The BTS Center
97 India Street • Portland, ME 04102

June 8, 2020

Dear friends,

Breath. Breathing. Ruach. Wind.

Over the past day and months, I have been acutely aware of my physical capacity to breathe.  To take air in and out of my lungs. One of the things, I tell my six-year-old, our bodies must do to be alive.

  • On a recent hike up a small mountain here in Maine, I breathed deep and commented on how amazing the clean air makes my body feel.

  • In conversation with a colleague with Covid-19, I'm aware she cannot inhale deeply without coughing. 

  • "I can't breathe." The words of George Floyd. The words that have been chanted by so many of diverse backgrounds as they gather for change. 

  • The breathful, windy Holy Spirit that churches around the world and throughout time have embodied on Pentecost, inspiring understanding and action.

I’m asking, "What’s next?"  What's next for the human bodies that populate this planet? What's next for our oceans and atmosphere? What's next for our churches?

I recognize that the past few months have instilled an anticipation of disappointment in me. But I resist it. The Spirit is stirring.

Thank you for being a part of what's next with all of us at The BTS Center.  We look forward to seeing you on Thursday for our Zoom meetup with Paul Nixon and Kenda Creasy Dean, facilitated by Ben Yosua-Davis, focusing on 'The Future of Faith Communities After COVID-19'.

With care,
Rev. Nicole Diroff
Program Director, The BTS Center
The Future of Faith Communities After COVID-19
A Zoom Meetup for Spiritual Leaders
with guests Kenda Creasy Dean and Paul Nixon
Thursday, June 11 • 2:00-3:15 pm (Eastern) • via Zoom
In the midst of transitioning to online worship, providing community care, and wrestling with a thousand other urgent questions, many faith leaders are asking: when will everything finally return to normal?

The truth is, our faith communities will never return to normal. The pandemic and the wave of protests against police violence are generational events that will forever change how we gather; the shape of our ministry and advocacy, and the challenges that each faith community needs to face in order to thrive in a new reality.

If that’s our inescapable reality, then the question is: What will our post-pandemic church look like?

Join us for a frank and hopeful discussion about all the opportunities and challenges that face our pandemic-shaped faith communities with  Kenda Creasy Dean , Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological School, and  Paul Nixon , founder of the Epicenter Group and author of  I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church .
This conversation will be moderated by  Ben Yosua-Davis .

Spiritual Parenting: An Online Idea Swap for Pandemic-Weary Parents
sponsored by The BTS Center
COVID-19 stretches and stresses parents in unique ways. Whether it's juggling the demands of remote learning while working from home, or adjusting to the closure of daycare centers, or processing the grief that our children and teens experience, or attending to the very real social and emotional needs of our children in the midst of the stay-at-home demands — or all of the above! — many parents and families are experiencing this as a particularly challenging time.

Watch this Online Idea Swap, recorded on May 27, 2020. Several panelists — parents and spiritual leaders themselves — reflected on the challenges and opportunities they are experiencing in this moment. We explored how parents are experimenting with faith and identity formation at home, and we considered ideas for grounding ourselves spiritually as parents during this time of physical distancing, communal anxiety, and complex grief.

The conversation was moderated by  Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill  and  Rev. Nicole Diroff  of The BTS Center team.

Panelists included:
  • Rabbi Michael Knopf, rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Richmond, Virginia, father of three young children
  • Rev. Effie McAvoy, pastor of York-Ogunquit United Methodist Church in Maine, and proud mother
  • Rabbi Paul J. Kipnes and Michelle November, MSSW of Calabasas, CA, co-authors of Jewish Spiritual Parenting: Wisdom, Activities, Rituals and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness and parents of three young adult children
Pandemic in Perspective: Lessons in Resilience from the Global South
A Live Podcast Recording & Zoom Meetup for people of faith and conscience
with podcast host Ben Yosua-Davis and guest Rev. Dr. Kapya John Kaoma
We’ve been here before, even if it doesn’t feel like it for many of us in America. 

In this pandemic, as many people encounter for the first time what it looks like to lose control and experience open-ended vulnerability, we can turn to other parts of the world for wisdom as we seek to learn how to be resilient. 
Watch the Zoom meetup, recorded on May 21, 2020 , to hear from one of these wise voices, Rev. Dr. Kapya John Kaoma , rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Waltham, MA. Dr. Kaoma is a native Zambian, Visiting Researcher at the Center for Global Christianity and Mission at Boston University School of Theology, and a prominent human rights activist, who offers us bracingly refreshing insights about how churches across the world have responded to pandemics in the recent past and what the Global South can teach us about being out of control and having to adapt when circumstances change radically.

This Zoom Meetup took the form of a live podcast recording, in collaboration with Reports From the Spiritual Frontier. In this recording you will hear podcast host Ben Yosua-Davis interview Dr. Kaoma about his experiences, followed by some moderated audience Q&A.
Watch recordings of previous Zoom meetups

Visit this page to check out recordings of all of our recent Zoom meetups, including:
Reports From the Spiritual Frontier Podcast 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.

The three most recent podcast episodes include:

Check out the podcast , consisting of (mostly) short, 15-20-minute conversations with insightful guests discussing ministry during COVID-19 — topics like The 101’s of Digital Community; staying spiritually grounded during COVID-19; The Black Church and COVID-19; Fearlessly Loving Leadership during COVID-19; backyard weddings and other life cycle moments during this pandemic; and meaning-filled funerals during COVID-19.
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.