Help support the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project, and become a ‘Thebaid Pilgrim’!
What is the North American Thebaid Project?
- A two-year pilgrimage to photograph Orthodox Christian monasteries of the USA & Canada;
- Leading to publication of large-format coffee table book in late 2018;
- More than a documentary, the Thebaid Project is a fine-art photography exploration, seeking to reveal glimpses of the hidden, unseen Monastic Way, through visual means;
- The Thebaid Project hopes to spur interest in Orthodox monasticism, and to contribute towards more monastic vocations in North America;
- A pan-Orthodox endeavor, covering monasteries from several Orthodox jurisdictions in the USA and Canada;
- A registered Non-Profit Organization, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status pending;
- Launched with the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Paul, Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest (OCA).
Watch the Thebaid Video:
Special articles to consider:
- ‘Pursuing the Light’ – A Theology of Photography
- Monastic Synaxis looks to ‘Creative Methods’ to Nurture Vocations
- What is a ‘Thebaid’?
- Goal & Purpose
- Endorsements & Press Reports
Travel and Photography officially began in early September 2016, and we already have dozens of monastery photographs for you to explore…
Now we’re gearing up for Phase II, to fund the remaining journeys to the four corners of North America. Read on and learn how you can help support the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage!
I almost named this section “Donate.”
But “Donate” is not really the right word. A “donation” is what one gives to a charity, and the Thebaid Project is not a charity.
It is a shared endeavor, with shared blessings along the journey, as everyone who provides financial support for the North American Thebaid Project will receive rewards (or “perks”) in appreciation for their contribution.
We are seeking not just donors, but fellow “Thebaid Pilgrims” who will help make possible this two-year journey to create these unique photographs and the resulting book, and who themselves will expand their visits to and support of Orthodox monasticism in North America. And perhaps some will become monastics themselves…
Importantly, though we are established with the blessing and endorsement of our Bishop, we are not funded by the Church. Nor do we have corporate sponsors or wealthy benefactors to financially support our operations. We rely upon individual contributors to do this good work and share the light and life of Orthodox monasticism.
We are asking you to help us complete this endeavor to the glory of God, and to the strengthening of Orthodox spiritual life in North America.
We believe very strongly in the missionary aspect of the Thebaid Project, in making sure every supporter feels included and appreciated, with the hope that people and parishes will truly become energized and involved through this endeavor.
How to Contribute
The Thebaid Project is not funded by any Orthodox Church, diocese, deanery, or organization, but is supported 100% by individual contributors. Here’s how you can help:
Visit our new GoFundMe page, where you can pre-order the Standard Hardcover Edition of the Thebaid Book, as well as the Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather, plus receive additional valuable rewards. We also have discounts up to 33% off for multiple copies.
Probably everyone has heard of PayPal, which has grown from a basic service once deeply tied to ebay online auctions, to a large and growing financial platform driving the arts, charities, entrepreneurial ventures, online stores, and much more. To date, about 20% of all financial support for the Thebaid Project has come through direct PayPal contributions.
By Check or other direct payment:
I have had a number of supporters express their desire that the Thebaid Project receive 100% of their contribution. And in fact, as of this writing, almost a third of all financial support for the Thebaid Project has been in the form of personal checks or cash. Leave a message for me below if you wish to support the Thebaid Project by check or other funding method.
This is a unique opportunity for churches, schools and other Orthodox Christian institutions and organizations to help support the Thebaid Project, while in turn receiving professional-quality photographic services.
The name for this option comes from Acts 18:1-3, where we learn that the Apostle Paul worked with Aquila and Priscilla making tents to support themselves in Corinth while building up the church there.
With this option, in addition to delivering my standard presentation on the Thebaid Project (talk with digital slide show), I would do a 1-2 day photo shoot for the host parish/school/seminary. The images could be of parish life, worship, church school, etc., or of the iconography, church building, and campus. Advance consultations with each parish would help determine their specific needs, so as to create a work list and schedule to use as a guide for the photography.
For examples of my photography at the parish level, you are invited to explore the website of my home parish, Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit in Cincinnati.
Contact me for details, questions and to schedule…
Where your contributions go:
It is essential for the Thebaid Project to have financial oversight and transparency. To that end, I invited several professionals to join the team.
The North American Thebaid is officially registered as a Non-Profit Association — 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status pending — in the State of Alabama, with two additional officers, Steva S. Austill (Treasurer), and James J. Condra (Secretary). We hold regular meetings and have full reporting. Once the crowdfunding period ends and the travel and photography begins, we will adopt a regular schedule for public financial reporting for our supporters.
For ease of access, the Budget and other Business Plan documents are also included in our Thebaid Dropbox Public Folder. You can also explore a wealth of additional detailed information about the Project here.
Without going over the Project Budget line-by-line, here’s a quick look at practical, real-world needs at some of our standard contribution levels:
- $25 = a tank of gas, which means about 400 miles down the road!
- $50 = 1 month of auto insurance
- $75 = 1 month of wireless phone and data service
- $100 = 4 tanks of gas = 1600 miles!
- $400 = the cost of applying for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with the IRS ($400 just to file!)…
We also have had many supporters offer in-kind contributions of time and talent:
- One donor specifically earmarked funds for two new tires and 4-wheel alignment warranty…
- Another hosted a fundraiser…
- Another paid for a banner ad on an Orthodox site wth 100,000 monthly views…
- Another helped with the shoot for the intro video…
- Still another donated his legal services to set up the Non-Profit Association…
- Yet another is advising on non-profit board procedures, reporting and fundraising…
- And another provided a digital projector on extended loan, which enables us to deliver professional quality presentations to parishes and schools.
So, as you can see, this truly is a team effort, and we invite you to join us!
Rewards for Thebaid Supporters:
- $275 — As our special thanks for backing the Thebaid Project at the $275 level, we will send you the Founding Subscribers’ Limited Edition of the North American Thebaid Book, PLUS a SIGNED Fine Art Print from the Thebaid Project — The Limited Edition features Bonded Leather cover, with gold-foil stamped title, in handsome, cloth-bound slipcase, with ribbon marker, heavyweight matte, acid-free/lig-free fine-art paper, 157gsm/120# (SIGNED & NUMBERED; total quantity limited to 500. Founding Subscribers’ names will be included in a special acknowledgment page in the book). The fine art print will be on 8×10 archival, museum-quality paper, in an 11×14 museum mat, signed). Plus, you will receive the digital rewards for the $25 level.
- $100 — To thank you for backing the Thebaid Project at the $100 level, we will send you a SIGNED, First Edition Book, Hardbound, cloth-cover, with deluxe, French-fold dust jacket; heavyweight matte, acid-free/lig-free fine-art paper, 157gsm/120#, PLUS a SIGNED Fine Art Print from the Thebaid Project (see above for specs). PLUS you will receive the digital rewards for the $25 level.
- $50 — For backing the Thebaid Project at $50, we will send you a First Edition copy of The North American Thebaid Book — (See above for specs.) PLUS you will receive the digital rewards for the $25 level.
- $25 — Back the Thebaid Project at the $25 level and receive ‘Pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain’, a Photographic eBook on Mount Athos (universal format, able to be enjoyed on any tablet, smartphone, PC or Mac, using iBooks, Kindle and other apps), featuring dozens of photographs of Mount Athos by Ralph H. Sidway.
- BONUS REWARD: All supporters at $25 and above will also receive the eBook edition of my 2014 coffee table book of my award-winning landscape images, Pursuing the Light – Forty Years of Photography.
- SECOND BONUS REWARD: All supporters at $25 and above will also receive 3 high-resolution image files from my Mount Athos Collection. Suitable for prints up to 8×10 inches, and for computer, tablet and smartphone desktop/wallpaper.
We have already had a number of supporters commit to contributions at higher levels than the $275 Founding Subscribers’ Limited Edition Book & Print. Therefore, we have created higher-tier reward levels, reflecting significant per-unit savings for both the First Edition Book, and the Limited Edition.
These options are ideal for those wishing to give copies of the finished Thebaid book as gifts, for parishes, or for groups of supporters desiring to band together to aid the Thebaid Project while saving up to 33% off the individual unit reward levels:
- $1000 —With great appreciation for supporting the Thebaid Project at the $1000 level, we will send you FIVE (5) Copies of the Founding Subscribers’ Limited Edition, PLUS FIVE (5) SIGNED Fine Art Prints from the Thebaid Project (Ltd. Edition Books SIGNED & NUMBERED; total quantity limited to 500. See above for specs on the book and the prints.) Plus, you will receive the digital perks for the $25 level. — SAVE 27% over the single copy level.
- $700 — As our special thanks for supporting the Thebaid Project at the $700 level, we will send you THREE (3) Copies of the Founding Subscribers’ Limited Edition, PLUS THREE (3) SIGNED Fine Art Prints from the Thebaid Project (Ltd. Edition Books SIGNED & NUMBERED; total quantity limited to 500. See above for specs on the book and prints.) Plus, you will receive the digital perks for the $25 level. — SAVE 15% over the single copy level.
- $500 — As our special thanks for supporting the Thebaid Project at the $500 level, we will send you TWO (2) Copies of the Founding Subscribers’ Limited Edition, PLUS TWO (2) SIGNED Fine Art Prints from the Thebaid Project (Ltd. Edition Books SIGNED & NUMBERED; total quantity limited to 500. See above for specs on the book and prints.) Plus, you will receive the digital perks for the digital perks for the $25 level. — SAVE 9% over the single copy level.
- $200 — To thank you for backing the Thebaid Project at the $200 level, we will send you THREE (3) SIGNED, First Edition Books, PLUS THREE (3) SIGNED Fine Art Prints from the Thebaid Project (see above for specs and ship dates). PLUS you will receive the digital perks for the digital perks for the $25 level. — SAVE 33% over the single copy level.
Estimated Delivery Schedule for Rewards:
- BOOKS: Both the Founding Subscribers’ Limited Edition and the First Edition of the Book have a target ship date of October 2018. Thebaid supporters will receive their books before general distribution of retail orders begins.
- FINE ART PRINTS: Our goal is to begin shipping the Fine Art Prints, matted and signed, in mid-2017. These will be shipped in special protective cartons to ensure safe delivery.
- DIGITAL REWARDS PACKAGE: All digital rewards are delivered electronically within a day or two after you have made your contribution. I use Dropbox, and send emails to supporters with the link to download the two eBooks and three image files.
More Ways You Can Help!
In addition to your prayers and financial support, your help in spreading the word would be greatly appreciated!
Please consider sharing news about the Thebaid Project through the following means:
- Sign up in the right hand column for email updates, so you can keep up with the Thebaid Project;
- Like & share us on Facebook and other social media;
- Use the handy GoFundMe share tools!
- Email your family and friends and share our project links;
- Download and use our Logo and Custom Graphics in your posts, emails, church bulletins and other methods of sharing;
- Speak to your priest or pastor about inviting me to give a presentation at your church;
- Consider taking up a collection at your church to support the Thebaid Project. We’ll send you the finished book for your Church Library in appreciation;
- Pray for safe travels and God’s blessings on this project;
- And remember to pray for, support and visit the Orthodox monasteries in your region!
Please contact me for more information and with any questions. Thank you so much for your interest, prayers and support!
Some common questions are addressed below. If you don’t see an answer to your question, please contact me, and I’ll get back to you promptly. You can leave a message in the ‘Comments’ section at the bottom of the page, or send me a message through the Thebaid Facebook page, or email me at zosimas at thebaid dot org.
With humble thanks for your prayers and support…
GoFundMe Phase II Crowdfunding Campaign:
The initial North American Thebaid Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign concluded on September 11, 2016, raising over $6000 to enable travel and photography to begin immediately and continue through the end of 2016.
We have chosen GoFundMe for our Phase II Crowdfunding Campaign for some very important reasons:
- No end date required (Indiegogo & Kickstarter have limitations on how long a campaign can run if it has not yet reached its goal). The GoFundMe campaign will run continuously through the end of the Thebaid Project.
- No penalty for not reaching our goal in a set period of time.
- Orthodox Christians are already familiar with GoFundMe, and have been using it for a variety of projects and charities.
- GoFundMe is the #1 Fundraising Platform. “People have raised more money on GoFundMe than anywhere else.”
- All contributions are 100% protected, and the GoFundMe support desk promises 5 minute support response 24/7.
Our original Business Plan, drafted in mid-2015, called for a second crowdfunding campaign to begin in early 2017, so we are right on target with our projections established almost two years ago. We feel confident that through partnering with GoFundMe, as well as through direct contributions, parish presentations and fundraisers, and other fundraising methods, that we will see support for the North American Thebaid steadily grow all the way to the successful publication of the book in 2018.
What is Crowdfunding?
This unique method of raising funds has been integral to the Church from its earliest days, where many each contribute a small portion to support a missionary effort or a worthy cause.
What about the Pre-Orders for the Thebaid Book?
Every aspect of our fundraising — from crowdfunding to direct contributions, to parish presentations and fundraisers — includes pre-orders for the finished book, both in the Standard Hardcover Edition, and the Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather.
This is a time-honored method used by such well-known artists and photographers as John James Audubon and Ansel Adams. Sometimes referred to as a Founding Subscriber’s Edition, this pre-order business model is being embraced anew by independent publishers to help ensure initial sell-through of the first printing, and the ultimate success of specialty books for niche markets, and is perfectly suited for the Thebaid Project.
In addition to the Standard Hardcover Edition and the Deluxe Limited Edition, we wanted to provide additional rewards, hence the Digital Rewards Package for all contributors at $25 and up, and the signed/matted Fine Art Prints for all supporters at $100 and up. It’s our way of expressing our heartfelt thanks for our fellow Thebaid Pilgrims.