Thebaid Project awarded 2018 Ganister Foundation Grant

The Ganister Foundation recognizes the North American Thebaid for its “innovative approach to advancing the mission of Orthodoxy in the United States.”

The Ganister Orthodox Foundation recently announced its grant recipients for 2018, which included the North American Thebaid Project, a two-year photographic pilgrimage covering over thirty Orthodox Christian monasteries across the continent from several jurisdictions, including over a dozen monasteries of the Orthodox Church in America.

Founded in 2001, the Ganister Orthodox Foundation:

Provides financial assistance for organizations and parishes with innovative approaches to advancing the mission of Orthodoxy in the United States…

Favor is given to proposals that address priority needs of the Orthodox Church in America, especially those that do so in catalytic ways.

The selection process also weighs leadership experience, clarity of goals, the presence of a stable funding base, and faithfulness to the teachings and ministry of the OCA. (Emphasis added.)

The North American Thebaid Project’s goals and components perfectly comport with those of the Ganister Foundation, as can be seen from the Thebaid’s purpose statement from mid-2015:

Helping to Expand the Mission of Orthodox Christianity in North America…

…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.

The Thebaid Project has derived much inspiration from His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon of the OCA, who has greatly emphasized the role of monasticism in the life of the Orthodox Church in America.

Indeed, in Autumn 2015, at the Synaxis of OCA Monastic Superiors, the assembly, led by Metropolitan Tikhon, affirmed three points with which the creative goals of the Thebaid Project particularly resonate:

  • the nurturing and encouraging of monastic vocations is a priority for the entire Church,
  • there is a need for creative methods by which the clergy and faithful might be introduced more fully into the richness of the monastic life,
  • the affirmation that parish awareness of monastic life ought to be encouraged. (Emphasis added.)

During my two-year pilgrimage, I have visited over a dozen Orthodox parishes in between monastery visits, giving presentations on the History of Orthodox Monasticism and digital slide shows of my monastery photographs. What I’ve seen and heard in follow-up from these parishes suggest these presentations had some impact upon Orthodox young adults who were considering the monastic life, and on catechumens new to Orthodoxy itself. May it be blessed!

Travel and photography for the North American Thebaid Project was completed in August 2018, and as a kind of “first fruits” of this unique endeavor, St Tikhon’s Monastery Press selected over a dozen of my images for their 2019 Liturgical Calendar, using the calendar to announce that STM Press would be publishing the North American Thebaid Book in 2019.

The Ganister Foundation Grant provides further affirmation of the value and validity of the Thebaid Project, for which I am most thankful.

Watch for more news in the coming days and weeks as we press forward with image editing and design of the Thebaid Book.

Be sure to visit our new Thebaid Online Store, where you can pre-order both the Standard Edition with cloth-bound cover & French-fold dust jacket, and the Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather, as well as view several prototype book covers. Signed copies bundled with signed/matted fine art prints are also available to pre-order.

The North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Association, established with the Blessing of His Grace, the Right Rev. +Paul, Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest, Orthodox Church in America.

The North American Thebaid Book, a large-format book of fine photographs of Orthodox monastic life — to be published in Spring 2019 by St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press — will be the culmination of this multi-year project.


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