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 I’m all about here in Cincinnati, both as the humanist chaplain at the UC and as one of the leaders of our local humanist fellowship.
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 pastoral counselor, a wedding and funeral celebrant and a podcast host.
About My University Chaplaincy
I founded the Humanist Chaplaincy at the University of Cincinnati in 2017 to offer spiritual encouragement, pastoral care, supportive fellowship and meaningful service opportunities to secular students, faculty, and staff at UC, and to inspire and encourage similar efforts on university campuses around the world.
Ours is the eighth humanist university chaplaincy in the United States, joining those at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Rutgers, American, Stanford and the University of Southern California (which I also founded in 2014).
The Humanist Chaplaincy at the University of Cincinnati operates as a chapter of the American Humanist Association under the supervision of its own advisory board. Like InterVarsity, Hillel, the Newman Center, and other religious organizations serving the campus, the Humanist Chaplaincy at the University of Cincinnati is officially unaffiliated with the university and therefore entirely reliant on private funding.
For more information about the activities of the students I advise on campus, check out the Facebook page of The Secular Student Fellowship at UC.
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 while it’s too soon to say “and the rest is history”, we’re definitely off to a good start.
The center of our fellowship these days is our regular Humanist House Meeting, every other Sunday morning, but we also have a vibrant reading group and plenty of social events and service opportunities.
For more information, check out the Facebook page of the Cincinnati Humanist Fellowship.