The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04101

March 30, 2021

Dear friends:

Spring is in the air. Even here in Maine, where spring takes its time, the grass is greening, crocuses have pushed their way through the softening earth, the sun is setting later, and the first tentative buds are beginning to appear on winter-bare branches. It's been a long winter, and we are ready for the gifts of spring.

Today, at the strike of noon, I received my first Covid vaccine. As I arrived at the vaccination site, appointment confirmation in hand, took my place in line, worked my way through the well-organized stations for symptoms checks and ID verifications, and finally received a gentle prick that conveyed the miraculous contents of the long-awaited syringe, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude and relief. It's been a long and worrisome year, and we are ready for immunity.

This week, those of us who practice the Christian faith remember Jesus' journey to the cross. We remember betrayal. We remember violence. We remember suffering. We remember death. Our rehearsal of this Holy Week story, while not pleasant or fun, serves as an important precursor to Easter. Without death, there can be no resurrection. Maybe it feels like it's been a long Season of Lent, and we are ready for new life.

Meanwhile, our Jewish kin are celebrating Passover — lighting candles, giving thanks, remembering. Each sacred symbol of the Seder meal is a reminder of bondage, of sacrifice, of bitterness and strife — and of God's desire that those who know the sting of enslavement might experience liberation. Still today, so many struggle under the weight of oppression and bigotry and violence. The journey through suffering is long, and we are ready for justice and compassion.

In this season of longing and anticipation, we hope are ready for one of the programs we're offering this spring: a Book Circle that will explore together All We Can Save, a collection of essays, poems, and artwork illuminating the expertise and insights of dozens of women — scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, wonks, and designers, across generations, geographies, and races — feminist leaders tackling the climate crisis; and From What Is to What If: Practicing Imagination — a six-session community of practice that will draw leaders together to share readings and materials, conversation in group sessions, and a series of practices designed to inspire thinking and stretch imagination. We are ready to welcome you.

Together, guided by faith and united in love; listening to diverse voices of wisdom; drawing upon the gifts of community; and inspired by the vision of human hearts renewed, justice established, and creation restored; we can address the biggest problems our world faces. We aren't there yet, but we are ready, and we press onward together.

With gratitude and hope,
Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
All We Can Save: Book Circle

Four Thursdays in April:
  • April 8, 2021 • 4:00pm-5:30pm (Eastern)
  • April 15, 2021 • 4:00pm-5:00pm (Eastern) 
  • April 22, 2021 • 4:00pm-5:00pm (Eastern) 
  • April 29, 2021 • 4:00pm-5:00pm (Eastern) 

All sessions offered on Zoom

Cost: $20/person covers all four sessions. 

Participation scholarships and book scholarships are available as needed. Contact Aram Mitchell at to request a scholarship.
This April you are invited to join with a community across borders to explore All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. The BTS Center is partnering with Montreal City Mission to host this virtual Book Circle, drawing together our communities in Maine, in Montreal, and beyond.

Together we will engage select portions of the book over the course of four weekly sessions. Each session will be grounded in spiritual curiosity, centered around small-group conversation, and designed to compel hopeful responses to difficult realities.

During these four weeks participants are not required to read the entire book. Our aim is to spark connection with the book as a resource of insight and inspiration for the continual task of weaving active care for the earth into our lives and our work.

About the book:

All We Can Save is a collection of essays, poems, and artwork amplifying feminist voices that help grapple with the existential threats of climate devastation. It highlights a host of women at the forefront of the climate movement who are harnessing truth, courage, and solutions to lead humanity forward. It is candid, insistent, inspiring, and rooted in the conviction that everyone has a part to play. More about the book at: Order the book in advance here.

Book Circle facilitators:

Wendy Evans is Chair of the Board for Montreal City Mission and an ordained minister in The United Church of Canada. She has served in global justice contexts for many years and was a delegate at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2019. Wendy is passionate about the ‘heart work’ of relationship building in the climate justice movement and her favorite place to feel connected is in the forest.

Aram Mitchell is the Director of Partnerships and Formation at The BTS Center. He is a Registered Maine Guide with a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Chicago Theological Seminary. He lives on a little plot of land in Maine with his spouse, two dogs, a cat, and several chickens.

About the host organizations:
Montreal City Mission is a community ministry of the United Church of Canada that has been finding long-term solutions to problems of poverty and social exclusion since 1910. 

“At Montreal City Mission, we are delighted about our promising partnership with The BTS Center, as we join networks and put care of creation at the center of our ministries.”
— Rev. Paula Kline, Director of Montreal City Mission
The BTS Center, based in Portland Maine, develops programs and convenes conversations that catalyze spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership. 
"We at The BTS Center are inspired by the vision of human hearts renewed, justice established, and creation restored. We are so grateful to partner with Montreal City Mission in this way, and we hope you'll join us."
— Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, Executive Director of The BTS Center
From What Is to What If: 
Practicing Imagination

A Six-Session Community of Practice

Tuesday afternoons
4:00-5:30 pm (Eastern)
  • April 20, 2021
  • April 27, 2021
  • May 11, 2021
  • May 25, 2021
  • June 8, 2021
  • June 15, 2021

Program Fee: $20 per person participating as an individual; $10 per person participating as part of teams of 2 or more from one faith community or other organization
“Bringing about the world we want to live in, the world we want to leave to our children is, substantially, the work of the imagination, or what educational reformer John Dewey describes as ‘the ability to look at things as if they could be otherwise’.” 
— Rob Hopkins
Given the realities with which we live today — increasing inequality, climate change, political tensions, and racial uprisings — imagination is urgent and necessary in moving us toward the world we want to leave to our children. Yet it is often difficult to articulate our own yearning and desire for the new in the face of the anxiety, hurdles and potholes on the way to creating something hoped-for. What can help us to unlock our imaginations and unleash our creativity are companions on the journey; practices in community; wisdom from our faith traditions; and questions that evoke new and unexpected paths.
We invite you to join a co-learning community of practice to engage your imagination, to take the journey from acknowledging “what is …” to imagining “what if…” Our time together will draw upon the work of Rob Hopkins, writer, environmental activist, and founder of the Transition movement, and others who inspire moral and ecological imagination, and will be guided by a series of spiritually-based practices. We will support one another in imagining projects or endeavors that will aim to spark the imaginations of others in our communities. 
Meeting together virtually for six 90-minute sessions, we will work around the Imagination Sundial, developed by Rob Hopkins. During these sessions, we will engage in practices intended to build our imagination muscle — like an exercise class for your imagination! On weeks when we are not gathering via Zoom, participants may explore curated writings, podcasts, and other materials as a way of deepening understanding of the concepts and ideas related to opening to new possibilities. Additionally, the facilitators will also offer individual or team coaching as participants consider how to apply these ideas to their own communities.
Do you have a seed of an idea you’ve dreamed that would help build community, start a conversation, even help others unlock their imaginations? How about a tool lending library for that infrequently needed but so helpful equipment? A multigenerational storytelling night? A community garden of raised beds in an unused part of your parking lot? What about a four-season labyrinth that highlights the connections between our seasons and climate change? Or a playful, monthly coffee hour that gives adults a change to play? Or community dinners highlighting the benefits of eating lower on the food chain?  
Through shared readings and materials, conversation in group sessions, and a series of practices designed to inspire thinking and stretch imagination, participants will be led to ask different questions relevant to their own contexts.
During the course of the program, participants will have the opportunity to apply for a generous micro-grant from The BTS Center that would support the manifestation of their idea for unlocking imagination in their congregations / communities.
We look forward to seeing how the experiences of this community of practice help to facilitate new projects or endeavors that encourage the imaginations of the participants’ local communities that will ultimately open up new pathways, new opportunities, and new ideas for renewing human hearts, building community, enlarging justice, and restoring creation.
Materials:  All participants will receive a copy of the book From What is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want by Rob Hopkins. Additional materials will be provided.

Meet the session facilitators:
Rev. Alison Cornish 

“I love this definition of imagination — that imagination represents ‘possibilities other than the actual, times other than the present, and perspectives other than one’s own.’ To make a change from the status quo is possible, but to do so, we need to first hold in our mind and in our heart our longing – the possibility that life could be different. I have become convinced that, in these perilous times, our imagination is a critical lynchpin – the link between memory and vision, between the act of remembering and the act of dreaming.”
— Rev. Alison Cornish
Rev. Maria 

“As a parish pastor in the 21st century, I am acutely aware of the reality that fear and anxiety limit the imagination in communal settings. I wholeheartedly believe, however, that faithful and justice-seeking communities already have the resources they need to expand their imaginations. I’m excited to help facilitate this experiential community of practice as we expand our imaginations and dream about how we might accompany our local communities in doing so, too." 
— Rev. Maria Anderson-Lippert
The BTS Center | 207.774.5212 | |
Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
Kay Ahmed
Office Manager

Lorraine Glowczak
Office Assistant
Nicole Diroff
Program Director
Aram Mitchell
Director of Partnerships & Formation

Ben Yosua-Davis
Director of Applied Research
 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.