EcoPreacher Cohort

New Cohort begins in September 2024
Once monthly meetings online via Zoom

As our climate-changed and changing world continues to demand courage, imagination, and resourcefulness, congregations and their leaders have a unique opportunity to offer prophetic voices of possibility. With their skills and community connections, preachers are in a special position to offer spiritual guidance in the quest for understanding, connection, and resilience in a world in need of environmental healing and wholeness.

Following on from a successful EcoPreacher Cohort in 2022-2023, and with the desire to support, educate, and engage preachers in the integration of climate consciousness into their preaching, The BTS Center has partnered with Creation Justice Ministries and Lexington Theological Seminary to offer this year-long cohort of learning, companionship, and exploration that will begin in September 2024.

This cohort will offer monthly sessions to help preachers understand climate change and other environmental justice issues more deeply as spiritual crises that require creative, faith-rooted action. Our intentions for this cohort are:

  • To create a covenanted space for preachers to learn, reflect together, and offer support to one another as they regularly preach in a climate-changed world
  • To create a diverse, respectful, identity-forming ecumenical group that welcomes preachers from lectionary-grounded, non-lectionary-focused, and identity-based communities
  • To offer opportunities for participants to take risks in exploring ecological and eco-justice themes in their preaching, in a safe, mutually-supportive, non-judgmental space
  • To increase engagement with eco-preaching resources, including the EcoPreacher 1-2-3 resources being offered through the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development

Facilitated by Rev. Nicole Diroff of The BTS Center and Derrick Weston of Creation Justice Ministries, with collaborators Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, this cohort will offer an expansive opportunity for connection, creativity, and grounded responses to climate change through the art of preaching.

Research note: EcoPreacher Cohort members will take part in periodic individual and congregational surveys. Select members will also be invited to take part in research-focused interviews and focus group conversations. These surveys and conversations will assess the ways in which participation in the EcoPreacher Cohort is making a tangible difference in the work and lives of its participants and will inform future cohorts as well as influence developments in homiletics and theological education more broadly.

Dates and times for the 2024-2025 Cohort will be available soon.

Meet Our Facilitators

Derrick Weston is a writer, filmmaker, podcaster, speaker, and educator whose most recent work has focused on the intersection of food and faith. He serves as the Theological Education and Training Coordinator for Creation Justice Ministries. Derrick is the co-host of the Food and Faith podcast and producer of Spoon, Spade, and Soul, a podcast highlighting food and land-based ministries in the Episcopal church. Additionally, he is the producer of the short film series "A Wilderness Like Eden" highlighting the work of churches engaged in food justice work. After two decades of being a pastor and community organizer, Derrick is a strong believer in the potential of local congregations to enact change in their communities. Derrick received his B.A. in film studies from the University of Pittsburgh and his Masters of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He also has a certification in health ministry from Wesleyan Theological Seminary and was a part of the Re:Generate fellowship on food, faith, and ecology through Wake Forest Divinity School. Derrick is the co-author of the book The Just Kitchen: Invitations to Sustainability, Cooking, Connection, and Celebration and has written numerous articles for several publications. He and his wife Shannon have four children and live outside of Baltimore, Maryland.

Rev. Nicole Diroff is ordained in the United Church of Christ and serves as Program Director at The BTS Center, where she coordinates the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the Center’s programmatic offerings. She holds expertise in facilitation, data management, and strategic planning. Nicole is a certified Maine Master Naturalist, serves as Chair of the Spiritual Formation Committee at Williston-Immanuel United Church and Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Committee for the Scarborough Public School District. She lives with her family in Scarborough, Maine.

Prior to her work with The BTS Center, Nicole served as the Associate Director at Interfaith Philadelphia, where she coordinated the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia and directed the creation and expansion of the organization’s many Dare to Understand initiatives.

Nicole is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and Ohio Wesleyan University. When she’s not leading programs or facilitating meetings, she can be found exploring tide pools with her son, hiking with her dogs, or reading a memoir at a local coffee shop.

Meet Our Event Partners

The mission of Lexington Theological Seminary is to prepare faithful leaders for the church of Jesus Christ and, thus, to strengthen the church’s participation in God’s mission for the world. Lexington Theological Seminary seeks to be a servant of the church preparing men and women for ministry in congregations through:

  • innovative instruction
  • flexible curriculum
  • congregational experience
  • compassionate engagement with the needs of society

The Seminary offers an online program that is competency-based, congregation-centered and developmental in its commitment to prepare people for leadership in congregational ministry. As an integral part of the church, the seminary serves the church as a theological resource and as a center of continuing education for clergy and lay leaders.

Creation Justice Ministries mission is to educate, equip and mobilize communions and denominations, congregations, and individuals to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation. Creation Justice Ministries’ membership includes Baptist, Historically Black, Orthodox, Peace, and mainline Protestant traditions. With a particular concern for people who are most vulnerable and marginalized, Creation Justice Ministries provides collaborative opportunities to build ecumenical community, guides people of faith and faith communities towards eco-justice transformations, and raises a collective witness in the public arena echoing Christ's call for just relationships among all of creation.

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 programs of continuing education and spiritual / vocational formation, including workshops and retreats, learning cohorts, courses, public conversations, and projects of applied research, all focused around spiritual leadership for a climate-changed world.