The Crux

Please Note:

Our previously promoted program plan for The Crux is being revised to make it more broadly accessible and affordable. We remain confident that there is a need for this kind of experience, and that it will be transformative for participants.

/krəks, kro͝ooks/ noun 
1. the decisive or most important point at issue; 
2. a critical moment or turning point; 
3. the most difficult section of a hiking route or where the greatest danger exists

“Wildness reminds us what it means to be human,
what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”
– Terry Tempest Williams


  • Cultural change and shifting expectations impact how faith communities meet spiritual needs
  • Communities of faith face the need to adapt to changing realities
  • Increased reliance on lay-leaders and part-time ministers requires reimagining the roles and responsibilities of each
  • Communities of faith face key decision points affecting their ongoing impact
  • Communities of faith are disconnected from each other and from shared resources
  • Anxiety and concern about the future of congregational life is high


The Crux is a program for progressive faith communities facing significant changes in embodying their missions. It is designed to unleash creativity and prepare communities to wisely discern next best steps as they approach the decision points, the most difficult stretches of the trails they are on.

The Crux program is designed to bring together teams of three leaders from five communities (ideally one clergy and two lay leaders). However, teams of two, or individual leaders will also benefit from this cohort experience.

Wilderness is experienced and explored as a source of wisdom pertinent to the questions that arise when facing unfamiliar terrain. The wisdom of biblical narratives and practices of silence, action-reflection, and deep listening equip leaders to guide their communities through change. A spirit of solidarity and the sharing of capacities in the cohort experience magnify the impact in each individual community.

“Transition and change are things that naturally provoke resistance and anxiety in our human hearts. Fortunately, we are not alone in navigating the complexities of transformation. Progressive communities of faith are meant to be safe places where, in being vulnerable with our fears, we are encouraged to become intrepid, able to respond to change with courage, composure, and creativity.”
—Aram Mitchell, Executive Director of Renewal in the Wilderness

For more information about anticipated program content, program pricing, expectations of online activity, or physical requirements — or for other questions, contact:

Aram Mitchell, Executive Director, Renewal in the Wilderness; 207-200-3494

Dr. Pamela Shellberg, Scholar in Residence, The BTS Center; 207-774-5212

The CRUX program is not limited to New England. Please contact us if you are interested in bringing this program to your region or locale.  We will be very happy to talk with you about customizing the program for a group of leaders in your area.

Program Partners:


Renewal in the Wilderness is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Maine, working to connect organizations with wilderness as a resource that positively affects their capacity to make the world a better place.


The BTS Center is a think tank that catalyzes spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership. Through thought leadership and vocational development initiatives, The BTS Center equips and supports theologically grounded, effective leadership in 21st-century communities of faith and practice.


The Maine Conference United Church of Christ is a collection of 153 congregations of 16,000 people committed to moving forward together with Good News that can comfort our souls, prick our conscience, and provoke deep spiritual reflection.