Convocation Reimagined
Grounded Leadership in an Era of Ecological Emergency

September 29, 2020

Dear friends:

This week we are rejoicing and giving thanks for two inspiring, challenging, energizing days of learning, community, and respite. Thank you to all who participated in last week's Convocation Reimagined — the 2020 version of The BTS Center's annual Convocation, an event that traces its roots back more than 100 years, but this year, for the first time, gathering in digital space.

A Convocation participant emailed today with these words of gratitude:

"Thank you for a wonderfully nourishing two days. Convocation 2020 allowed me to acknowledge anew my despair for the world and the seriousness of extreme climate change. But it was balanced with so much inspiration, playfulness, body prayers, hopeful imagery and vital examples of active hope. I loved that I didn’t have to miss out on the beauty of two warm autumn days, as you incorporated time for being outdoors. I loved the opportunity to write a poem and reconnect with several friends and meet several new friends. I appreciated your attention to multicultural, multi-faith perspectives. In every way, Convocation 2020 was simply good medicine."

Good medicine, indeed.

As many of you know, we've been planning for Convocation 2020 for a long, long time. Originally it was to have been an in-person gathering in May at Maple Hill Farm Conference Center in Hallowell, Maine. Then when it became clear that Covid-19 would prevent us from gathering in May, we postponed to September. And finally we moved the gathering online.

Now, in retrospect, we are grateful for the opportunity to experiment with a new format, which allowed us to try some new things and to welcome a more geographically diverse group of registrants.

Here are a few pieces of data worth celebrating:
  • About 140 people participated
  • Participants logged in from 25 states
  • We organized 8 sessions: 6 online and 2 self-guided offline
  • We offered 8 different contemplative practice mini-retreats
  • We featured 12 different speakers, presenters, leaders, and musicians, plus the four of us from The BTS Center staff team serving as hosts
  • We mailed out 141 BTS Boxes containing a total of 1,128 items — supplies and surprises that we opened at different points throughout the two days
  • We drew names for 14 special give-aways, including books, posters, a membership to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and a National Parks pass — congratulations to the 14 lucky winners!

An evaluation survey went out this afternoon to all who participated in Convocation. We would appreciate responses by Friday evening, so if you participated, please take a few moments to complete the survey in the coming days. From those who respond, we'll draw an additional name for another National Parks pass.

The participants' page is still available for all who registered, accessible from the main Convocation page on our website. It contains recordings of all of the sessions, along with learning materials from each of our four eco-innovators, self-guided Trailside Spiritual Practices videos with Aram Mitchell, Thew Elliott's Convocation Reimagined Song Book, and additional resources.

Here are links to several videos that we shared during Convocation:

Convocation 2020 may have come and gone, but without missing a beat, we are jumping into full swing in our planning for some exciting fall programming that you'll be hearing about soon, including a Creation's Wisdom Book Retreat with author Rev. Daniel Wolpert, an "Unlocking Possibility" speakers series, and a co-learning community focusing on catalyzing spiritual imagination — lots more details coming soon!

Thank you for coming alongside The BTS Center as we strive toward the vision of human hearts renewed, justice established, and creation restored. We are grateful for you, our supporters and friends, and we hope our paths will cross again soon.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom,
Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
Convocation 2020 in a few images

Top row from top left: Rev. Nicole Diroff, Program Director at The BTS Center; Rob Shetterly, visual artist from the Americans Who Tell the Truth project; Opening candle-lighting ritual; Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, Executive Director at The BTS Center. Bottom row from left: Sherri Mitchell – Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset, Thursday opening keynote speaker; Myles Bullen, poet and teaching artist who shared with us on Friday night
Watch the farewell video below:
Here's what people are saying:

“I thoroughly enjoyed Convocation, not just for its content, but the creativity with which you successfully created community and kept us engaged.”

“Somehow you pulled together a gathering that felt alive and real, full of variety and connectedness. I know I will go back to review the notes I took from the speakers, but truly it was not only the content that fed me — it was the atmosphere that you folks created, including music and laughter and silence and so much more.”

“Thanks so much to all the organizers for putting on this festival of spiritual leaders well connected with walking or work on the earth. It’s so good to be a part of such a large number of people of faith who understand the science of species loss and climate change, with a grounding in love of the earth and earth care.”

“The boxes are a delightful way of reaching through Zoom to share something physical with each other. Brilliant, and so nurturing.”

“Thank you for the CONTENT! Realistic and uplifting at the same time, which isn't easy to pull off these days. Inspired, I'd say. I am loving this. Thank you so much.”

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I did not expect to feel so filled up with positive feelings of Hope and Gifts (of all kinds!) and Faith! Thank you to everyone for making this event happen and for your energy and care that was evident throughout.”
Convocation is an annual gathering sponsored by The BTS Center, the missional successor to the former Bangor Theological Seminary. With roots dating back to 1814, The BTS Center exists today to catalyze spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership.

This event was offered in partnership with the Maine Council of Churches, the Maine Conference United Church of Christ, and Renewal in the Wilderness.
The BTS Center | 207.774.5212 | info@thebtscenter.org | www.thebtscenter.org
Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
Nicole Diroff
Program Director
Kay Ahmed
Office Manager
 Our mission is to catalyze spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership.
We equip and support faith leaders for theologically grounded and effective 21st-century ministries.