Thebaid Project Update – January 2018

Continued growth and progress as we pass the midpoint of the Thebaid Project, but we need contributions to keep gas in the tank!

This was originally posted to our GoFundMe and Indiegogo crowdfunding sites last week.

Thebaid Project Update, January 2018

Dear Friends, Supporters, and Fellow Thebaid Pilgrims,

I hope you all had a blessed Christmas, New Year and Theophany season!

No, you didn’t miss an update in December, I did! But this one is well worth the wait, covering recent travel, upcoming schedule, and two special announcements.

Announcement #1 — We are officially at the midpoint of the photography, with fifteen monasteries photographed to date, and dozens of images already selected for the book. WE’re on track to finish the photography by June (or July), and for the book to be sent to the printer soon after that, to be in distribution by Autumn 2018.

Announcement #2 — I have been in communication with a leading Orthodox publisher since just before the new year. No agreement in writing yet so we cannot share any details, but their interest in publishing the Thebaid book is yet a further affirmation of the Thebaid Project.

Sanctifying the internet…


NOVEMBER 14-19, 2017 — Monks and Nuns of New Skete (OCA), Cambridge NY. Having just celebrated their 50th Anniversary, New Skete is perhaps best known outside the Orthodox Church for their breeding and training of German Shepherd dogs. You can view my extensive gallery of images at My heartfelt thanks to Br. Christopher, Sr. Cecilia, and the communities of New Skete for their invitation and hospitality.

NOVEMBER 20, 2017 — Skete of St. John the Theologian (ROCOR), Hiram OH. This was a brief, “get acquainted” visit, to a small but historic monastic community in northern Ohio. I hope to return soon to do some serious photography, but on my blog you can get a good sense of the beauty of the chapel and grounds from the few photos made with my iPhone.

Skete of St John the Theologian, Hiram OH


NOVEMBER 4-8, 2017 — Computer Work & Photography at Holy Apostles Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Beltsville MD. 

This “working visit” is a great example of how parishes can help support the Thebaid Project by hiring me to help with their photography, web, or computer/digital needs.

At Holy Apostles, I set up a dual-hard-drive backup system to enable the parish to better handle their growing photo and video archives, refreshing their computer systems and giving them a tremendous boost in computer performance. Thank you, Fr George & Mat. Deborah Johnson and parish, for your continued support!

NOVEMBER 12, 2017 — Holy Cross Orthodox Church (Antiochian), Baltimore MD.

This was a spontaneous, “get acquainted” visit made at the suggestion of a dear friend in the Beltsville/DC area (thank you Abraham!). I was welcomed by Fr Gregory Mathewes-Green to give a brief talk introducing the Thebaid Project during coffee hour, where I also provided my special info cards. I look forward to a return visit as soon as possible. Thank you Fr Gregory, and Ken & Carol Hines!

DECEMBER 10, 2017 — Parish presentation at St Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church (OCA), Norcross GA. A strong turnout of brave parishioners following the epic snowstorm in the Deep South made this a special event. My heartfelt thanks to Hieromonk Cyprian (duRant, rector) and Rdr Thomas, and to the entire parish for such a warm welcome and generous collection for the Thebaid Project. I look forward to returning later this year to do some photography for this parish, whose beautiful chapel reminds one of the wooden churches in the Russian North.

DECEMBER 16-17, 2017 — Photography at Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit, Cincinnati OH. This return trip to my home parish was for a special event, the visit of His Grace, Bishop Paul, and the ordination of Reader Johnothon Sauer to the Holy Diaconate, which I was able to photograph. Special thanks to Ron and Beth Skulas for hosting me for the weekend, and to special contributions for the Thebaid Project from existing and new supporters. I look forward to visiting again very soon, on my way north to Michigan (see below).



JANUARY 29 – FEBRUARY 4, 2018 — Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery, Rives Junction MI.  I am looking forward very much to finally seeing the new church at Dormition Monastery, and photographing the iconography, and the nuns’ way of life. There may be some winter weather in the forecast during the latter part of the week, and I am hopeful for a photogenic snowfall!

APRIL 28, 2018 — St. Symeon Orthodox Church Festival, Birmingham AL. I have been invited to set up a display of my photographs, and perhaps give my presentation on Orthodox monasticism and the Thebaid Project, at this special church festival, which is an important outreach to the Birmingham community.

JULY 22-26, 2018 — 19th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, St. Louis MO. The North American Thebaid Pilgrimage Project will be an official exhibitor at the OCA’s 19th AAC. Our display booth should be in effect a launch event for the book, which is on schedule to be in distribution in Autumn 2018. We hope to have a mock up of the book on display at the event.

Next destinations include:

  • Several monasteries in Michigan and Illinois, and possibly lower Ontario.
  • Southwest USA: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and then on into California.
  • Northern California, Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Alberta.
  • Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario… and hopefully, Alaska.



We continue our Crowdfunding Campaign on the GoFundMe platform, which will run through the completion of the Thebaid Project and publication of the book in 2018. Since January 2017 we have raised almost $7500 from almost 50 supporters towards the remaining $30,000 required to complete the travel & photography and the publication of the book. That is an increase of approximately $2000 since our last report in November 2017.

We need to raise an immediate $5,000 to fund travel and photography through May 2018. Can you help us?

If you have not yet contributed to the Thebaid Project, please consider doing so now. You’ll be supporting a worthy project, and will earn valuable rewards for your contributions. Find out more on our GoFundMe site.

This is a small operation with very low overhead. Thanks to a generous benefactor allowing me to stay at their rustic cabin in the woods when in between monastery journeys, I do not have any rent or utilities during this time of travel and photography. Expenses like cell phone, auto insurance, storage, etc. run approximately $200 per month; after we reach that virtually 100% of your contribution goes directly to travel and photography expenses.

Please share with your networks and help us get the word out!



Unfortunately, we have not been able to have the fine-art prints made as of yet, and regret to again have to announce postponement of their delivery. The mats, boards and packaging have already been purchased. Rather than guess at another date, we ask your patience and assure you of our commitment to complete them and ship/deliver them to our supporters as soon as possible.

These will be well worth the wait, with outstanding quality archival prints, in acid-free/lignin-free museum mats, signed on the mat, and ready for framing. Thank you for your understanding!



  • Over 25,000 website views (after two years) — that is an increase of about 8,000 since November 1, 2017!
  • Over 400 followers for the website, 270+ Facebook page likes, and growing numbers on Instagram and Twitter.
  • We continue to earn some very positive reviews and comments on the project which you can read here.



  • View hundreds of images from the monastery visits (so far) at our Galleries.


If you haven’t already, please use the link in the right column to follow us by email.

Stay tuned for more updates, and please be assured of our sincere thanks again for your support and prayers! Your contributions have been key to getting us into the midpoint of the Thebaid Project!

Ralph (Zosimas) Sidway

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