The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04101
April 27, 2021
Living a life of good faith in the world today is a dynamic process that requires the agility of spiritual imagination and the steadiness of enduring wisdom. Faith leadership in this context is about more than delivering religious aphorisms from a pulpit that satiate the appetites of individual consumers. Religion that ends with individual salvation is stunted. Spiritual pursuit has to be rooted in something more.
A quarter of a century ago, ethicist Larry Rasmussen wrote, “[A]ll religious and moral impulses of whatever sort must now be matters of unqualified earthbound loyalty and care. Faith is fidelity to earth and full participation in its ecstasy and agony.” That’s even more true today.
That does not mean that every one of us has to evolve the capacity to hold and heal every earthly ill. We couldn’t do that even if we wanted to. Full participation in the ecstasy and agony of earth means that we have to recognize that we are each part of an integral whole. As a whole we share one body, one home, one opportunity to participate in the human experience. Sometimes that feels so right and so good. And sometimes it is the worst imaginable world, where the greed and apathy of a few can shadow over the vitality, the very livelihood, of the many. That is the nature of our ecological, existential condition.
In her collection of essays, A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde wrote: “My days are a thirsty atonal combination of the mundane and the apocalyptic.” I resonate. That intersection between day-to-day matters and earth-shattering revelations feels particularly pronounced as we strive to navigate the weight of many injustices with some semblance of simple resolve and composure.
That’s the context that faith leaders are navigating.
Faith leaders today have to make ample room to celebrate being alive, while also holding space for earth-sized experiences of grief. They need to continuously dismantle despair with organized expressions of hope. They have to gather all the efforts, personalities, and peculiarities of their community around a shared commitment to the common good. And wrestle with budgets. And tenderly sidestep power struggles. And take out the trash, and remember to recycle. It’s good work, and it’s hard work.
To do this well our faith leaders need opportunities to be continuously baptized in new waves of religious creativity, and to be firmly planted in the soil of professional solidarity.
That region—where waves of creativity wash up to the soil of solidarity—is where we hope to contribute with a new collection of resources for faith leaders navigating ministry in the world today. We are calling this collection the Leadership Commons.
The Leadership Commons is a space where we are developing new content, and gathering materials adapted from past programs, to help equip faith leaders in the work of guiding communities of spiritual practice through the uncertainties of life on a changing planet.
We aim to make the Leadership Commons as dynamic as our changing planet requires. You can see what we’ve curated so far by clicking here, and please check back again as we endeavor to add more resources, create opportunities to build mutual relationships, and make our way together as ministers of good faith.
We invite you to share your feedback, learnings, and success stories along the way. And don’t hesitate to reach out if we can support you in imagining how to facilitate an experience in your context using materials from the Leadership Commons.
For those of you who are committed to leading in transformative ways, we want you to know: You are not alone. Thank you for the work you are doing. We are with you!