Chautauqua returns to Black Mountain's Christmount

Paticipants of last year's Chautauqua event gathered around a peace pole.

Chautauqua, held Oct. 23-27, is coming to Christmount for a second year.

The “Chautauqua Comes to Christmount” conference, directed by Carole Tyler and the Rev. Joanne VerBurg, is modeled after the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York,  founded in 1874 as a training camp for Sunday School teachers.  Since those early years, Chautauqua Institution has grown into an interfaith community dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life through a program that explores the important religious, social and political issues of contemporary times. The institution is meant to stimulate provocative, thoughtful involvement of individuals and families in creative response to issues. It also promotes excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.

This year’s “Chautauqua Comes to Christmount” programs,  based on the theme “Uncommon Ground: Cultivating Justice in Soils of Diversity,” are built upon Chautauqua’s four pillars - worship, education, arts and recreation. The five-day program features a "preacher of the week" and area authors and lecturers versed in the issues of eco-justice, social awareness, and community consciousness.

Chautauqua begins with dinner on Monday, Oct. 23 and will be followed by a ice cream social meet-and-greet that includes introductions and orientation of the week.

Mornings begin with prayers for peace around the "Peace Pole" five minutes before breakfast.

Worship begins at 9 a.m., led by the Rev. Dr. Bob Hill, minister emeritus of Community Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Kansas City, Missouri. Hill is also co-chair of MORE2 (Metro Organization for Racial & Economic Equity) and co-chair of the Sunday morning radio call-in talk show, “Religion on the Line,” on KCMO-Talk Radio. He has written or edited 10 books.

Each morning continues with an educational lecture at 10:30 a.m.

On Oct. 24, the Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri, director of Creation Care Alliance of WNC, will lead participants in a United Nations climate simulation on Christmount grounds. On Oct. 25, David Moore, author and archaeology crew supervisor at Warren Wilson College presents “Native Americans in the Mountains.” The presentation on Oct. 26 will be by Dan Pierce, a history professor at UNC Asheville and author of "Corn from a Jar."

Afternoons are devoted to area tours, lectures, hiking, shopping, reading and/or porch-rocking. On Oct. 24, there's a tour of eco-friendly New Belgium Brewery, known for its environmental stewardship of sustainable agriculture and support of clean water. On Oct. 25, the tour is of nearby Hickory Nut Gap Farm, where grass-fed beef are raised. On Oct. 26, local historian and writer David Madden will speak about Rafael Guastavino and his estate near the Christmount entrance. That talk will be followed by a visit to the Guastavino exhibit at the Swannanoa Valley Museum in downtown Black Mountain.

Chautauqua evenings finish each day with a 7 p.m. concert that is open to the public ($15 in advance; $20 at the door). On Oct. 24, the concert is by multi-instrumentalist and composer Aaron Price. Randy Page leads a line dance dance party on Oct. 25. On Oct. 26, folksinger Laura Boosinger and the Midnight Plowboys return to the conference with traditional roots music that includes bluegrass, Americana, old-time, folk and classic early country songs.

“Chautauqua Comes to Christmount” concludes with Friday morning worship service. For more about tickets and cost, call 669-8977 or visit

Christmount, a retreat and conference center of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is off N.C. 9 South at 222 Fern Way, in Black Mountain. 


Laura Boosinger and the Midnight Plowboys will play Oct. 26 at Chautauqua Comes to Christmount.