Conversation Circle
Chaplaincy and the Environment

June - December 2023 • Online

This first round of Conversation Circles will welcome 8 - 12 participants, free of charge and selected by application.
Although the 2023 Chaplaincy Conversation Circles are now closed, we invite you to join one of our 2024 Chaplaincy Conversation Circles, which begin in February. Click the link below for more information and to register. 

The BTS Center, in collaboration with the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, is creating an opportunity for chaplains committed to working at the intersection of the environment, climate change, and spiritual care to be in ongoing conversation with one another, sharing experiences, offering support, and seeking inspiration for their ongoing work. 

This Conversation Circle is open to chaplains who are seeking to engage with one another about the work of spiritual care in a supportive environment. We intend this group to offer support for personal well-being and community-building in the midst of multiple, and intersecting, challenging realities in today’s world. 

For this inaugural session of Conversation Circles, participants will be chosen based on a number of factors in order to create a group reflecting demographic and sector diversity. 

The Conversation Circle, comprised of participants from diverse settings and two trained chaplain facilitators, will meet 12 times over the course of 6 months. Each session will be 75 minutes, and will be offered on the Zoom video-conferencing platform.

Meet Our Facilitators

The Rev. Alison Cornish serves as a Program Consultant at the BTS Center. A Unitarian Universalist minister, Alison attended Andover Newton Theological Seminary in response to a felt sense of call directly from Earth to address what is it that we are doing in our daily lives and habits that is destroying the planet that we inhabit. Following CPE, field education in interfaith work and parish ministry, and ordination, and while serving congregations on Long Island, Alison also embarked on studies with the Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy and Dominican sister Miriam McGillis of Genesis Farm, and became a GreenFaith Fellow. She served as Senior Director of Programs at Partners for Sacred Places, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, and Director of Seminary and Congregational Initiatives at Interfaith Philadelphia. Alison's facilitation work includes offerings of the Work That Reconnects, training trainers for Civil Conversations, group practice of Nonviolent Communication, and teaching the curriculum "Healthy Congregations." As a Program Consultant for the BTS Center, her work is focused on ecological and climate grief, religious imagination, and chaplaincy in a climate-changed world. Alison lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, on the unceded lands of the Nipmuc peoples, in the watershed of the Connecticut River.


Gabrielle Gelderman is a hospital and movement chaplain based on Treaty 6 territory in amiswaciwaskahikan / Edmonton, AB, Canada. Raised in a tight-knit setter community of Dutch Christian Reformed farmers, and a family of avid hikers, growing up, Gabrielle encountered God in the surrounding fields, mountains, and lakes of Alberta. 
As a young adult, Gabrielle spent as much time outside as possible, working as a trip guide, park interpreter, and environmental educator. Her love of the land also led her in 2017 to become a co-founder and organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton, a grassroots, volunteer-led organization working for environmental, economic, and racial justice. 
Eventually, Gabrielle decided to return to school to become a chaplain. In 2021, she completed her 2nd CPE unit and graduated with her MTS, writing her thesis on group healing and climate grief in young climate organizers. Since then, Gabrielle has offered 1:1 spiritual direction and facilitated regular, drop-in grief circles on the topic of climate and political grief. 
In addition to her formal CPE chaplaincy training and her Master of Theological Studies, Gabrielle has training in the contemplative Christian tradition through The Living School, in the embodied healing tradition through Somatic Experiencing, and in movement chaplaincy through the Faith Matters Network. 
She is excited about the emerging field of environmental chaplaincy and thrilled to support and learn from others doing similar work. You can learn more about Gabrielle's work on her website, and on her Instagram at @theclimatechaplain. 

Meet Chaplaincy Innovation Lab

The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab (CIL), based at Brandeis University, launched in October 2018 to bring chaplains, theological educators, clinical educators and social scientists into conversation about the work of chaplaincy and spiritual care. As religious and spiritual life continues to change, the CIL sparks practical innovations that enable chaplains to nurture the spirits of those they serve and reduce human suffering.

Meet The BTS Center

The BTS Center logo with colorful globe and blue solid backingWith roots dating back to 1814, The BTS Center is a private foundation in Portland, Maine, building on the legacy of the former Bangor Theological Seminary. Today The BTS Center seeks to catalyze spiritual imagination, with enduring wisdom, for transformative faith leadership. Guided by the vision of human hearts renewed, justice established, and creation restored, The BTS Center offers theologically grounded workshops and retreats, learning cohorts, courses, public conversations, and projects of applied research, all focused around spiritual leadership for a climate-changed world.