The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04101

February 17, 2021

Dear friends,

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a season of reflection and repentance leading up to Easter. On this particular Ash Wednesday, I find myself reflecting on one year ago. My then 6 year old son and I went to our church to walk the labyrinth and receive ashes on our foreheads. We walked quietly and with intention. We walked in community. Then we sat and leaned in. ‘Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.’ On the drive home, I shared with my child how moved I was to share this ritual with him year after year. We could feel in our bones that these ancient rituals have the power to connect us with Christians throughout history and around the world.

Today we hear again, ‘remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.’ The ritual marks us yet again as dirt. The ritual connects us yet again to this planet that gifts us with life. We are still dust. 

I can sense that we are entering a time where the phrase ‘a year ago’ is going to come up often. It will come up as we remember our first encounters with news of the pandemic and our subsequent hunt for hand sanitizer. It will come up as we recall canceling travel plans, setting up zoom accounts, and experiencing new levels of humility as a species.  

Next Wednesday, February 24th in the evening, we’ll be hosting How Long, O Lord?: A Musical Exploration of Lament and Deliverance for Lent’ in partnership with Deus Ex Musica. We hope you’ll join us to hear from a group of contemporary composers who have created new musical interpretations of Psalm 13, drawing meaning for the season of Lent in 2021 from ancient texts that have been sung, prayed and read again and again and again by humans-that-are-dust.

In peace and with love, Nicole
Rev. Nicole Diroff
Program Director - The BTS Center
“How Long, O Lord?” 
A Musical Exploration of Lament and Deliverance for Lent
in partnership with Deus Ex Musica

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 • via Zoom
7:00 – 8:00 pm (Eastern) Listening & Learning
8:00 – 8:30 pm (Eastern, optional) Small Group Discussion
This online session invites participants to dive deeply into the richness, beauty, and mystery of the psalms in a unique and memorable way. Participants will gather to listen to three brand-new musical interpretations of Psalm 13, each written by a contemporary composer representing a different Christian tradition. Prof. Delvyn Case from Wheaton College in Massachusetts will lead a moderated conversation with the composers, exploring how the different musical settings help us experience, understand, and appreciate the depth and subtlety of this powerful psalm of lament and deliverance. The evening will end with an opportunity for conversation in facilitated, online small groups.

This event is an opportunity for faith formation for anyone and everyone, so no musical experience is necessary; all you need to bring are open ears and an open heart! Developed by Deus Ex Musica, an ecumenical organization that promotes sacred music as a resource for learning and spiritual growth, versions of this unique event have been hosted by a variety of churches, seminaries, and organizations, including the national conference of the United Church of Christ, the Parish of St Martin in the Fields (London), Eden Seminary, Boston University School of Theology, and Gordon College.

Leaders include:
A Fireside Chat
with Liz Magill
Pastor, Author, Workshop Leader

Thursday, February 25, 2021
12:15 – 1:00 pm (Eastern) • Online
Join Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, Executive Director of The BTS Center, for a lunchtime Fireside Chat with Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Mae Magill, ordained minister within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), pastor of Ashburnham (Massachusetts) Community Church, and author of Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Growing A Relational Food Ministry, published in 2019 by Upper Room Books. 
Drawing from her experience as co-founder of Worcester Fellowship, an outdoor church reaching adults without homes and people who are at risk of homelessness, Liz advocates for a particular way of organizing church-based food pantries and meal programs. She encourages congregations to move away from the transactional, direct-service model and adopt instead a relational approach that nurtures genuine connection with people who live with food insecurity — a shared ministry.
She writes, "Volunteering is not sufficient for ending poverty. Or homelessness. Or addiction. It certainly does not end oppression, even on a small scale. My Doctor of Ministry project suggested that shared ministry would change the world (and perhaps every doctoral student dreams of that), but it does not. Yet shared ministry did do something that I didn't expect: It created church."
What is church, then? More broadly, what is a community of faith? Join us for this wide-ranging conversation about shared ministry, food, community, and service. Drawing upon her extensive study of church-based food ministries, Liz will offer some insights about how eating and working together, listening deeply to one another, and focusing on authentic relationships can lead to a radically reoriented way of being a community of faith.
Register to join the conversation on Zoom, or catch it as it streams on Facebook Live on The BTS Center page.
The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Mae Magill (Liz) is a writer, pastor, and workshop leader living in Berlin, Massachusetts. She is the author of Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Growing Relational Food Ministries and the founder of Worcester Fellowship, an outdoor church reaching adults without homes. She earned her MDiv in 2002 from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA and her DMin 2017 from Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth,TX. Ordained with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) she works as an Interim Pastor for the United Church of Christ in Massachusetts. Liz loves crafts, music, skiing, travel, and her husband Ken. See more at
The BTS Center | 207.774.5212 | |
Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
Kay Ahmed
Office Manager
Nicole Diroff
Program Director
Aram Mitchell
Director of Partnerships & Formation
 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.