The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04101

January 27, 2021

Dear friends:

As many of you know, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we partnered with the Maine Council of Churches and invited you to join us for an online event called "Committed to Listen: a public reading of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter From a Birmingham Jail." I was fairly confident that at least 100 people would register. I hoped for 200. When the day came, 382 people joined us in the Zoom room, with another 50ish following the Facebook Live feed, totaling 432 people. We've received so many email messages filled with gratitude, including one from a denominational leader who called it "…absolutely one of the most powerful liturgical moments of my adult life."

It is gratifying to hear so many affirming comments about this event — and yet, we know that Dr. King's words resonated so deeply precisely because we have so much work left to do, and because we recognize the ways in which Dr. King's challenge is as relevant today as it was 57 years ago when he issued it. As we heard the letter being read aloud, I kept thinking, Dr. King could have written these words from a jail cell last week. His words sting — and they should — and the question, I think, is how the provocative words of his Letter and the silence that followed our listening to them will compel us into faithful action toward racial justice and equity. No matter how important it is, reading Dr. King's words is not enough. We must go deeper.

We have work to do — especially we who call ourselves people of faith.

Because there is so much work to do — because the work to which God calls us is urgent and important — because the cause of justice and human freedom and the sustainability of the planet continually invite us to go deeper — I am pleased to share that we've added two new members to The BTS Center staff team. I hope you'll take a minute to "meet" Lorraine Glowczak and Aram Mitchell, whose bios are included below. As members of our gifted and passionate team, Lorraine and Aram will help us fulfill our mission: to catalyze spiritual imagination, with enduring wisdom, for transformative faith leadership. Their work — Lorraine assisting with behind-the-scenes administrative tasks and Aram nurturing community partnerships and facilitating formative learning opportunities for faith leaders — will advance The BTS Center's vision: human hearts renewed, justice established, and creation restored. I hope you will join me in welcoming them. (Note: At this link you can meet our entire staff team and Board of Trustees.)

I hope you will also consider joining us for one or both of the upcoming events described in detail below: "Rooted and Rising in Love," a One-Day Retreat with Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas and musician Thew Elliott, coming up on Friday, February 5; and "Unleashing What You Already Love for a Hurting Planet," a Workshop with Peterson Toscano, coming up on Thursday, February 11. Read on for the details and registration links.

Yes, God has work for us to do, and we trust that God leads us and guides us as we embrace that work with faith and hope. We are so glad you — yes, you! — are part of The BTS Center circle! Please join us as we go deeper, following where God beckons.

Peace and joy,
Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director • The BTS Center
We welcome two new members of
The BTS Center Staff Team
Lorraine Glowczak Office Assistant
Originally from the greater Northeast Kansas area, Lorraine Glowczak moved to Maine in 1999 to have “just a short adventure." She fell in love with the state (and eventually a great friend who became her husband) and she ended up making Maine her home.

Since that time, Lorraine has embarked on many other adventures and followed a passion or two. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies and she enjoys supporting individuals, local businesses, and non-profit organizations in their efforts to succeed and meet their missions – including The BTS Center.

Lorraine has explored and participated in many of the world religions and spiritual practices and is surprised that she has landed, at least for a while, in the Lutheran tradition. She is also a published writer, and her personal goal is to write the next “Great American Novel." If that doesn’t happen, she will continue to write anyway.

Lorraine currently lives with her husband, Frank and their Beagle-Lab mix named Zarah near the shores of Highland Lake in Windham.
Aram Mitchell Director of Partnerships and Formation
Aram Mitchell is a Registered Maine Guide and Wilderness First Responder with a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Chicago Theological Seminary. He lives on a little plot of land in Maine with his spouse, two dogs, a cat, and several chickens.
Aram moved to Maine in 2015 to serve as the Executive Director of Renewal in the Wilderness, where he worked for five years planning and facilitating programs designed to help sustain the vocations of care providers, justice workers, and faith leaders. Through his work for Renewal in the Wilderness, Aram connected with The BTS Center in 2016 and has collaborated on a variety of programs since then. Effective February 1, Aram joins The BTS Center team as the Director of Partnerships and Formation. 

Prior to his move to Maine, Aram served as the Congregational Minister for Children (and the child-like) at Claremont United Church of Christ. During his time at Chicago Theological Seminary he worked as a youth advocate and coordinator of The Crib, an emergency overnight shelter for LGBTQ identified youth experiencing homelessness.

He was born in New Brunswick, Canada near the St. John River. He grew up near the White River in Indianapolis, Indiana. And now walks his dogs most days along the Presumpscot River in Falmouth, Maine.
Rooted and Rising in Love:
A One-Day Retreat

with Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas
Friday, February 5, 2021
10:00 am - 3:00 pm (Eastern) • via Zoom

$25 Registration Fee
Scholarships are available by request. Contact Program Director, Rev. Nicole Diroff at
The long, dark days of winter invite us to reflect deeply on our sources of courage and hope. In the face of converging social and ecological crises, what spiritual practices and perspectives will sustain us? As we struggle to protect the web of life and to create a more just society, where do we turn for meaning and strength?
This one-day retreat, held online, will include a mix of presentations, small-group conversations, individual reflection, and free time for contemplative wandering and prayer. Together we will explore a framework for the heart to help us become compassionate, prophetic leaders who can take up the mantle of moral leadership that this decisive moment in history requires.
Retreat Leader

The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Ph.D., is an Episcopal priest, author, retreat leader, and climate activist who serves as Missioner for Creation Care in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ. She has been a lead organizer of many Christian and interfaith events about care for Earth, and she gives spiritual retreats in the U.S.A. and Canada on spiritual resilience and resistance in a time of climate emergency. Her new book, Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (2019), is an anthology of essays co-edited with Leah Schade. Earlier books include Joy of Heaven, to Earth Come DownChrist’s Passion, Our Passions; and Holy Hunger: A Woman’s Journey from Food Addiction to Spiritual Fulfillment. She has been arrested in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, protesting expanded use of fossil fuels. In 2016 she received the Steward of God’s Creation award from The National Religious Coalition on Creation Care. She is a graduate of Stanford (BA, Russian Literature), Harvard (PhD., Comparative Literature), and Episcopal Divinity School (M.Div.). Her Website,, includes blog posts, sermons, and articles. She lives with her family in Northampton, MA.
Retreat Musician

Thew Elliott (he/him) is an educator and musician in Aurora, Illinois (greater Chicago area) working with groups ranging from students to congregations of various faiths to community activists. He trusts the power of song to propel movements and foster human connection, and creates and gathers texts that he hopes will subvert destructive paradigms and bring joy.
Event Partners
Unleashing What You Already Love for a Hurting Planet
A Workshop with Peterson Toscano

Thursday, February 11
2:00 - 4:00 pm (Eastern) • via Zoom

$20 Registration Fee
Scholarships are available by request. Contact Program Director, Rev. Nicole Diroff at
Sometimes when there is a call to action in response to something huge like climate change, we can interpret the urgent plea to mean, “Drop everything you are doing and get on board!” But “everything you are doing” has developed over years — your work, your interests, and your skill set formed out of deeply felt passions and important experience. 

Peterson Toscano has created this workshop to help people better understand their role on our changing planet, while also affirming the passions, interests, and callings they hold dear. In this interactive on-line Zoom workshop, Peterson Toscano, host of Citizens Climate Radio, helps you explore your passions and how they relate to our rapidly changing world. You will find your understanding of yourself deepen as you gain clarity and discernment about the road ahead. Through a mind-expanding time-travel exercise, you will free up your imagination and consider your role on this changing planet. Participants walk away with fresh ideas, feeling affirmed about what they care about most, and with a new sense of purpose.

College students, who can feel overwhelmed by the world's struggles, have found the workshop grounding and clarifying. Clergy and engaged church members see how they could deepen the work they have already started with a new frame and direction. Climate advocates slogging along with the good work of changing energy policy, have discovered ways to make an immediate impact in their own communities. 

What to expect:

  • A mixture of activities: times for individual reflection, extended times in a small group, and large group sharing. 

  • Engaging multimedia presentations about the three sections of the workshop: 
  • Defining our many passions
  • Identifying where our passions are needed today
  • Traveling to the future to discover our past forward 

  • Thought-provoking and heart opening prompts to stir your thinking and imagination

  • A relaxed atmosphere with room to laugh, share, and dream

Since 2016 Peterson has presented his passions workshop in person for universities, faith communities, and climate groups throughout the United States and in Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Norway. During this global pandemic, he has presented his updated Zoom version for Richmond, VA Friends Meeting, Williams College, Citizens Climate Lobby staff retreat, United We Move Virtual Conference, and Watkinson School. 

"Peterson provides a safe environment to imagine the future and explore our passions. His own stories inspire the event.” — Workshop participant
"Peterson Toscano encouraged a group of strangers to reflect, share, and dream. Bravo!” — Workshop participant
"Peterson's timing and pace, along with the combination of activity was terrific!! This is proof of a great presentation...Leave 'em wanting more!” — Workshop participant

"Peterson’s presentation was extremely engaging and exactly what I needed during this pandemic. He talked about climate change in a way I had never seen before and actually made me laugh." 
— Brian, Williams College student
Peterson Toscano
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.