About the Founder
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Greetings!  Thanks for turning to this page in order to learn more about the founding of this community.  Starting a new faith community is a very unusual undertaking.  When I tell people about this proposal, they often think I'm a deluded egomaniac, a scam artist, an aspiring cult leader, or all of the above!  I hope that this brief personal testimony will help you to learn more about me and about this proposed community.  If you have any questions as you read through this personal account, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail at steve@newfaith.addr.com or give me a call at 301-589-4349.

How this Proposal Came About: A Brief Spiritual Biography

I was born the youngest of eight children in a loving and supportive Catholic family.  My early childhood years were, for the most part, pleasant and untroubled.  I participated in all sorts of family activities, did well in school, and excelled in athletics.  My religious formation was also rich and engaging.  Through my family life and education, I was exposed to a very positive and upbeat version of Catholicism.  However, as I approached adolescence, I was challenged by many life changes.  My siblings were gradually leaving the nest and neighborhood friends moved away.  In addition, as many of my peers grew up and filled out, I remained pretty scrawny, so I was knocked down a few notches in the sporting arena.  

As a result of these changes, I became very anxious and distracted.  I completely lost interest in religion and got caught up in the values of popular culture.  Since I was very thin, I became obsessed with lifting weights and looking 'buff' so that no one would bother me.  I also sought to escape my anxieties through sexual conquests, alcohol, and experimentation with drugs.  I was still a good student, though, and I hoped to follow in my father's footsteps and become a doctor.  This ambition helped to keep me somewhat under control.  I was also fortunate enough to date girls who were a lot more concerned with sexual morality than I was.  They helped me to be a bit more conscientious and well-rounded than I otherwise might have been. 

My struggle with anxiety began to worsen when I entered college.  It became overwhelming in my second year of studies.  I became so anxious that I thought I would have to drop out of school.  At this time, I was taking a required course in world religions.  As I read one of the assigned books (Mircea Eliade's The Sacred and the Profane), I had a dramatic conversion experience.  Through this experience, I gained a profound awareness of God's presence in my life.  Actually, I regained the strong religious consciousness that I had as a child.  My chronic, paralyzing anxiety diminished and was replaced by the profound sense of affirmation and security that I was gaining through my deepening relationship with God.

It quickly became apparent that this life-changing experience was leading me toward a different career -- a different vocation or calling in life.  I switched my field of study from biology to religious studies and pursued a strong interest in the mystical writers of the major world religions.  I was especially impressed by the similar ways in which mystics in different religious traditions describe their experiences of God.  Their writings helped me to both understand and express my own intense spiritual experiences.

In many ways, I felt that these mystical perspectives on God were somehow deeper and more profound than many of the specific doctrines of the various world religions.  Thus, while I participated in Catholic ministry programs, I had trouble accepting many aspects of Catholic doctrine and ethical teaching.  In fact, I was not very comfortable with the doctrines of any established tradition.  I kept quiet about these misgivings, though.  After I graduated from college, I enrolled in graduate school at a Catholic institution and served as a campus minister.
Eventually, however, I became unable to simply gloss over my differences with Catholicism.  Ministry is an intensely personal vocation, and it is difficult to be an authentic minister when you are not honest with yourself or with others.  After wrestling with this dilemma for several years, I began to look at other faith communities and traditions, both new and old, but I couldn't find a group that had all of the 'elements' I was looking for.  One of these elements is a coherent view of God that fits with my experience of God's presence and guidance in my life.  Another is a clear and nuanced understanding of human nature, society, and the natural world -- an understanding that draws from science, philosophy, other faith traditions, and contemporary experience.

A third element has to do with spiritual development and 'ministry strategy.'  I could not find a tradition that embraced all of the diverse practices and disciplines that have helped me to grow spiritually.  While some individual congregations in different spiritual traditions have very dynamic ministry programs, others do not.  This is a 'hit and miss' proposition.  Many traditions seem to lack an official, comprehensive perspective on different types of spiritual disciplines and the many ways in which these practices can be woven into creative strategies for spiritual growth.

A fourth element is the 'social teaching' of a religious tradition: the views and values that help members to participate more meaningfully in civic and political life.  Certainly, many traditions -- especially Catholicism -- set forth values and principles that are relevant to civic and political institutions.  However, I did not feel that any tradition had articulated a social teaching that is sufficiently comprehensive, systematic, and practical.

As I became more and more frustrated in my search, I finally discerned a clear and unambiguous vocation or 'calling' to start a new faith community and to invite others to share in this spiritual quest.  I responded to this calling by carefully drafting an initial 'constitution' for this community.  This process has given me an opportunity to spell out all of the different dimensions that, in my view, should be integrated into the views, values, practices, and institutional policies of a dynamic contemporary faith community.  Much in this proposal is not original.  I have borrowed heavily from those aspects of traditional religions that I have found to be true and valuable.  In addition, I have received very helpful input from many individuals, and I am most grateful to them.  

This proposal is set forth in the various sections of this web site.  You may review these by linking to the 'Site Index.'  As you review the various sections, please remember that this is a 'work in progress.'  I am certainly open to ideas about how the various sections might be revised and improved.  So, if you have any comments on this proposal (positive or negative!), please send them along via phone or e-mail.  Better yet, if you would like to help found this community, please fill out the response form on this web site.  I'd be happy to discuss with you the process for reviewing, revising, and implementing this proposal.

Thanks again for your interest!  I wish you blessings and hope in your own spiritual quest.

Steve Cimino
Coordinator, The Eos Network of Faith Communities