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The Crux

/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

The Crux is a program for progressive congregations facing significant changes in how they will embody their mission.

Congregations and spiritual communities are faced with the need to adapt to new realities which include increased reliance on part-time ministers with changing roles. Anxiety and concern about the future of congregational life is high, and progressive faith communities are facing key decision points. To provide context and tools to navigate these changes and traditions Renewal in the Wilderness is working with progressive faith communities to offer a series of online learning modules and in-person wilderness trips to locations in Maine throughout 2018-2019.


2018 Program Calendar:

  • August 9 (Online; 7:00-900 p.m.) Orientation

  • August 24-26 (in-person) First Expedition – Approaching the Crux

  • September (Online) Module – Retrieving Wisdom

  • October (Online) Module – Renewing Spiritual Imaginations

  • November 16-18 (in-person) Final Expedition – Plotting the Course

Expedition Details:

The two expeditions will be people-powered immersions in nature. We want these off-the-grid experiences to be as accessible as possible, and we choose locations and activities accordingly (e.g. the 2018 Expeditions will be at Maine Huts and Trails). We will eat delicious meals, hike at a gentle pace on well-maintained trails, and sleep on cushioned bunks in rustic huts. We encourage all participants to be mindful of their abilities as each will be responsible to carry personal gear and clothing on the trail. That said, backpacking experience is not required, and we can make accommodations. You will be accompanied by an experienced Registered Maine Guide who is trained as a Wilderness First Responder. 

Program Price:

The Crux program price includes in-person and online program facilitation, meals for in person gatherings, and overnight lodging during the Expedition elements. Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to in-person gatherings. Phone or email Aram Mitchell or Pam Shellberg (contact information below) for more details about pricing and available discounts.

Proposed 2019 Program Calendar:

Fall 2019 Cohort

  • August 23-25 First Expedition

  • Online modules to be scheduled

  • November 8-10 Second Expedition

Spring 2019 Cohort

  • May 3-5 First Expedition

  • Online modules to be scheduled

  • August 2-4 Second Expedition

Program Partners:

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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.

For more information about program content, program pricing, expectations of online activity, physical requirements for the wilderness expeditions, 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