Gratitude for Elizabeth Drescher

With this issue of Bearings, Elizabeth Drescher, friend and consulting scholar with The BTS Center from its earliest days, puts down her editor’s pen, wrapping up this project which has been her labor of love for the past five-plus years. We can’t let this moment pass without offering words of deep gratitude and praise for her skillful and spirited work as the primary steward of this publication, month after month, season after season.

In her very first piece for Bearings, dating back to the September 2014 launch of what was initially The BTS Center’s blog—a reflection called “Sharing the Load in 21st-Century Ministry” —Elizabeth shared her hope that this publication might offer space for “a lively, engaging, inspiring, and often challenging conversation.” And that it has.

Over these years, Bearings has provided a platform for this kind of lively, engaging, inspiring, and often challenging conversation, inviting readers into dialogue with ordinary ministry leaders as they have reflected on the challenges and opportunities of 21st century ministry. Along the way, true to Elizabeth’s vision, we have remained committed to amplifying the voices of leaders whose perspectives are not as often heard by the broader public—leaders in small church or rural ministry settings, folks ministering from and on the margins, and practitioners experimenting with new forms of ministry.

While the voices have been diverse and the topics wide-ranging, one thing has remained constant: behind each published author, just beyond the reader’s view and yet profoundly influential, the masterful editorial direction of Elizabeth Drescher. As one contributor recently shared in an email to me, “It was so good for me to craft an article for Bearings and to work with Elizabeth.  She honed and cut and reframed my words so I sound like such a better writer than I am. What a gift for a writer to have a skilled editor!”

I know those who’ve come before me—Bob Grove-Markwood, Pam Shellberg, and Alyssa Lodewick—would concur: Elizabeth’s insightful vision, wise counsel, and powerful voice have contributed immeasurably to the shaping and re-shaping of Bearings and of The BTS Center more broadly, enabling this organization to more fully live into our mission: to catalyze spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership.

As Elizabeth has said, this is a season in which the Board of Trustees and I are stepping back, taking the macro view, assessing the impact of our various programs, listening intently for the Spirit’s guidance, and exploring new horizons. That kind of venture takes time—and it takes space, too, which sometimes means we have to let some things go before we’re ready to pick up the new things that are emerging. Please watch for one more issue of this publication—a year-end December issue that will take a retrospective view, looking back at where we’ve been, celebrating the “Best of Bearings,” and then embracing the spiritual practice of letting go.

But before we turn to December, and before we hit the pause button, first we want to offer a hearty high-five, a hug, and a rousing round of applause for Elizabeth Drescher. On behalf of The BTS Center’s Board of Trustees, our staff team past and present, the dozens and dozens of contributors to Bearings over these five-plus years, and our loyal readers: Thank you, Elizabeth, for giving so much of yourself to this publication. We are truly grateful.

Elizabeth Drescher, Gratitude

Allen Ewing-Merrill

The Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill joined The BTS Center as the Executive Director in July 1, 2019. A graduate of the University of Maine (Orono), Ewing-Merrill taught high school English before attending Boston University School of Theology. He has served First United Methodist Church of Hudson, MA (2000-2007) and HopeGateWay in Portland, Maine (2007-2019). From 2011-2016 he also served as founding Executive Director of Hope Acts, a nonprofit focusing on immigrant support and addiction recovery. He is the founder and former convener of Moral Movement Maine, a faith-based network that advocates for social justice in the state, and he serves on the Board of Directors of the Maine Council of Churches and of the United Methodist Foundation of New England. He is married to the Rev. Sara Ewing-Merrill, and they have three daughters. Click here to view Allen’s Biography on our Team’s page.


Featured image: Kelly Sikkema (Feb 1, 2019) via Unsplash. CC2.0 license