Monday January 26, 2015 at 11:00 AM EST
Tuesday January 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM EST

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Marriott at Sable Oaks 
200 Sable Oaks Drive
South Porltand, ME 04106

Call (800) 752-8810 to reserve a room  

  • $89 per night if you phone before noon on Friday, 1/9/2015 and mention The BTS Center
  • After noon on Friday, 1/9/2015, The BTS Center's room block will close, and you will need to ask for the hotel's best-available rate, which changes on a daily basis

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Alyssa Lodewick 
The BTS Center 


Convocation 2015: "Gifts of the Dark Wood"

The BTS Center continues a century-old tradition of Bangor Theological Seminary, bringing together nationally-recognized speakers to share ideas and perspectives on key religious questions of the day. Join Dr. Eric Elnes and Dr. Marcia McFee as we explore the place where ancient spirituality meets 21st-century worship.

Convocation 2015 will take place on January 26-27, 2015 at the Marriott at Sable Oaks in South Portland, ME. This year's gathering has been designed as more of a retreat than a lecture series. It will provide opportunities not only to find both knowledge and nourishment, but also to satisfy the hungers and heal the hurts of head and heart.

Please note:  The 11 AM start time listed at left is for the Annual Meeting of the BTS Alumni/ae Association.  Convocation will start at 1:30 PM.  See schedule below.

If you wish to register only for the Annual Meeting of the Alumni/ae Association of Bangor Theological Seminary and do not wish to participate in Convocation, please register here.


Have you ever felt lost . . . empty . . . uncertain? When you experience these emotions, you are in good company. 

At this year's Convocation gathering, Dr. Eric Elnes will welcome us to the Dark Wood - a place explored, if feared, by the medieval poet Dante, yet also praised by generations of Christian mystics and biblical sages as one of the surest places to meet God. According to the ancients, you don’t need to be a saint or spiritual master to experience profound awakening and live with God’s presence and guidance. As Eric observes, "Your greatest assets on life’s journey in fact may be the very ‘gifts’ that you are seeking to be rid of, such as failure, uncertainty, lostness, and temptation." Although painful, these experiences can "guide you into conversation with the Spirit of the Living Christ, which also has been called 'The Unexpected Love.'”

As he places the mythological imagination of the scriptures in conversation with modern ecological and scientific imagination, Dr. Elnes will de-mystify the mystics, revealing a hidden fullness within emptiness, strength within failure, virtue within temptation, and clarity that comes from first getting lost in the Dark Wood. He then will close our time together by sharing important insights into how time spent in the Dark Wood by various Mainline and other denominations has led to a moment pregnant with hope and opportunity . . . a moment that sometimes is referred to as The Great Convergence.

As we venture through the Dark Wood with Dr. Elnes, we also will be guided by Dr. Marcia McFee. Throughout Convocation, she will weave experiences of the Dark Wood with music, visuals, and media – offering mystical, worshipful, and imaginative entrance points into our small group discussions and personal journeys. Together, we will learn about the beauty of liminal (or ‘in-between’) places, and about how our worship can embrace emptiness, loss, struggle, and uncertainty.

Convocation 2015 has been designed as a retreat for anyone - clergy or laity - who feels awkward in their search for God...who seeks to find holiness amidst their holy-mess...who desires real, concrete reasons for hope in a Christian landscape that often has seemed bleak or barren.

Come journey with us - and welcome to the Dark Wood!  


Convocation 2015 Presenters


Dr. Eric Elnes' work has been described as "reflecting the heart of a mystic, the soul of a poet, and the mind of a biblical scholar" who shows us how to "follow the Spirit in an age that is appropriately skeptical of spiritual claims." His upcoming book, Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Paths Beyond Religious Certainty That Point the Way Home, will be published by Abingdon Press in January, 2015.


Dr. Marcia McFee is a nationally-known expert on worship and the arts. She is the Curator and Visionary for the Worship Design Studio, an online site for education and inspiration about worship design and teamwork (www.marciamcfee.com).


All Convocation 2015 activities will take place at the Marriott at Sable Oaks, including the Alumni/ae Association Annual Meeting and Luncheon on Monday.

  • Registration Fee: $125
  • Call (800) 752-8810 by noon on Friday, 1/9/2015 to reserve a room for $89 per night. Identify yourself as a guest of "The BTS Center"in order to access the discounted rate. 
  • After noon on Friday, 1/9/2015, The BTS Center's room block will close, and you will need to ask for the hotel's best-available rate, which changes on a daily basis
  • A light breakfast is included on Tuesday morning for those registered for event; other meals are an additional cost.
  • Though not shown on the schedule, breaks will be scattered throughout the Convocation sessions.