Letters of Inquiry for The BTS Center’s Innovation Incubator are Now Being Accepted

The BTS Center invites Letters of Inquiry for its 2018 – 2019 Innovation Incubator program, which supports Cairn and Compass Projects that map the contours of today’s religious and spiritual landscapes, mark creative paths for navigating them, and explore new ideas and insights for nurturing exceptional leadership in contemporary faith communities. Up to $70,000 will be awarded for the 2018 – 2019 funding cycle.


2017 Innovation Incubator Awards Announced


The BTS Center’s Innovation Incubator Awards $70,000 to Support Transformative Projects in Religion, Spirituality, Practical Theology, and Ministry

Portland, Maine. May 25, 2017. The BTS Center has announced that it will offer Innovation Incubator Awards totaling $70,000 to five projects between July 2017 and June 2018. (more…)

Bearings Garners Multiple DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards for Communications Excellence


Portland, Maine. April 4, 2017. The BTS Center’s blog, Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry, has – for the second year in a row – won multiple DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards of Excellence from the Religion Communicators Council (RCC), a national interfaith association of religion communicators at work in print and electronic communication, marketing, and public relations. Through the DeRose-Hinkhouse awards program, the RCC “recognizes the achievements of RCC members who demonstrate excellence as religion communicators.” (more…)

Faith and Leadership Article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald Shines Spotlight Upon Innovation Incubator-funded Research

In his latest piece for Faith and Leadership, “A Move to Part-Time Clergy Sparks Innovation in Congregations,” Innovation Incubator Award recipient G. Jeffrey MacDonald describes three models for part-time clergy leadership:

  • Pastor as equipper of laypeople (rather than provider of services)
  • Pastor as ambassador
  • Pastor as team member

He ends the article with crucial questions that should be addressed by every church undergoing the transition from full-time clergy leadership to other models of ministry management.

Innovation Incubator Award Recipient G. Jeffrey MacDonald Pens Piece for The Living Church

Sometimes, the switch to a part-time pastorate “turns out to be a blessing.” Just ask the folks at St. Columba Church, outside of Seattle, who discussed their experiences in the article “Full Hearted Ministry.” Published in The Living Church, the piece was penned by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, an Innovation Incubator Award recipient. It highlighted his BTS Center-funded research.

BTS Center-funded Work Featured in the Christian Science Monitor

Last June, The BTS Center awarded journalist-pastor Jeffrey MacDonald an Innovation Incubator award to research church vitality. When Jeff visited congregations with part-time clergy (or no ordained clergy at all), he often discovered energetic, creative faith communities that offer counter-narratives to prevailing tales of church death and decline. We’re proud to announce that The Christian Science Monitor recently featured Jeff’s work in its February 6, 2017 cover story, “America’s New Ministers.”

Letters of Inquiry for The BTS Center’s Innovation Incubator are Now Being Accepted

The BTS Center invites Letters of Inquiry for its 2017 – 2018 Innovation Incubator program, which supports Cairn and Compass Projects that map the contours of today’s religious and spiritual landscapes, mark creative paths for navigating them, and explore new ideas and insights for nurturing exceptional leadership in contemporary faith communities. Up to $70,000 will be awarded for the 2017 – 2018 funding cycle.


Application Dates for the 2017 – 2018 Innovation Incubator

Letters of Inquiry for The Second Grant Cycle Due by January 27, 2017

The BTS Center has announced the application schedule for its 2017 – 2018 Innovation Incubator. Due dates will be as follows, with additional information available on the Innovation Incubator webpage:

January 27, 2017: Initial Letters of Inquiry Due

February 24, 2017: Invitations to the Full Application Cycle Are Sent Out

March 31, 2017: Full Applications Due

End of April 2017: Applicants Notified about Funding Decisions


Save the Date: Convocation 2017


January 23-24, 2017. This winter, The BTS Center will continue a century-old tradition of bringing together nationally-recognized speakers to share ideas and perspectives about contemporary spiritual and religious concerns. Convocation 2017 – “Course Corrections” – will provide participants with opportunities to make meaning of the changes that are transforming 21st-century spiritual and religious landscapes.


New Course Announcement: “Spiritual Stories for a Wired World, with Elizabeth Drescher”

Spiritual Stories for a Wired World_web

“Spiritual Stories for a Wired World” is an online learning opportunity with Dr. Elizabeth Drescher – Santa Clara University professor, author, consulting scholar for The BTS Center, and co-editor of Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry. The course will help faith leaders develop more resonant and engaging public voices through blogs, local news outlets, social media, and other communication platforms.


The Great Bible Experiment: Innovation Incubator Project Debuts in September

Earlier this summer, The BTS Center announced the recipients of its 2016 – 2017 Innovation Incubator Awards.“The Great Bible Experiment” is one of our sponsored projects, and it will debut in September. We encourage you to participate in one of four town hall conversations, where all Bible-related questions, struggles, and opinions will be welcomed with respect.


August 10th House Concert: Heatherlyn

We look forward to hosting one of our favorite singers for an intimate show at The BTS Center. Enjoy an evening with friends, listening to Heatherlyn’s soulful voice through her thoughtful songs, stories, and poetry.


2016 Innovation Incubator Awards

June 16, 2016

PORTLAND – The BTS Center is proud to announce the recipients of its 2016-2017 Innovation Incubator Awards. Additional information about projects and investigators may be found on the Incubator Awards page.


Registration Now Open for Convocation 2016


convocation_2016_powerpoint_cropped_for_webDesign Thinking and Mindfulness have taken the business and social sectors by storm. From making an iPhone, to designing worship, to renovating your kid’s bedroom, design thinking lays out the process of moving from dream to deliverable. But you can work a process and fail to be present, which is where mindful contemplation comes in. There are specific habits that can equip creative individuals from all sectors of the community to more mindfully engage the creative process.


October 6: Book Event with Eric Elnes at 7 PM

This past January, keynote speaker Eric Elnes wowed participants at Convocation 2015. Unfortunately, many folks who signed up for Convocation ended up being unable to attend, due to a blizzard that slammed Northern New England. If you missed Convocation, or would like to spend some additional time with Eric, we’ve got good news for you. To celebrate the release of Eric’s new book, Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics (and Other Wanderers), The BTS Center is bringing him back to Maine.


The BTS Center Welcomes Doug Pagitt and Heatherlyn to Maine

Book Tour Event

August 16: An Evening of Music and Conversation (Portland, ME)

“If I do this, then God will do that.”

Sound familiar? Often we approach our relationship with God assuming that we have to act and speak a certain way for God to work in our lives. Yet throughout the Bible, we see God showing us that God is constantly present. We don’t need to summon God or say certain prayers to draw God near. In his new book, Flipped: The Provocative Truth That Changes Everything We Know About God, author Doug Pagitt asks: How would your life change if you changed the way you understood God’s nearness?


Save the Date: Convocation 2016



Convocation 2016 Theme: As pastors and lay leaders of faith communities, we are constantly beset by tensions between what we imagine, our resources, and our own personal inspiration. According to Troy Bronsink, the facilitator of Convocation 2016, design process teaches that such limitations are not obstacles, but crucial steps in the inspired unfolding of new efforts and projects. Ultimately, all innovation emerges out of a process that calls us to move from dreaming, to acting, to responding courageously to the outcomes of those actions.


Announcing the Newest Member of Our Team

AlyssaLodewickThe BTS Center is excited to announce that Alyssa Lodewick has been chosen to serve as Associate Director of The BTS Center beginning September 15. The selection committee was impressed with her breadth of education and work experiences, and her expertise in areas relevant to the mission of The Center, including educational administration, professional development, community organizing, and institutional advancement. She also has technological and communication skills we were seeking in the Associate Director.


New Additions to Our Team

PamelaShellbergPamela Shellberg, Ph.D. has been appointed Scholar-in-Residence to help us develop Converging Paths: the Path of Paul, as well as participate in overall program design and implementation for the Center. Dr. Shellberg was the Assistant Professor of New Testament Studies at BTS from 2009 until our closure in 2013. Pam has a deep knowledge of scripture, curriculum and course design, online learning, and educational assessment. She is an exceptional teacher, and has spoken of teaching as “a vocation to which I have been called,” in which “my primary task was to create experiences where students could flourish, participate in community, be supported in their process of vocational discernment, and to glimpse in themselves and in each other the image of God.” It is this vision that makes her so well suited for this position.

ElizabethDrescherElizabeth Drescher, Ph.D., a trusted companion and advisor during our transition, will be a Consulting Scholar in the coming year. Her work as a journalist and a scholar in contemporary American religion and spirituality places her in conversations with a network of other scholars, writers, and practitioners. Elizabeth will help expand a sense of cutting-edge relevance and intellectual substance – which we want to be a part of all the conversations of The BTS Center – through her blogging and articles. She will also advise us about new ideas and practices within the church. Dr. Drescher is a faculty member in religious studies and pastoral ministries at Santa Clara University in California. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards for the study of spirituality in everyday life.