Convocation Reimagined
Grounded Leadership in an Era of Ecological Emergency
September 24-25, 2020
Online + Offline components

We are looking forward to Convocation Reimagined, the 2020 edition of The BTS Center's annual Convocation, for the first time ever in digital space, now just a week away!

As you've probably noted, our theme for this year's Convocation — "Engaged Hope: Grounded Leadership in an Era of Ecological Emergency" — will invite us to acknowledge and reflect on the realities of global climate devastation, giving thought to how this might inform and transform our leadership, ministry, and service in and beyond communities of faith.

Today we want to tell you about one particular component of this year's Convocation, which we're calling Contemplative Practice Mini-Retreats. These are on the schedule for Friday, September 25 during the 12:30 pm (Eastern) session. Descriptions of the eight offerings are listed below, along with links to the bios for each of these leaders. If you have registered for Convocation already, you will have received an email from Rev. Nicole Diroff, our Program Director, inviting you to register in advance for one of these.

Do any of these look enticing? Inspiring? Challenging? If so, there's only one way to be included, and that is to register for Convocation!

Because we are mailing boxes of supplies and surprises to participants, we are requesting registrations by this Sunday, September 20. If you're planning to join us, please don't delay!

Contemplative Practice Mini-Retreats
Haiku and Haiga 

Haiku and Haiga will frame this contemplative practice mini-retreat. Haiku is a “word picture and meditation” in the traditional Japanese form of 17 syllables. Contemporary Haiga amplifies the Haiku text with a harmonizing digital photo. After quieting and becoming attuned to our surroundings, you will be guided to collect words that convey your sensual engagement in nature, from which you will create a Haiku. Eventually, you may choose to take a photo to complement your word picture. There will be reflective questions and opportunities to share if you wish.
The Art of Paying Attention 

Paying attention is the ability to be mindful, to practice a posture of intentional listening to our inner selves as well as to those around us. Doing so helps us to learn and understand even the unverbalized crucial messages that are constantly signaled from all around us. It is in paying attention that we realize the enormous contribution of other creatures and the earth itself to our wellbeing, and our responsibility to foster life. During this session, we'll be sharing stories about the blessings that come from paying attention.
Thinking about Courage 

William Sloane Coffin said, "Without Courage there are no other virtues." We will explore what that means and the distinction between moral and physical courage. We will discuss the role of courage in a democratic society, where we see it today and where we don't, and how one can learn to be more courageous.
Islam & Environmentalism 

Over 1400 years ago, environmentalism was already embedded in the religion of Islam and practiced by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). God tells us in the Qur’an: It is He who has made you successors upon the earth (35:39). We will learn about what the role of successors means and how the Prophet (peace be upon him) implemented and honored this role throughout his life.
Befriending Wildness 

During this mini-retreat we'll prime our thoughts by exploring some of the meanings behind the idea of wilderness. Then we'll consider: What does it take to steward regular rhythms of relationship with wild nature? With that question in mind we'll put together a simple (though not necessarily easy) plan for engaging the wild encounters that sustain our work in the world.
Whole-Body Listening 

We’ll explore together how intentional breathing and simple chant can help us increase connection and make us available for deeper forms of listening—not just TO each other, but FOR each other.
Quaker Worship 

In a world of noise and distraction, where cultural expectations to be conversant, in charge, trying to impress, and always-doing run rampant, simple silence can be a balm. Sitting in silence with others can be a radical act. In this session we'll experiment with traditional Quaker worship; we will gather and wait, expectantly, for the Holy Spirit to come among us. This manner of worship "in spirit and truth" arose in the religious cacophony of 1640's England, and has been the central communal practice for the "renewing of your mind" in the Quaker tradition ever since.
Earthly Blessings: Practices of a Celtic Pilgrim 

Well-grounded resources for personal and community practice from the Celts, some of the original practitioners of “Green Christianity.” Explore this rich, earthy, creative spiritual tradition with a pastured pastor who keeps the Celtic seasons on her family farm.
Convocation grows from roots dating back more than 100 years — a highlight of the year for our predecessor, Bangor Theological Seminary, since 1905, and still today a highlight! — but this year, following public health guidance, we’re moving online. Over the course of two days in September, we’ll gather for online sessions, and we’ll log off for some intentional, self-guided, offline sessions, returning to digital space for continued learning and reflection. We look forward to this blend of online and offline experiences, which will weave together to facilitate learning, nurture respite, and deepen community.
Convocation 2020 invites spiritual leaders, faith communities, and change-makers to embrace a transformative response to the current climate crisis. If anything, COVID-19 has revealed even more clearly the ways in which “business as usual” threatens the sustainability of the planet and the health and well-being of all life. This global pandemic and the broader challenges of global climate devastation call for spiritually grounded leaders who adopt an intentional, embodied practice of hope — leaders who dismiss the paths of denial and despair and choose to live in a state of active engagement. This kind of hope is deeper than passive optimism — it is a way of being in the world, rooted in faith, expressed in action, and sustained by contemplative practice.
A gifted line-up of presenters — ecological innovators, spiritual guides, and ministry practitioners — will confront the flawed values of Western culture that prioritize individualism, consumerism, and unrestrained growth, while calling us to just and sustainable practices that protect the common good and honor the sacredness of our planetary home. Incorporating music, the arts, and contemplative practice, Convocation Reimagined will lead participants to a deeper, more spiritually grounded engagement with God’s Creation.

Plans are coming together for a really meaningful gathering — a mixture of online and offline components that we hope will be intellectually stimulating, spiritually enriching, and community-building. We hope you will set aside both days — see the schedule here — and plan to participate fully.

And to add to the fun, for all who register by September 20 (until we run out!), we will be mailing a "BTS Box" with supplies and surprises to unwrap along the way, which we hope will enrich the Convocation experience. (Note: We have supplies for 150 boxes, and we are approaching that number!)

Please help us spread the word by forwarding this message to a friend, a family member, or a colleague who might be interested. And please register today!
Feel free to be in touch with Kay Ahmed, Office Manager:
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 is 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 | |
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.