The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04102

September 5, 2020

Dear friends:

It's been a strange summer — and a hard one, in many ways, as our lives have been so interrupted and so impacted by this global pandemic — and yet, as we enter Labor Day weekend, I find myself thinking, "How did we get here so quickly?"

Labor Day weekend may signal the unofficial conclusion of the summer, but its significance is so much greater than that. Whatever you might be doing this weekend — physically distanced, of course! — I hope you'll also take a few minutes to give thanks for all the accomplishments of the labor movement: things like the weekend, sick leave, health benefits, paid vacations, workers' compensation, living wage laws, and overtime pay. Each of these employment victories was hard won, because justice always is.

Frederick Douglass reminded us, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” (These words are from Douglass' West India Emancipation speech, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” delivered on August 3, 1857 at Canandaigua, New York.)

And Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had it right: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

These are important reminders, especially now. Take a few minutes this weekend or in the days ahead to reflect prayerfully, considering how your faith and conscience are compelling you to action in ways that advance justice, compassion, and equity. Make some new commitments to join in a movement that is bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice.

Summer blessings,
Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director, The BTS Center
During July and August, we hosted three delightful and meaningful online gatherings that drew upon various forms of artistic expression to expand our spiritual imagination as we envision an earth-honoring future:

  • On August 18, we concluded the Summer Arts Series with "A Queer Response to Climate Change — What Would Walt Whitman Do?" with storyteller, performance artist, and scholar Peterson Toscano — learn more and watch the recording here.

All of the recordings are accessible from this page on our website. Feel free to enjoy them and share them with others.
You are invited:
Convocation Reimagined
Grounded Leadership in an Era of Ecological Emergency
September 24-25, 2020
Online + Offline components

We are so excited to invite you to Convocation Reimagined — the 2020 edition of The BTS Center's annual Convocation, for the first time ever in digital space, coming up September 24-25. 

Our theme this year is an important and timely one: "Engaged Hope: Grounded Leadership in an Era of Ecological Emergency." Registration is live, and we hope you will join us!

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 14, we will be mailing a "BTS Box" with supplies and surprises to unwrap along the way, which we hope will enrich the Convocation experience.

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.