In March of 2012, former pastor Teresa MacBain came out as an atheist for the first time.
Since then, she’s been about as public an atheist as you can get, holding positions as the Public Relations Director for American Atheists and the executive director of the Humanists of Florida Association:
Now, she’ll begin the next step in her journey away from religious dogma as the brand new director of the Humanist Community Project at Harvard University, a position just announced by the Humanist Community at Harvard (HCH).
Given Teresa’s background in building and leading churches, this is an ideal fit.
Over the past year, we’ve seen a rise in godless congregations led by charismatic individuals — Mike Aus in Houston, Jerry DeWitt in Louisiana, Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones all over the world, just to name a few — and part of Teresa’s job will be to offer resources to these communities so they can sustain themselves and be more than just a one-time event or publicity stunt. That involves connecting with the organizers as well as traveling to offer on-the-ground support for them.
Teresa will also assemble an advisory board of experts who know a little something about how to create and maintain groups like these.
It’s the atheist version of “planting churches.” Minus the nonsense.
The HCH announced the new position in a press release this morning:
“Teresa’s expertise building and maintaining churches makes her the perfect leader for this exciting new project,” said Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and Executive Director of HCH.
“My passion has always been to help people find ways to connect, grow, and make a difference,” MacBain said. “As Director of the HCP, I have the opportunity to assist free-thought and secular groups across the country achieve these goals in their local communities.”
… “There are certain secular things religious groups do well, and we’re going to carefully study how to replicate those successes without the dogma or the doctrine,” [Epstein] said.
When I spoke with Teresa last night, she was just thrilled about the opportunity to build these communities into stronger ones that can help people make that transition away from faith, or at least give them a way to live out their secular values without having to pretend to believe in church-like nonsense.
She’ll begin the new position in early September.
On a side note, Bridget Gaudette, a contributor to this site, will be taking over the position MacBain just left: director of the Humanists of Florida Association. Gaudette’s first major task will be putting final touches on the HFA’s statewide conference this November:
Congrats to both of them on their new roles!