Convocation 2021

We Are God's Soil:
Spiritual Leadership in a Climate-Changed World

Occurred on Thursday, September 30 - Friday, October 1

“A cloak of loose, soft material, held to the Earth’s hard surface by gravity, is all that lies between life and lifelessness.”

—Wallace H. Fuller, PhD, soil scientist, 1975

Scientists tell us that soil is the top layer of the earth’s surface, consisting of rock and mineral particles, enriched with decayed organic matter, inhabited by living organisms, aerated with gases, having the capacity to retain water.

Soil by itself does not act — rather it forms the fertile container, the nutrient-rich vessel, the arable ground within which other things can grow.
Soil is both teeming with life and essential for the sustaining of life.
And yet, human beings have exploited earth’s resources and destroyed our common home. Rather than embracing God’s directive to steward the earth — to care for it, to preserve and protect it, to prioritize our fundamental interdependence with all living things and with the earth itself — instead, without much thought, we’ve settled into resource-depleting ways of living that keep us caught in a pernicious cycle of domination, extraction, and consumption.
Climate change is no longer the science community’s prediction for the future. We are living in a climate-changed world — a world that raises provocative questions:
    • How might we grieve the losses of the world we once knew and embrace an abused and broken Mother Earth?
    • How might we rearrange our lives, our priorities, our resources, and our relationships in a climate-changed world?
    • How might faith communities adopt supportive, comforting, and prophetic practices in a climate-changed world?
    • How might congregations welcome the stranger, the displaced, and the migrant in a climate-changed world?
    • What do inclusiveness, justice, and equity look like in a climate-changed world?
    • How will we — spiritual leaders in many different contexts — maintain determination, courage, and empathy in this climate-changed world?

Over the course of two days we gathered for online sessions, and logged off for some intentional, self-guided, offline sessions, returning to digital space for continued learning and reflection. Incorporating music, the arts, and contemplative practice, Convocation 2021 inspired and challenged us to ground our spiritual leadership in the common good and in the sacredness of our planetary home. We enjoyed a blend of online and offline experiences, which weaved together to facilitate learning, nurture respite, and deepen community.

Held annually, continuously since 1905, Convocation is a legacy program of Bangor Theological Seminary, predecessor to The BTS Center. We were delighted to carry on this tradition, 116 years in the making, drawing upon the enduring wisdom of the generations of leaders who have come before us.

During this year’s Convocation, we prayed that God will till the soil — us —and plant seeds for a future that is not our own.

Convocation 2021 Theme Song: The Soil
You asked for it, and we're so happy to deliver!
If you attended Convocation 2021, you'll remember some really sacred moments as our Convocation music leader, Pax Ressler, shared their original song, "The Soil," commissioned by The BTS Center especially for this year's Convocation — "We Are God's Soil: Spiritual Leadership in a Climate-Changed World." 
Several of you have asked for sheet music, and with special thanks to Pax, now it's available — and not only sheet music, but a lead sheet, a lyrics sheet, and an mp3 recording — all free for download here.  
You are welcome to use this song in a congregational setting. We'd be grateful for a nod to The BTS Center and musician Pax Ressler.
Several other Convocation songs written by Pax Ressler, including "Use Me", "Before Me Is Peace", and "I Will Wade", are available at this link on Pax's website — donations appreciated. 

Special Pre-Convocation Event for Alumni of Bangor Theological Seminary

Occurred on Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Participate in Convocation 2021 for CEUs (continuing education units)!

BTS Box for Convocation 2021

We mailed a BTS Box filled with useful materials and delightful surprises meant to enhance the Convocation experience to our participants!