Become a ‘Thebaid Pilgrim’

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.

NAT Mock-Up Book-red3
Prototype Book Cover

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…

You’ll be able to follow along every step of the way, as I post images from the different monasteries here on the Thebaid website, as well as on Facebook, and soon, on Instagram.

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:

Direct via PayPal:

PayPalLink-150x100Probably 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.


Creative Tent-Making:

Canon EOS 6DThis 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 weekend 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.

I am honored to be represented by the Orthodox Speakers Bureau for my parish engagements, and encourage you to contact them for more information on booking me for both regular presentations and presentations with photography services added.


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!
  • $200 X 2 = the cost of applying for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with the IRS ($400 just to file!)…
  • $500 = rent and utilities for one month

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…
  • Another loaned us his digital projector for us to use for presentations to churches and schools…
  • Others have offered lodging along the journey…

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 perks for the $10 and $25 levels.
  • $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 perks for the $10 and $25 levels.
  • $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 perks for both the $10 and $25 levels.
  • $25 — Back the Thebaid Project at the $25 level and receive ‘Pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain’, a Photographic eBook of Mount Athos (universal PDF format for iBooks, Kindle and other apps), featuring dozens of photographs of Mount Athos by Ralph H. Sidway. PLUS you will receive the perk for the $10 level.
  • BONUS REWARD: All supporters at $25 and above will also receive the eBook edition of my 2014 coffee table book, Pursuing the Light – Forty Years of Photography.
  • $10 — Back the North American Thebaid Project at the $10 level, and receive 3 high-resolution digital files of my photographs of Mount Athos, Greece. Suitable for prints up to 8×10, also for computer desktop/wallpaper images (delivery, September 2016, digital format).

Quantity Discounts:

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 20-30 % over 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 $10 and $25 levels.
  • $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 $10 and $25 levels.
  • $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 $10 and $25 levels.

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: All digital rewards from the initial crowdfunding campaign (which ends on September 11, 2016) will be delivered electronically in September 2016. I use Dropbox, and will send emails to supporters with the link(s) to download the image files (for the $10 level perk) and eBooks (for the $25 level and above).

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 Indiegogo share tools!
  • Email your family and friends and share our project links;
  • 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, and add the finished book to your Church Library;
  • 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!

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