The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04102

April 15, 2020

Dear friends:

Maybe you've seen the recent Harvard Business Review piece that's floating around social media. The headline names the truth:    That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.

The author of that piece, Scott Berinato, interviews a scholar of grief, David Kessler , who says, “We’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

That collective grief pervades our congregations, and spiritual leaders are likely experiencing it, too.

Berinato suggests, “If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it.”

In the midst of this pandemic — a 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. In order to remain spiritually and emotionally healthy enough to offer the loving care our congregations need, faith leaders need to stay connected with one another and connected with God, the ground of our being and source of our strength.

This Friday, in partnership with the podcast Reports From the Spiritual Frontier , we are hosting a Zoom meetup called It's Okay to Grieve . I will be facilitating a conversation with two guests, Dr. Terri Daniel and Rev. Dan Wolpert, who will share a bit about the dynamics of grief during COVID-19 and about the role of spiritual caregivers in this particular moment. You can learn more and register at the links below.

We'll also gather this morning at 9 am (Eastern) for our weekly Faith Leaders Online Prayer Huddle — please join us for 45 minutes of prayer and mutual support among compassionate colleagues.

And very soon we'll share all the details about another Zoom meetup coming up next Thursday, April 23, called "Wisdom Revealed in the Midst of Covid19: an Intergenerational Conversation between Spiritual Leaders," with guests Rev. Kaji S. Douša, Senior Pastor of the Park Avenue Christian Church in New York City, and Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian, Pastor Emeritus of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis.

God has important work for us to do in this moment, and I am so grateful for all the ways faith leaders and faith communities are stepping up, exploring new ways to gather and serve, new ways to be loving community for one another, new ways to practice our faith, new ways to respond with compassion and conviction to the wounds of the world. It may feel like a season of forced innovation, and it may feel messy and raw, but you are doing it!

And while you serve, we are here for you. We are praying for you. We are cheering you on. And we want to continue to resource, connect, and support you as you lead God's people through this disruptive, disorienting season.
With gratitude and peace,
Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
It’s Okay to Grieve
A Zoom Meetup for Spiritual Leaders During COVID-19

Friday, April 17, 2020 • 2:00-3:15 pm (Eastern) • via Zoom

Join in a Zoom meetup with other spiritual leaders during which we’ll explore the topic of grief as it relates to this COVID-19 crisis. We'll share conversation with two guests who are thinking deeply about grief and about the role of spiritual caregivers in this particular moment.

Our guests include:
  • Dr. Terri Daniel, CT, CCTP, a hospice and hospital-trained clinical interfaith chaplain, author, and trauma specialist. View biography.
  • Rev. Daniel Wolpert, co-founder and Executive Director of the Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing, Spiritual Director, Presbyterian pastor, and author. View biography.
Faith Leaders Online Prayer Huddle
Wednesday, April 15 (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 Spiritual Practice of Altering Expectations
Watch the recording of last week's Zoom Meet-up for Spiritual Leaders During COVID-19

Watch the recording of the Zoom meetup exploring the spiritual practice of altering expectations . We heard from two guests who are thinking deeply about how we can be more gentle with ourselves and those we care about.

Our guests include:
Reports From the Spiritual Frontier Podcast series: 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 guests like Wendy Hudson , who discusses The 101’s of Digital Community; Dan Wolpert, who shares thoughts about staying spiritually grounded during COVID-19; Dr. Alex Gee on The Black Church and COVID-19; Beth Estock on Fearlessly Loving Leadership during COVID-19; Rabbi Eli Freedman on backyard weddings and other life cycles during this pandemic; Rev. Carolyn Lambert on meaning-filled funerals during COVID-19; Paul Nixon, who asks, What Happens When the Church Gets Kicked Out of the Building?; and Andrea Lingle on parenting during COVID-19.

Subscribe to Reports From the Spiritual Frontier on Apple Podcasts (or wherever else you get your podcasts).
Convocation 2020 
Grounded Leadership in an Era of Ecological Emergency

Postponed to September 24-25 • Hallowell, Maine

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.