May 23, 2018
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‘Head, Hands, Hearts, Smartphone’ theme of convocation

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — BTS Center will kick off a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Bangor Theological Seminary’s charter during its annual convocation Jan. 20 and 21, at the Marriott at Sable Oaks.

The theme of this year’s event will be “Heads, Hands, Hearts and Smartphones,” according to information posted on the center’s website.

Designed for ministers working in northern New England, it “will help you reflect, refresh, reimagine and retool, as we consider doing ministry in the new context in which the church finds itself, seeking to love God and our neighbors in a 21st century digital culture,” the Rev. Robert Grove-Markwood, the center’s executive director, said of convocation.

The event for the first time will be held in southern Maine. In the past, it has been held in Bangor, where Bangor Theological Seminary was located for nearly two centuries. BTS Center replaced the seminary July 1 and moved its offices to Portland.

“Northern New England has been a region of religious diversity, challenge and change since the first settlers appeared at the turn of the 17th century,” convocation keynote speaker Elizabeth Drescher, who teaches religion and pastoral ministries at Santa Clara University in California, said. “Religious diversity and challenge continue to be part of the landscape today.”

She said that some of the biggest challenges for ministry leaders in northern New England include:

Understanding the growing population of the religiously unaffiliated, the so-called nones, who now make up 20 percent of the U.S. population, and a third of Americans under age 30.

• Understanding the spiritual lives of nones as they are shaped by an increasingly digitally integrated culture where “networked, relational and incarnational” practices have replaced the church marketing and spiritual messaging practices of the Broadcast Age.

Convocation will include worship sessions and a workshop led by Drescher.

“This participatory workshop aims to prepare ministry leaders for the challenges of digitally integrated ministry with nones through rich content-sharing from new research on the spiritual lives of nones, hands-on digital ministry practice with peer mentors, and vibrant worship that applies key concepts and practices explored through the day,” she said. “Its aim is not merely to share new ideas and insights, but to shape new, collaborative ministry networks that can continue to practice and learn together long after the workshop is over.”

A senior contributor to the online magazine “Religion Dispatches,” Drescher also is the author of “Tweet If You (Heart) Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation.” She is working on a new book, “Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones.”

The Rev. Keith Anderson, pastor at Upper Dublin Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ambler, Pa., and the Rev. Cameron Trimble, executive director of the Center for Progressive Renewal, division of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, also will participate in convocation.

Anderson and Drescher are the authors of “Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible.”

For information, visit or call 800-287-6781.

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