In the Beginning…

Bay View was founded in 1875 by Michigan Methodists as a camp meeting “for intellectual and scientific culture and the promotion of the cause of religion and morality.” At its organizational meeting, officers were elected and Articles of Association were adopted under a general law of the State of Michigan. The pastor of the Methodist Church in Petoskey served as the first liaison agent for the committee.

Although conceived by Methodist clergy and laity, promoted by the joint Michigan Methodist conferences, and often sustained at critical moments by Methodist congregations, Bay View has been ecumenical in management and life. From its beginning, we have welcomed persons of any denominational affiliation who have a desire to assist in perpetuating the Association’s principles and purpose.

Begun as a retreat for revival meetings and spiritual refreshment, within the first decade, Bay View expressed its “Methodist concern” for intellectual enlightenment and cultural growth. As a result, by the late 1880’s the Bay View Assembly became a pioneering institution in public education with an ambitious summer university, a Chautauqua series attracting tens of thousands of visitors, and a homestudy program enrolling men and women across the nation. During the same period, the raw territory, where the early “tent city” was built, was transformed into a resort community of such Victorian charm that it has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Throughout its history, Bay View has consistently retained and continued to follow closely the principles of spiritual growth and cultural advancement initiated and steadfastly practiced by its Methodist founders.

Bay View Association, Emmet County, Michigan. Bay View, Michigan, is one of the finest remaining examples of two uniquely American community forms, the Methodist camp meeting and the independent Chautauqua. Designed for the first purpose in 1876 as the country’s only romantically planned campground, and adapted for the second from 1885 to 1915, Bay View constitutes an extraordinarily well executed ideal Victorian community which, because of its continuing corporate existence and the ongoing collective values of its membership, remains in an excellent state of preservation of both form and spirit. Bay View is a major example of American religious, cultural, social, and educational ideals embodied in an artistically shaped community plan.

Our Current Relationship, The Bay View Assembly Program

The relationship to the church can also be seen in the programs of the Association. Among the committees specified in the By-Laws is a Committee on Worship and Religious Life. Members of this committee oversee the religious activities of Bay View, including Sunday morning worship services during the summer Assembly, where outstanding preachers from different denominations are brought to the memorial pulpit in John M. Hall Auditorium. They arrange weekly celebrations of the sacrament of Holy Communion in Crouse Memorial Chapel; a Sunday School program; a youth ministry program; and the weekday “Religion and Life Forum,” which offers persons an opportunity for challenging presentations and serious study of the Bible, theology, philosophy and current issues. They also have an outreach subcommittee that includes the annual CROP walk.

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