The Rev. Betsy J. Sowers – Minister for Earth Justice

SowersBetsy represents OCBC outside the church through involvement in both faith-based and secular climate justice organizations and actions. These range from fossil fuel divestment, to energy policy at the State House and Federal level, to working with opponents of new fracked gas infrastructure in the Commonwealth.

Inside the church, Betsy serves as a resource person to our Pastor and Teams to help interpret the climate crisis and sustainability issues within of a context of worship, prayer, education and action, both personal and public. She also helps members and friends of the congregation connect the dots between Earth justice and the other justice concerns that are intimately intertwined with it, especially racial, economic, gender, and immigration/refugee justice, and the possibility of just peace and redemptive community in a climate-stressed world.

Betsy came to her lifelong call to peace and justice ministry via her first post-college job as a flight attendant for Pan American World Airways, which gave her the gift of global awareness and brought her to Cambridge, where she found OCBC, a congregation that confirmed and encouraged her call. After earning an MSW at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, and the M.Div. at Harvard Divinity School, she was called as a staff person, and later Director in The Department of Church and Society of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts, serving as educator and advocate on peace and justice matters to Baptist churches in the Commonwealth. She also served the Massachusetts Council of Churches as Adjunct Associate Director. A clear call out of retirement to climate justice service has both surprised and energized her for another chapter of activist ministry.

Previous Artists-in-Residence and Seminary Interns

Linda J. Chase - 2016 Composer-in-Residence

lindaComposer and improvising flutist Linda J. Chase has been writing music for Old Cambridge Baptist church for over 20 years. During this time she has been honored to join composer/pianist Douglas T. Koch for his Epiphany Jazz Mass and other improvisational collaborations. Winning the Kaji Aso Composition Competition in 2007 instigated her incorporating poetry and spoken word into many of her pieces. In 2008 she composed a concert length piece based on Rumi poetry. In 2011 Ms. Chase received a fellowship from the Japan Foundation to explore the relationship between sound and silence in Japan but she ended up composing music based on Japanese poetry and reflections of her time during the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. In 2012 Linda spent a month as Artist in Residence at the Grand Canyon National Park where she composed pieces inspired by the beauty, reverence and conservation of the canyon. That year she also collaborated in concert with poet Jane Hirshfield for a performance of music and poetry. Linda is a Professor of music at Berklee College of Music, and leads the Interdisciplinary Connections Ensemble at New England Conservatory. Other courses of her design include: Music, Spirit & Transformation, Music Collaborations in the Arts, and Eco-Musicology. She is in process of writing a book on inter-arts collaboration called, Painting Music, Dancing Poems. Currently she is pursuing a PhD in Sustainability through Music Education focusing on Contemplative Eco-Aesthetics and holds degrees from Evergreen State College, Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory of Music. Ms. Chase is the founder and director of her own collaborative new music group Wild Garden Chamber Ensemble, which seeks to transcend traditional boundaries of composition, improvisation, poetry and visual expression. She has written for many chamber combinations, choir, spoken word, jazz songs and has recorded 6 CDs of original music. She also leads contemplative music and nature retreats.

The major composition she undertakes at OCBC in 2016 is titled, "Disturbance of the Spirit!" Most hymns and sacred pieces do not depict the Spirit as something to disturb us or shake us up. The music is, instead, usually very calm. This composition seeks to embody the idea of the Spirit's potential to disturb us and shake us from our calm.

The texts Linda is engaging thus far are from the books of Jeremiah, Psalms, Proverbs with the possible addition of Revelation and Acts. There will be two "hymns" imbedded in the composition that will be sung by the OCBC choir and the congregation. Later, those melodies will be able to be extracted and sung alone - with just piano or organ accompaniment - as congregational hymns. The extended piece that Linda is writing that precedes, surrounds and follows these "hymns" will be written for voices, strings, winds, and percussion along with choir and congregation. The piece will premier at OCBC in late fall. Linda is engaging in theological conversation about the composition with theologian and OCBC member, Harvey Cox, Jr.

Josh Gregory - 2016/2017 Seminary Intern

Josh GregoryBorn and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Josh majored in religious studies and minored in both hermeneutics and poetry at Swarthmore College where he graduated in 2015 with High Honors before enrolling at Harvard Divinity School as an M.Div candidate. Having rediscovered his Baptist roots at Old Cambridge Baptist Church, Josh works to cultivate a ministry that, like OCBC itself, attests not only to the vibrancy and plurality of the Baptist tradition but, through creativity and collaboration, can disrupt the expectations of conventional Christian worship.