For five years, 2014-2019, Bearings was an online publication of The BTS Center, sharing insights from 21st century ministers — very broadly construed — from across the United States, across Christian denominations, and sometimes outside the Christian tradition. Each monthly issue of Bearings included features on key issues and interests in ministry, commentary from 21st century ministry thought leaders on life at the intersection of church and world, and inspiration from poets, short-fiction writers, musicians, visual artists, and other creative types. Contributors included folks in various aspects of congregational ministry, social justice ministers, community organizers, articulate academics, artists, writers, and others with fresh perspectives on ministry today.
Bearings got its start in September 2014 as The BTS Center’s blog as this fledgling organization was just beginning to take shape — striving to find its own bearings. The memories of Bangor Theological Seminary — our predecessor organization, on whose 200-year legacy we are building — were fresh, and questions of identity, mission, vision, and purpose swirled. Bearings provided a space for deep reflection on the changing religious landscape; a digital platform to amplify fresh, new voices; a little corner of the internet where spiritual imagination and enduring wisdom — innovation and tradition — could collide, sparking new insights and possibilities.
Over the course of five years, we featured 85 different contributors, spanning the country from California to Maine, from Minnesota and Texas, from Washington, D.C. and Georgia, from Hawaii and Rhode Island and Ohio and Florida, and many other places in between. We explored important topics like immigration and gun violence, church planting and new expressions of community, ritual and spiritual practice, homelessness and racial justice, trauma and transformation, social media and the dynamics of change. All along the way, we sought to amplify voices from the margins, rather than from the center; voices less likely to get center stage; compelling voices calling the faith community and the world to reimagination, to reformation, to healing, to hope, to justice.
With gratitude to all our contributors and readers, the final issue of Bearings was published in December 2019. We are happy to make the archives available, though, and we think you'll find here timeless wisdom, provocative questions, and inspiring ideas. Have a look!