The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04101
July 13, 2021
If you've spent any time at all with The BTS Center, you've probably heard me recite our mission statement: to catalyze spiritual imagination, with enduring wisdom, for transformative faith leadership. We reflect a lot on these three phrases — catalyze spiritual imagination... enduring wisdom... transformative faith leadership. These are at the heart of the work we are doing in the world: offering theologically grounded programs of continuing education and spiritual formation, including workshops and retreats, learning cohorts, public conversations, and projects of applied research.
Inspired by the vision of human hearts renewed, justice established, and creation restored, we are focusing much of our programmatic attention on exploring with faith leaders — not only clergy, but also dedicated laypersons, nonprofit leaders, chaplains, spiritual directors, students, university and seminary faculty, and denominational executives — the knowledge, skills, mindsets, and practices that are needed for effective and faithful ministry in this moment marked by the dual urgencies of a changing religious landscape and a global climate crisis.
Today I'm excited to tell you about a new project of applied research that is taking shape.
How would organizations act differently today
if they embodied an ecological imagination?
We believe that climate devastation is not merely a problem for scientists and activists, but a symptom of the foundational cultural and spiritual structures of our society. If systems like consumer capitalism, industrial modernity, and colonial domination are the root causes of our current crisis, then every organization has something important to offer in this moment.
We are gathering organizational partners who share our hope for a new way of embodying the best version of ourselves in response to our planet’s deep need, and who reflect the earth’s wisdom in their day-to-day life and work. This wisdom emerges in almost every part of human society: from neighborhood associations to theater companies, from retreat centers to co-op grocery stores, from local farmsteads to political action groups, and a whole host of others in between — even as that wisdom is also frequently unnamed and devalued.
We are drawing together a cohort of leaders who will hold both this question and a yearning for a better future for our organizations and our planet. Together we will enter into deep dialogue about this pivotal moment, engage with the writers and activists who can offer us much-needed wisdom, and create shared space to imagine new possibilities for our life and work going forward. We expect this community will represent diverse sectors — business, education, religion, and culture and arts, for example — shaped by the common geography of northern New England.
Starting this fall, over the course of 14 months, this facilitated co-learning community will gather with BTS Center leadership with the intention that organizations will emerge with a greater clarity about how an ecological imagination can inform their life and work and help them engage with the broader questions that this moment is asking us.
We look forward to convening this Research Collaborative cohort and to the discussions that will follow as each of us brings a willingness to consider holistically the implications of this question for ourselves and our organizations, and to work intentionally and strategically to apply what we have learned to our organizational settings. Especially, we look forward to applying learnings in our ongoing work with faith leaders and faith communities as we continue to focus our programming at the critically important intersection of spiritual leadership and climate devastation.
I want to introduce you to the gifted team of leaders who will be guiding this Research Collaborative. Meet them below!