Pre-Launch Announcement kicks off Thebaid Project

all saints 5
Icon of the Synaxis of All Saints, celebrated the first Sunday after Pentecost

We are officially in the “Pre-Launch” phase of the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project.

The initial crowdfunding campaign will be launching very soon now, as the last components are put in place this coming week.

I think it is especially fitting that my first public presentation on the Thebaid Project — to my home parish Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church in Cincinnati — was on the Sunday of All Saints. The icon of All Saints is one of the most vivid visual expressions of the Church, and conveys a sense of what the Thebaid Project is all about.

I’ve chosen Indiegogo to be our crowdfunding platform, due to its established reputation for creative projects, and its flexible funding options, and am currently putting the finishing touches on the Thebaid Campaign Page.

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a paradigm shift for anyone launching a project, introducing a new product, etc., from creatives to charities, from inventors to startups to realtors or artists. As the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo puts it,

Crowdfunding is “the process of raising money online through contributions made by many different people, sometimes hundreds or thousands, who share the same passion for your project.”

Supporters of crowdfunded projects typically receive rewards, or “perks”, in compensation for their contributions. Since the Thebaid Project is about photography, even the entry level donors (at $10 and $25) will receive valuable photographic rewards. Beginning at the $50 level, supporters will receive first edition copies of the finished book. (More details when we launch – we think you’ll be excited about the different perks at all donation levels.)

It seems to me that the Church has always been about crowdfunding, ever since St Paul collected donations during his missionary journeys to help the church in Jerusalem (cf. 1 COR 16:1-3). Now, through the internet and social media, it is easier than ever before to reach large groups of supporters to help fund endeavors such as the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project.

It bears repeating, the goal of the Thebaid Project is not merely a coffee table book. The finished book and indeed the entire Thebaid Project is merely a tool to advance a much larger purpose. As I have written on the Project page:

The goal is not a handsome photo book. Rather, the book is but a tool in service of the real goal. The point is not  to “abstract” or objectify the monastic way, and inadvertently further distance it from the minds and hearts of Orthodox faithful.

Rather, the purpose is to help make the monastic life vividly and beautifully present and real, and in the best sense of the word, to challenge our Orthodox brothers and sisters, especially young people and children, with the radical, martyric — but also joyful — call to follow Christ, which Metropolitan Tikhon spoke of in his AAC address, and which our monastic brothers and sisters faithfully strive to follow every day.

So when you support the Thebaid Project, you are supporting a unique creative effort to expand the mission of monasticism and Orthodoxy in North America.

The Thebaid Crowdfunding Campaign will have several supporter levels starting with only a $10 donation, all of which receive rewards (Indiegogo calls them “perks”) for their donation. This is intended to appeal to as wide a range of supporters as possible, including teens and young adults, who we especially hope will be intrigued by the Thebaid Project and show great interest in it.

We’re asking all our supporters to share the Thebaid Project with their wider networks, their home church, Facebook friends, and elsewhere. We’re also reaching out to Orthodox bloggers and news sites inviting them to cover the Thebaid story for their readers.

We view our supporters as fellow “Thebaid Pilgrims”, who are joining us for this journey to Orthodox monasteries of North America. From the road, I’ll be posting blog entries via the website and Facebook, Tweeting my highlights, and sharing new photographs from the monasteries via Instagram. We hope supporters will be fascinated by the journey and will enjoy following along.

Final logistical details this week include setting up the official bank account for the Thebaid Non-Profit Association, and other related components. Sign up at right for email updates and watch for more news coming very soon!

This initial crowdfunding drive will enable travel and photography to begin in September, God willing, and continue well into 2017.

Asking your prayers and support!

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