I must say, I’m pretty damned excited for my newest adventure. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, read on. I lay it all out below in the first edition of a new TCP newsletter that debuted today and is written for participants in our Online Community of Forums. I share it with all of you so you can get an inside peak of life within The Clergy Project.
And as you read, please consider partnering financially with The Clergy Project. They’re literally the only organization like this in the entire world. Literally. You can read more about their valuable work by visiting ClergyProject.org or start your contribution plan by clicking here.
Hello all you amazing people of The Project!
In the midst of all the turbulence and chaos spreading ever-more furiously around this globe of ours, I wish we could say a few magic words to make it all dissipate into a beautiful oasis of the best of humanist potential. Unfortunately, we cannot.
But one thing we can do is celebrate the place of daily post-faith strength we find in The Clergy Project. Here at TCP, we continue to provide career transition services through the Transitional Assistance Grant. We continue to connect our people with free secular counseling through Recovering from Religion’s The Secular Therapy Project. And even now this month, funded by your own generosity and that of our partners, we have launched our first-ever social media marketing campaign, reaching out via Facebook and Instagram to closeted unbelieving religious leaders who currently remain in their ministries.
As you may already be quite well aware, last week was The Clergy Project’s second Annual Meeting. After launching as a collaborative project in 2011, TCP then became its own 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2015, and it’s been quite an exciting ride with every twist and turn along the way.
Through many of those years, Terry Plank has served us well as our President of the Board of Directors. TCP remains an all-volunteer-led organization without any paid staff, and as such, Terry’s tireless efforts have spearheaded the process of helping us structure and solidify TCP toward its becoming a well-organized nonprofit. Every step of the way, his sharp attention to detail and passion for systems have served us tremendously well. But alas, Terry has now come to the end of his term as our first president and has stepped down last week. The rest of us on the Board remain grateful for his leadership.
By now you may have also heard that I’ve been granted the incredible privilege of now serving you as our project’s new board president. TCP has carved out a central place in my own life since I first discovered it in July 2014, and I am thrilled to receive the awesome responsibility now entrusted to me.
And now, more than anything else, this is what brings us to my primary reason for writing you this little note today. Of our nearly 760 project participants, there are many I’ve not yet met personally. And for those who don’t really know me yet, I simply want to take a moment to more properly introduce myself.
Like many of us, I come from the world of evangelical Christianity, where I was in ministry for sixteen years, including four years as Lead Pastor for a wonderful church in Chicago’s western suburbs. But as much as I loved my job and its many positive opportunities, I too—just like the rest of us—eventually came to realize I no longer believed any of the god-stuff. And just like you, I began taking steps of transition beyond religion.
Like many of us, my life is still very much in transition today. I’m no superhero, believe me. I’ve been out of ministry for nearly five years now and have invested in some entrepreneurial endeavors along the way, yet the vast majority of my income is found by waiting on tables at a local Chicago restaurant. Come grab a bite to eat here in this fine city, and you just might find yourself giving me your beer order. So no, I’m no secular rockstar, just a regular Joe like each of the rest of us Janes and Joes out there in the world, working to connect dots as we navigate these post-faith obstacles together.
Like many of us, the shrapnel of deconversion has taken its toll on my relationships and family as well. I too have suffered the turbulence of divorce, and my children now live two states and five-hundred miles away. Like so many here at The Project, a good many of my extended family members believe I have cut myself off from God’s love and that I am now condemned as a result. Not an easy situation, for sure, but neither is it a unique situation around The Project. So many of you are wading through these very same waters right now, as I write this and as you read it.
But this is the beauty of The Clergy Project. In the midst of this post-faith life’s many challenges, we have each other to lean on and confide in. We have one another to draw support, guidance, and wisdom from. We have discovered a whole world of others who have gone through and continue to go through the same kind of things that we ourselves do. And in this we find strength. In this we find community. In this we find the best rendition of secular hope. We’re all in this together, learning together and even laughing together every step of the way.
There is much more I could say and much more we could all contribute in conversation with one another. And I look forward to opportunities for us to do so. The time we all have to contribute to The Clergy Project and its Online Community of Forums may be limited, but I’d invite you to make the most of what you can. Together we will continue to see great things for TCP and for one another. I look forward to this next year and to being able to serve you to the best of my ability.
I also look forward to sending more of these notes, hopefully every week or two. My hope is that they can serve to help keep us all a little more excited and a little better informed. If there’s any way I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out and I’ll do my best. Again, thank you for allowing me to introduce myself. I look forward to many great conversations together.
Moving forward together,