The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04102

May 4, 2020

Dear friends:

May has arrived, and spring is in the air. Here in Maine, where I live, the forsythias are in bright-yellow bloom, the tulips are just starting to blossom, the trees are popping with buds, and everything is green.

In so many ways, our lives have been upended by this pandemic, so it's encouraging to see the rhythms of the natural world continuing uninterrupted — and even to see the way the planet has responded positively to our forced pause . In the midst of the disruption and the disorientation and the demands of our current reality, we give thanks for green, for new growth, for warmer temperatures that invite us outside, for the beauty of Creation, and for the One who created it all.

In the spirit of green and growth growth, this week and next, we're hosting a couple of really important conversations for people of faith and conscience — conversations that we hope will provoke some deeper thinking about what this all means and where we go from here:

All four of these guests are thoughtful and wise, and I know these conversations will be compelling. I hope you'll want to participate. We've hosted several Zoom meetups like this over the past couple of months ( check out the recordings here) — usually we have 40 or 50 participants, and there's an opportunity for Q&A. More information and registration links are below.

As you continue to serve and lead through this COVID-19 crisis, what are you thinking about? What are you struggling with? What do you wonder? Are there topics you'd like us to explore? We're always looking for feedback and suggestions. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what's on your mind.

If you've participated in one of our Zoom meetups, you'll be receiving a survey in the coming days, asking you to share some feedback. Your responses will be helpful as we think about future programming.

Our mission is to catalyze spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership . As we move through this time of communal upheaval and forced innovation — this time of green and growth — it seems to me that mission has never been more important. Thank you for your support and encouragement, and thank you for all the ways you are leading with love and serving with compassion.
With gratitude and peace,
Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
Let's (Not) Return to Normal
A Zoom meetup for People of Faith & Conscience During COVID-19

Thursday, May 7
2:00-3:15 pm (Eastern) • via Zoom
As days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months, everyone is speculating about when we can "return to normal." 
"Normal" would feel good, wouldn't it? The current reality we are all facing is unsettling — disruptive — disorienting — and in so many ways, demanding. Many of us long to return to the way life was before the Coronavirus upended everything and set us adrift.
But the truth is, there's no going back. We never get to go backward. Life is always about moving forward, into some new reality.
And so the question is, what new reality will we embrace? In what ways do we hope our future will resemble the reality we remember before this pandemic? And in what ways can we acknowledge that business-as-usual wasn't working — certainly not for everyone?
Join Ben Yosua-Davis , Program Advisor for The BTS Center, and Liz Parsons , a member of The BTS Center's Board of Trustees, for a prayerful conversation about the wisdom they are seeing revealed in the midst of this crisis — a rich and wide-ranging conversation exploring some of the things this pandemic is teaching us about the world, about the planet, about broader trends in society, and about the practice of faith. 
Our guests include:
Lessons Learned (so far): COVID-19 Insights to Apply to the Climate Crisis
A Zoom meetup for People of Faith & Conscience During COVID-19

Thursday, May 14
2:00-3:15 pm (Eastern) • via Zoom
Join us for a conversation with one of the editors and one of the feature authors in  Rooted & Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis . We'll be exploring early lessons from COVID-19 and their implications for a faithful and bold response to the broader climate crisis, with a particular focus on how we all are vulnerable, though unequally.
Our guests include:
  • Natasha DeJarnett, PhD, MPH, interim associate director of Program and Partnership Development at the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and adjunct professor at George Washington University
  • Leah Schade, PhD, Lutheran pastor, eco-theologian, author of Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology and the Pulpit, and assistant professor of preaching and worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky
Leah and Natasha explore the connections between planetary health and communal public health in this article,  Faith, Health, and Climate: Finding Connections and Building Bridges , published in November of 2019.
Leah and fellow co-editor of  Rooted & Rising , Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, spotlight the way COVID-19 is poignantly revealing unequal vulnerability, the importance of science, and more, in their article,  6 Lessons Coronavirus Can Teach Us About Climate Change
Come be a part of this emerging conversation, one which is sparking spiritual imagination while honoring enduring wisdom.
Wisdom Revealed in the Midst of Covid-19 
An Intergenerational Conversation between Spiritual Leaders
For many reasons and in many ways, the Covid-19 global pandemic has led to an abundance of individual self-reflection and communal discernment. People are asking: What are the things that this moment has allowed us to drop, which were not serving us well in the first place? And what has emerged as life-giving that we'll want to cling to for years to come?
Recently we brought together two Christian leaders for an intergenerational conversation on the wisdom they're seeing revealed in the midst of this crisis — reflecting especially on the places where faith leaders and faith communities seem to be approaching their deepest vocations. Watch the video of the Zoom meetup recorded on April 23, 2020.
Our guests included:
Rev. Kaji S. Douša , Senior Pastor of the Park Avenue Christian Church in New York City
Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian , Pastor Emeritus of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis
Watch recordings of previous Zoom meetups

Visit this page to check out recordings of all of our recent Zoom meetups, including:
Reports From the Spiritual Frontier Podcast Creativity, Compassion, and the Coronavirus

The BTS Center is teaming up with the podcast  Reports from the Spiritual Frontier  to release a podcast series and other resources to support and equip faith leaders for this particular moment.

We are talking with faith leaders about how to move your communities to a digital space, how to stay spiritually grounded in the midst of the anxiety that swirls around us, and how you can best love your neighbors during this time of social isolation and fear.

Check out the podcast , consisting of short, 15-20-minute conversations with a number of insightful guests discussing ministry during COVID-19 — topics like The 101’s of Digital Community; staying spiritually grounded during COVID-19; The Black Church and COVID-19; Fearlessly Loving Leadership during COVID-19; backyard weddings and other life cycle moments during this pandemic; and meaning-filled funerals during COVID-19.
Faith Leaders Online Prayer Huddle
Wednesday, May 6 (and following Wednesdays)
9:00-9:45 am (Eastern) • via Zoom
In this time of social distancing, fear, and great uncertainty, faith communities are more important than ever, but let’s be honest: this current Coronavirus crisis stresses and stretches faith leaders in unique ways.

Join us for this informal weekly online prayer huddle for faith leaders utilizing the Zoom platform — an opportunity to bring our gratitude and our concerns into a sacred space, among compassionate colleagues, for prayer and mutual support.
The BTS Center | 207.774.5212 | |
Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
Nicole Diroff
Program Director
Kay Ahmed
Office Manager
Thank you for your gift to  The BTS Center , the mission successor to Bangor Theological Seminary. 
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.