Convocation 2021

We Are God's Soil:
Spiritual Leadership in a Climate-Changed World

October 5, 2021

Dear friends:

This week we are rejoicing and giving thanks for Convocation 2021 — an inspiring, challenging, energizing time of learning, community, and respite that many of us shared last week. Thank you to all who participated in The BTS Center's annual Convocation, a tradition 116 years in the making!

A Convocation participant shared these words of gratitude:

"The Convocation was magnificent from beginning to end. The BTS Center is weaving together so many wonderful, truth-telling, brave people, diverse life experiences, and deepening resources to birth something new and desperately needed by the world, by faith communities, and by us as individuals. Thank you for the imagination of your team, your Board and so many others that is bringing this into being! The theme of 'We Are God's Soil' was brilliant. The music was deeply moving. The boxes were a delight! Thank you so much!"

This week the gratitude is flowing in both directions!

Beginning Wednesday afternoon and continuing through Friday afternoon, we led nine different sessions — seven online and two self-guided offline — with somewhere around 100 different people engaging. 

There were times of singing and ritual, a brilliant keynote speaker, a two-part conversation with four deeply thoughtful conversationalists, a series of “Dig Deeper” breakout sessions, a hilarious and moving evening of Climate Change Theatre Action, special presentations by partners, and profound sharing from scholars and activists and artists and authors and musicians and organizers and spiritual leaders. 

The participants' page is still available here at this link, and we encourage you to make use of it. It contains recordings of all of the sessions, along with Asynchronous Learning Resources, Resources for Contemplative Practice, musician Pax Ressler's Convocation songbook and music resources, bios of our presenters, and additional resources.

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

Convocation 2021 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:

  • Solastalgia: Homesick in a Climate-Changed World on October 12 — an evening of music, poetry, ritual, and conversation introducing the theme of eco-grief that we will be engaging in the coming months
  • Wonder & Wonder on October 15 — a day-long, in-person (outdoor) retreat in Wells, Maine for spiritual leaders
  • a series of online gatherings focusing on the practice of lament, in partnership with The Many, which begins on October 28
  • Stillpoint — an eco-grief prayer cohort, starting November 3

We'll share lots more details about each of these programs in the coming days!

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.

With deep gratitude and burgeoning hope,
Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director • The BTS Center
Convocation 2021 in a few images
Watch the farewell video featuring presenters and partners, below:
Here's what people are saying:

"While I am deeply fearful of what is happening to our beloved earth and the prospects for human beings and other denizens of the planet, mostly I go about my business and ignore the peril as best I can. Convocation put the greatest issue of our time front and center for me, and engaged my deep caring, my anxiety, and my hope. Thank you for this — may I be good soil for the seeds planted, the roots emerging, the promise of growth."

"As someone living in a state so affected by climate change and not hearing the threats and opportunities from the pulpit or local publications, the Convocation was a wide open window of hope. Seeds of my understandings and appreciations have been watered and fertilized amending the soil that I am."

"It connected me to people and a way of thinking that I have not experienced before. The depth of contemplation and meaning was exceptionally good. I plan to share elements with my justice and environmental groups at [my church]."

"I have always felt that climate change was an urgent issue and a spiritual issue, but I did not see my role in it until this conference."

"Convocation 2021 hosted wonderful, knowledgeable speakers; an amazing musician and incredibly skilled staff! It affirmed my intention to discern steps I can take to care better for the earth."

"I was challenged and fed by the conversations, the questions, the music and the drama. And then given the space to process, recognize and honor my grief, and continue going deeper. These 2 days were a much needed gift."

"The speakers were superb and the rhythm of the two days was well balanced between presentations, free time with excellent resources, and time to build connections with concerned participants from all over the country."

"I was profoundly moved at the depth of thinking and reflection that the leaders offered. Climate change work needs this kind of thinking and leadership."

"A spiritual and theological grounding, a radically different frame for considering a faithful response to climate issues. Also a master class in using digital technology to create rich meaningful experiences and genuine community."
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.

The BTS Center | 207.774.5212 | info@thebtscenter.org | www.thebtscenter.org
 Our mission is to catalyze spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership. We offer theologically grounded programs of continuing education and spiritual formation, including workshops and retreats, learning cohorts, public conversations, and projects of applied research.