Community Building 2023-06-12T20:20:05+00:00

Community Building

Bringing people together to build loving relationships, cultivate wonder and gratitude, and serve the rest of the world is my life’s great passion. Indeed, I am convinced that our species’ destiny depends on creating and nurturing more and better tribes, each of which defines itself as with and for the others, rather than over and against them. That’s what much of my life’s work has been about!


About Me

Born in 1963, I grew up in suburban Philadelphia and studied at Haverford College and Brown University. As a teenager I became a committed Christian, and I spent nearly three decades as an inner-city minister, eventually founding Mission Year, a national service organization that recruits young adults to live and work among the poor in inner-city neighborhoods.

As I became an influential evangelical leader, I increasingly questioned my faith. In 2005 I returned to street-level work in Cincinnati, where I eventually completed my gradual transition from Christianity to secular humanism. Unless we’re actually discussing spirituality, however, most people can’t really tell the difference. I always believed in the transformative power of love, and I still do.

In 2014 I moved to Los Angeles to become the first humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California, a marvelous adventure that was eventually profiled in the New York Times Magazine. Homesickness is a real disease, however, so I gladly returned to Cincinnati in 2017.

My wife Marty and I have been married since 1988, and together we raised two wonderful young adults. Marty is an artist who also works for a non-profit organization serving homeless women and families, and I’m also a counselor, humanist chaplain and podcast host.


About My Local Fellowship

Shortly after returning to Cincinnati in 2017, I began hearing from local humanists eager to form a fellowship of the kind I often talk about on my podcast. Eventually Marty and I invited those folks to join us for a potluck dinner, and these days, we have a small group which meets, reads, thinks and fellowships together. While it’s been difficult to build with momentum (not least because of the pandemic), our experience in Cincinnati really underscores for me the importance of such communities.