The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04102

October 28, 2020

Dear friends:

We are now just days away from this historic election — arguably the most consequential election of our lifetimes. Meanwhile, we're entering Month 8 of a global pandemic that has disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives. It seems like a collective anxiety swirls around us, permeating every conversation, every interaction. There is so much uncertainty about the future — of our country, of our planet, of our day-to-day lives.

In the midst of this uncertainty, The BTS Center seeks "to catalyze spiritual imagination, with enduring wisdom, for transformative faith leadership." It seems to me this is a moment when we need spiritual imagination — when we need enduring wisdom — heaping portions of each. And we need transformative faith leadership. This is a moment that calls out for spiritually grounded, curious and imaginative, wisdom-infused leaders who will point us to the vision of a future where human hearts are renewed, where justice is established and Creation is restored.

This is why I'm so excited about our fall programming. Next week, just two days after the election, we will continue our "Unlocking Possibility" speaker series — a series focused on catalyzing spiritual imagination — as we welcome two brilliant thought leaders, Casper ter Kuile and Erica Williams Simon, who will help us Imagine a New Democracy. Future conversations in this series will invite us to Imagine a New Church, with visionary pastors Rev. Dr. Heber Brown and Rev. Emily Scott; and to Imagine a New Planet, with the ever-wise Bill McKibben and Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. These are going to be great conversations!

And then in a couple of weeks we will begin a five-week Book Retreat focusing on Daniel Wolpert's new book, Creation's Wisdom: Spiritual Practice and Climate Change. Through a combination of discussion, teaching, and contemplative practice, author Dan Wolpert will guide us in exploring the wisdom God reveals to us in Creation itself, inviting us to become ambassadors for a path of healing in this time of climate crisis. In the weeks leading into the holiday season and at the threshold of a new year, this retreat is perfectly timed, and we pray that participants will be strengthened for the challenging journey ahead.

I hope you will check out all the details below and join us for one or all of these opportunities in the days ahead.

There's no question — 2020 has been a challenging year, and it's not over yet. As we move toward Election Day and the fallout that will likely follow; as we anticipate the holiday season, which will be unlike any we've encountered before; as we live with the ongoing challenges that Covid brings our way and pray for healing; as we confront the difficult realities of global climate devastation and pray for the guidance to respond faithfully, let's entrust our worries, our fears, our questions and uncertainties, our hopes and desires — all of it — to the One who created us, who sustains us, who calls us and equips us — the One in whom Imagination and Wisdom reside completely.

Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
Imagine A New Democracy 
Thursday, November 5, 2020
7:00 - 8:15 pm (Eastern)
What does it look like to imagine a new way to be community in light of our failing political systems? Our current moment invites us to envision the future we want for our life as a people, not just the one that we fear. It also calls us to craft new hopeful stories for how we can relate to one another in ways that transcend and transform the painful limitations of our current systems. 

Two days after Election Day, take a deep breath and join us to envision new possibilities for democracy in local, national, and global contexts, with acclaimed authors Casper ter Kuile, co-founder of Sacred Design Lab, and co-host of the award-winning podcast, “Harry Potter And the Sacred Text,” and Erica Williams Simon, educator, entrepreneur, and author of You Deserve the Truth, which puts the power of story back into the hands of the people.
Casper ter Kuile is the author of The Power of Ritual and the co-host of the award-winning podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. He’s also a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and the co-founder of startup Sacred Design Lab – a research and design consultancy working to create a culture of belonging and becoming.

Casper holds a Masters of Divinity and Public Policy from Harvard University, and before moving to the U.S. he co-founded Campaign Bootcamp and the UK Youth Climate Coalition, both training and mobilizing young activists. Casper lives with his husband in Brooklyn, NY.
Erica Williams Simon is a writer, host, educator and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Sage House, a content and experience company that creates spaces for compelling conversations, critical questions, and shared storytelling.

Simon spent nearly a decade in Washington D.C. at the progressive think tank, Center for American Progress, and the country’s oldest civil and human rights coalition, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. A self-proclaimed “armchair theologian,” Simon resides in Los Angeles with her high school sweetheart husband and is on the board of and NPR’s Generation Listen.
Unlocking Possibility Speaker Series

Every crisis can be an invitation to dream. Even in uncertain moments, we are called to imagine better futures together: for ourselves, for our communities, and for our planet. In this series, we’ll be talking with leading thinker-practitioners about the art and practice of imagination: both how to create wide-open spaces for possibilities that others find impossible and what it looks like when our dreams become reality.

Other Upcoming Dates & Speakers
Imagine a New Church
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
4:30 - 5:45 pm (Eastern)

Imagine a New Planet
Monday, November 30, 2020
2:00 - 3:15 pm (Eastern)

Creation's Wisdom Book Retreat
with author and spiritual teacher Daniel Wolpert

Offered by The BTS Center in partnership with MICAH (Minnesota Institute of Contemplation & Healing)

5 sessions on Thursday afternoons from 4:00–5:30 pm (Eastern)
Nov. 12 • Nov. 19 • Dec. 3 • Dec. 10 • Dec. 17

Suggested donation $50. Registration includes a signed* copy of Creation's Wisdom, which will be mailed to your address.

* Books signed by author Rev. Daniel Wolpert will be sent to the first 50 registrants, so register now to get your autographed book!
Using Christian Scripture and theology through the lens of modern science, Creation’s Wisdom explores the concept of the Tibetan Five Wisdoms to address such questions as:

  • What is a Christian spirituality that speaks to the needs of people in an era of climate change?
  • What practices can guide us?
  • What is a helpful perspective?

Author Daniel Wolpert uncovers that the answers lie in the elements of Creation.

This five-week book retreat will explore the nature of Creation’s Wisdom — how God speaks to us through Creation, how we can connect to the wider Creation in holistic and meaningful ways, and how we can become ambassadors for a path of healing in this time of climate crisis. The retreat will utilize a combination of discussion, teaching, and contemplative practice that will strengthen us for the challenging journey ahead.

Gathering in the weeks following our historic election and as we enter into the holiday season — for Christians, a season of spiritual preparation called Advent, and for others a season of anticipation and reflection as one year draws to a close and another approaches — this book retreat will ground us in the ways of Wisdom as we prepare to enter into the new year. How can Wisdom’s call be heard and help lead and guide us in these challenging times?
Rev. Daniel Wolpert

What people are saying about the book:

“Wisdom is essential to human survival. Creation’s Wisdom draws on Hebrew scriptures, the gospel of Jesus, and Tibetan teachings to navigate our strange new world with a spirituality that is embodied, communal, and elemental. When infrastructures are eroding, best get a guide that will prepare you for anything." 

Rev. Dr. Heather Murray Elkins, Hannon Professor of Worship and Preaching, Emerita, Drew University

“Daniel Wolpert brings his immense wisdom to bear on the central crisis on our time: climate change. With clarity and grace he shows that the contemplative spiritual traditions can help us heal the alienation between humanity and the rest of creation. An important, timely book.” 

L. Roger Owens, Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality and Ministry, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
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.