Unlocking Possibility
Speaker Series

"If stress, trauma and anxiety are eroding our imaginations precisely
at the time when we need to be our most vitally imaginative, then where do
we find the clues for how to reverse this process?... What if we created the
optimal conditions — where we live, where we work, where we study,
where we pray, where you walk every day — for the imagination to flourish?
What would you do? What would you change?"
— Rob Hopkins, one of our conversation partners on October 19,
from his book From What Is to What If

Every crisis can be an invitation to dream. Even in uncertain moments, we are called to imagine better futures together: for ourselves, for our communities, and for our planet. In this series, we’ll be talking with leading thinker-practitioners about the art and practice of imagination: both how to create wide-open spaces for possibilities that others find impossible and what it looks like when our dreams become reality.
Suggested donation: $10 per event
Register once and select any or all of the four events.

Note: In conjunction with this "Unlocking Imagination" speaker series, we are also offering a Co-Learning Community which will gather in the alternating weeks between each event, for deeper reflection and for integration and application. If you register for the Co-Learning Community, you are automatically registered for all four of these speaker series events, so you do not need to register for these four events separately.
Dates & Speakers

Imagine A New Future
Monday, October 19, 2020
2:00 - 3:15 pm (Eastern)
What does it look like to go from "What is" to "What if?" To shift from constantly reacting to what we don't want, to imagining what we do? Each of us is capable of cultivating our innate capacities for envisioning new futures, and moreover, the future of our planet might depend on our ability to do so as individuals and as societies.

Join us for an aspirational and highly practical conversation with noted author and community activist Rob Hopkins and award-winning poet Dominique Christina to learn the art and practice of imagining new futures together.

Rob Hopkins is a co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network, and the author of several books, including From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want. He presents the podcast series "From What If to What Next" which invites listeners to send in their “what if” questions and then explores how to make them a reality. 

In 2012, Hopkins was voted one of the Independent’s top 100 environmentalists and was on Nesta and the Observer’s list of Britain’s 50 New Radicals. Hopkins has also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought and A Good Read, in the French film phenomenon Demain and its sequel Apres Demain, and has spoken at TEDGlobal and three TEDx events.

An Ashoka Fellow, Hopkins also holds a doctorate degree from the University of Plymouth and has received two honorary doctorates from the University of the West of England and the University of Namur. He is a keen gardener, a founder of New Lion Brewery in Totnes, and a director of Totnes Community Development Society, the group behind Atmos Totnes, an ambitious, community-led development project. He blogs at transitionnetwork.org and robhopkins.net and tweets at @robintransition.
Dominique Christina is an award-winning poet, author, educator, and activist. She holds five national poetry slam titles in four years, including the 2014 & 2012 Women of the World Slam Champion and 2011 National Poetry Slam Champion. Her work is greatly influenced by her family’s legacy in the Civil Rights Movement and by the idea that words make worlds. She is the author of four books. Her third book, This Is Woman’s Work, published by SoundsTrue Publishing, is the radical exploration of 20 archetypal incarnations of womanness and the creative process. Her fourth book, Anarcha Speaks: A History In Poems, won the National Poetry Series award in 2017. She is a writer and actor for the HBO series "High Maintenance" and does branding and marketing for Under Armour.
Suggested donation: $10 per event
Register once and select any or all of the four events.
Imagine A New Democracy 
Thursday, November 5, 2020
7:00 - 8:15 pm (Eastern)

What does it look like to imagine a new way to be community in light of our failing political systems? Our current moment invites us to envision the future we want for our life as a people, not just the one that we fear. It also calls us to craft new hopeful stories for how we can relate to one another in ways that transcend and transform the painful limitations of our current systems. 

Two days after Election Day, take a deep breath and join us to envision new possibilities for democracy in local, national, and global contexts, with acclaimed authors Casper ter Kuile, co-founder of Sacred Design Lab, and co-host of the award-winning podcast, “Harry Potter And the Sacred Text,” and Erica Williams Simon, educator, entrepreneur, and author of You Deserve the Truth, which puts the power of story back into the hands of the people.

Casper ter Kuile is helping to build a world of joyful belonging. In the midst of enormous changes in how we experience community and spirituality, he connects people and co-creates projects that help us live lives of greater connection, meaning, and depth.

He’s the author of The Power of Ritual (HarperOne) and the co-host of the award-winning podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. He’s also a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and founder of startup Sacred Design Lab – a research and design consultancy working to create a culture of belonging and becoming.

Casper holds a Masters of Divinity and Public Policy from Harvard University, and before moving to the U.S. he co-founded Campaign Bootcamp and the UK Youth Climate Coalition, both training and mobilizing young activists.

Casper lives with his husband in Brooklyn, NY.
Erica Williams Simon is an award-winning writer, host, educator and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Sage House, a content and experience company that creates spaces both online and off for compelling conversations, critical questions and shared storytelling. She is also cohost and co-creator of the Rosario Dawson produced talk show The Assembly and is also the host of the popular podcast The Call with Erica.

Previously, Simon worked as the founding Creative Director of Upworthy.com and as a columnist for TIME.com. Before moving to a career in media, she spent nearly a decade in Washington D.C. at the nation’s premier progressive think tank, Center for American Progress, and the country’s oldest civil and human rights coalition, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, developing innovative Millennial engagement programs on key social issues. She has advised on projects with diverse partners ranging from the White House and Rock the Vote to Fortune 500 companies. For her social impact work, Simon was named one of Politico’s Top 50 Politicos to Watch, an NAACP’s 40 under 40, a world Economic Forum Global Shaper, and an Aspen Institute Ideas Fellow.

Her first book, You Deserve the Truth, published by Simon & Schuster in 2019, puts the power of story back into the hands of the people, exploring how to engage with the dominant cultural narratives of our time to build an authentic life worth living. Simon has appeared as a guest and commentator on media outlets including CNN, HBO, MTV, PBS, BET, and more. Her work has also been featured in Harvard Business Review, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, and ESSENCE magazine. A self-proclaimed “armchair theologian” and preacher’s daughter for life, Simon resides in Los Angeles with her high school sweetheart husband, and she serves on the board of ColorofChange.org and NPR’s Generation Listen.
Suggested donation: $10 per event
Register once and select any or all of the four events.
Imagine a New Church
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
4:30 - 5:45 pm (Eastern)

What does it look like to follow Jesus in a post-religious age? In this moment when American Christianity’s institutional decline is accelerating rapidly, we have the opportunity to envision new shapes for spiritual community growing up out of the shadow of the old. 

Join us to imagine the shape of a new church: re-birthed from ancient roots and decoupled from capitalist Christianity with pastor and writer Rev. Emily Scott, founder of Saint Lydia’s Dinner Church in Brooklyn and now pastor of Dreams and Visions in Baltimore; and Dr. Herber Brown, pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore and founder of the Black Church Food Security Network.

Rev. Emily Scott (she/her/hers) is a church planter and author of For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion in a Shattered World, released in Spring, 2020. A Lutheran pastor (ELCA), Emily believes that Christian practice holds out rich possibilities that call us to reach out across boundaries in love, learn through discomfort, and build relationships that bring God’s realm close. Queer and genderqueer, she is committed to building communities of faith that dismantle fear and hate, affirm LGBTQ+ people, and confront racial injustice.

Emily currently serves as pastor of two congregations in unique partnership: St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and Dreams and Visions, in Baltimore. These two congregations, one historic, one just a few years old, are partnering together, sharing a building, pastoral staff, and a commitment to their neighborhood, city, and the LGBTQ+ community. From 2008-2017, Emily served as the founding pastor of St. Lydia’s Dinner Church in Brooklyn, where worship is a full meal, shared around a dinner table. St. Lydia’s sparked a wider Dinner Church movement, and is now a national model for new church starts.

A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Emily received the Alumni Award for Distinction in Congregational Ministry in 2016. She was the Director of Worship at The Riverside Church from 2007-2009, and a co-founder of Music That Makes Community. Her work at St. Lydia’s has been covered by The Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal.
Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, III, Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland is known as a Community Organizer, Social Entrepreneur, Base Builder, and Network Weaver.

For nearly two decades, Dr. Brown has been a catalyst for personal transformation and social change. He is the Founding Director of Orita’s Cross Freedom School, which works to reconnect Black youth to their African heritage while providing them hands-on learning opportunities to spark their creative genius and build vocational skills. In 2015 he launched the Black Church Food Security Network a multi-state alliance of congregations working together to inspire health, wealth and power in the Black Community by partnering with historically African American churches to establish gardens on church-owned land and with African American farmers to create a grassroots, community-led food system.

Dr. Brown is the recipient of numerous awards including the Ella Baker Freedom Fighter Award and The Afro American Newspaper’s “25 Under 40 Emerging Black History Leaders” award. In 2011, Urbanite Magazine identified him as one of the “Change Makers of Baltimore City.” In 2016, Grist.Org named him among innovators, organizers, and visionaries as one of The 50 People You’ll Be Talking About This Year." In 2018, Baltimore Magazine named him a Visionary of the City and the Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights presented him with their Food Justice Award. In 2019, he received the coveted Emerging Leaders Award from the Claneil Foundation, which brought with it a $250,000 investment in the work of the Black Church Food Security Network.
Suggested donation: $10 per event
Register once and select any or all of the four events.
Imagine A New Planet
Monday, November 30, 2020
2:00 - 3:15 pm (Eastern)

What does it look like to imagine a new planet, for good or for ill? If COVID-19 was simply a warmup for the catastrophic effects of a warming planet, what does it look like to urgently imagine an earth-nurturing way for us to live on this, our common home?

Join us to envision a life-sustaining way for all creatures (human and non-human) and the stakes behind our activism with author Bill McKibben, founder of the first global grassroots climate campaign and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, President and Founder of the Hip Hop Caucus.

Bill McKibben is founder and senior adviser emeritus of 350.org. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He’s gone on to write many more books, and his work appears regularly in periodicals from the New Yorker to Rolling Stone. He serves as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has won the Gandhi Peace Prize as well as honorary degrees from 19 colleges and universities. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the alternative Nobel, in the Swedish Parliament. Foreign Policy named him to its inaugural list of the World’s 100 Most Important Global Thinkers.

McKibben helped found 350.org, the first global grassroots climate campaign. He has organized on every continent, including Antarctica, for climate action. He played a leading role in launching the opposition to big oil pipeline projects, and the fossil fuel divestment campaign, which has become the biggest anti-corporate campaign in history, with endowments worth more than $15 trillion stepping back from oil, gas and coal. He stepped down as board chair of 350 in 2015, and left the board and stepped down from his volunteer role as senior adviser in 2020, accepting emeritus status. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors. In 2014, biologists credited his career by naming a new species of woodland gnat—Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. is the President & Founder of Hip Hop Caucus, a minister, community activist, U.S. Air Force veteran, and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life. He entered the world of Hip Hop Politics as the Political and Grassroots Director for the Hip Hop Summit Action Network in 2003 and 2004, and as a key architect of P. Diddy’s “Vote Or Die!” campaign in 2004. 

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he established the award winning Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign where he led a coalition of national and grassroots organizations to advocate for the rights of Katrina survivors. In 2008, he led Hip Hop Caucus’ launch of Respect My Vote!a campaign and coalition that works with Hip Hop artists to engage young people in the electoral process. 

As a national leader and pacemaker within the Green Movement, he works to bridge the gap between communities of color and environmental advocacy. He is a leader in campaigns calling for divestment from fossil fuels causing climate change, increasing diversity in the climate movement, ensuring everyone has clean water and air, and international efforts to address climate change. In 2018, he helped launch Think 100%, Hip Hop Caucus’ award-winning climate communications and activism platform.
Suggested donation: $10 per event
Register once and select any or all of the four events.
The BTS Center | 207.774.5212 | info@thebtscenter.org | www.thebtscenter.org
Allen Ewing-Merrill
Executive Director
Nicole Diroff
Program Director
Kay Ahmed
Office Manager
 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.