laws were on a collision course with other Chautauquas as well as our U.S. Constitution. My opinions were partially based on experiences the year I served as your representative to the National Chautuaqua Network annual meeting. During a discussion regarding “qualifying for membership” I was embarrased. Given that such a process essentially does not exist at other Chautauquas, my fellow delegates snickered and scoffed at the absurdity of Bay View’s restrictions. Upon returning from that meeting in Maine, I provided the BV Board an objective post-meeting report, but was told it was too detailed and lengthy – needed to be reduced by eliminating much of the detail. That same report was subsequently “lost” in the BVA office which left me questioning the integrity of BVA internal and administrative processes.

    That is all water under the bridge now, but once again I am deeply saddened by current acts of vandalism, and hostage-taking by a vocal minority. Why would anyone want to put the community at risk, incurring both legal and social liabilities? Entitlement, discrimination, and intimidation simply are not part of the true Chautauqua tradition. How did those elements manage to creep into BayView? Love for Bay View and a willingness to destroy Bay View are not compatible! I believe it is past time to move beyond petty personal preferences and protectionism, and get on with diversity, inclusivity, and respect for all human conditions.

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