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ABOUT THE OASIS NETWORK:

Our Mission:
The mission of the Oasis Network is to help other cities form their own Oasis communities by providing support, a working model, ongoing coaching, resources, and a greater community at large.

Our Philosophy:

Oasis is a place for the non-religious to come together to celebrate the human experience. We understand that vibrant communities are central to human happiness and well-being. That’s why we need Oasis: to provide a place for like-minded individuals and families to connect, be inspired and feel empowered. Every Sunday morning, we offer you the chance to get together to discuss real-world principles supported by evidence and free thought, not scripture or revelation. Furthermore, we provide a place where your children can explore their developing world views, ask questions and make friends in an environment that’s supportive of critical thinking.

Oasis is creating community for the good of humanity. 
Here's how...

 

1. Education (Sunday mornings)

Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” It is in the spirit of Ford’s quote that Oasis’ gather together every Sunday to challenge our assumptions, broaden our horizons, and (hopefully) learn something new. It is our expectation that, in so doing, we will become better neighbors, friends, parents and lovers. And, oh yeah, we have coffee, sweets, and some pretty great music.


2. Conversation (Community Groups and social activities)

Our culture is increasingly linear. We sit in rows, stand in lines, and scroll down feeds. Is it any wonder that, as a nation, we are more divided than ever before? That’s why, at Oasis, we value the power of face-to-face and authentic conversations. Therefore we gather together throughout the week in homes, restaurants, and even bars to talk about important and interesting issues, and share our stories and our lives.


3. Mobilization (Local and international outreaches)

As much as we value education and conversation we also understand that, perhaps more than ever, what our culture needs are people who are willing to get up and actually do something. Therefore we promote and facilitate opportunities for you to engage in service both locally and internationally.

Our Oasis Values define our community and help shape our interactions with each other, society, and the world:
 

  • People are more important than beliefs.
    Throughout history beliefs, dogmas, and ideologies have divided people and have been the source of wars, persecution, and other conflicts. The Oasis movement values the well-being of people over any abstract belief, dogma, theology, or philosophy. Our common humanity is enough to bind us together in meaningful community. (And, yes, we are fully aware that this is also a belief—but we’re just fine with a little irony in our lives!)

     

  • Reality is known through reason.
    Most religions claim to have special insight into the nature of reality on the basis of revelations given by supernatural beings. As a secular movement, the Oasis communities are committed to exploring and understanding reality on the basis of empirical evidence and rational discourse.

     

  • Be accepting and be accepted.
    Oasis communities strive to be places of acceptance for all people. We embrace and celebrate humanity in all its diversity and we foster an environment of compassion and kindness without regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and family structure.

     

  • Meaning comes from making a difference.
    Oasis communities do not exist only to satisfy the needs of their members or perpetuate the Oasis movement. Rather, Oasis communities are committed to service projects and civic engagement that improve the lives of others locally, nationally, and internationally.

     

  • Human hands solve human problems.
    The challenges facing humanity are largely created by humans themselves. We don’t wait for divine intervention. If the world is to become a better place for all people; it is up to us to make it happen through our collective wisdom, resources, and efforts.

OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM

ANGIE JOHNSON
President of the Oasis Network and Executive Director

 

Angie Johnson is an entrepreneur, teacher, and public charter school administrator. She has taken her love of mathematics and the Montessori philosophy of education and founded a K-9 public charter school for 500 students in South Jordan, Utah. After writing the school’s charter, garnering community support, and promoting the school through the approval process by the Utah State Charter School Board, she served as board president until stepping down to become a full-time administrator at the school. Her background in microbiology and master’s degree in mathematics education have served her well in developing and implementing curriculum which nurtures intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills. She is passionate about her role in providing individualized Montessori education in a tuition-free setting to the students of her community.
 

Prior to her work at the school, she conducted medical research, opened and managed a dental practice, taught math in both public and private settings, and started a small business. Angie likes words such as “instigate”, “organize”, and “initiate”. She reads voraciously and is fascinated by novel ideas, philosophy of any kind, and how humans think and learn. She prefers founding boards to governing boards, teenagers to preschoolers, and skepticism to dogmatism. In the past year, she has been instrumental in forming a secular Oasis community in Salt Lake City which is growing and thriving; many of the members of this fledgling community have become her fast friends. She finds meaning in attempting to give voice to secularism and bridge the religious divide in Utah through civil discourse and genuine relationships.


On a personal level, Angie’s greatest joy has been her family and the opportunity to raise her three amazing children. She has taught them all to spend as much of their summers as possible reading books such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Sherlock Holmes stories, while eating candy. (This is still her idea of a very good time.) She loves to travel, hike in the mountains, write, listen to live music, find and eat incredible food, and see plays and musicals. Her husband James is her greatest support and best friend.

JANEY-ALI RIZVI
Secretary

 

Janey-Ali Rizvi is a Pakistani-American and former Muslim who became a freethinker in 2007. Janey is a part of Houston Oasis in Houston, Texas and serves on their board of directors as the secretary.

ERIC ANDERSON
Treasurer

Eric Anderson and his family have been with Houston Oasis from the beginning and he now serves as their board president. He believes in the power of community to promote strong morals and foster friendship. Eric brings with him experience in the finance and investment industry where he currently works.

GRETTA VOSPER

Director-at-Large

Gretta has served West Hill United, a congregation of The United Church of Canada located in Scarborough, Ontario, for nearly two decades. With the leadership of the congregation, she has transitioned West Hill beyond doctrine and created a theologically barrier-free community known around the world for its ground-breaking work. West Hill is featured in the documentary Godless and the upcoming film, Losing Our Religion, by Zoot Media.

In an act of solidarity with secular Bangladeshi bloggers identified as atheists, arrested and threatened with execution, Gretta identified as an atheist in 2013. Recently, the United Church has initiated a review of Gretta’s effectiveness as a minister based on her atheistic beliefs. A hearing of her beliefs took place in June 2016 and she was deemed “unsuitable” for ministry on September, 8th 2016.

Gretta is the author of the national bestseller, With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important that What We Believe, and Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief, an exploration of prayer stripped of supernatural expectations. Additionally, she has published three collections of poetry and continues to write new lyrics to traditional hymns. She is working on a lectionary based service preparation resource for clergy seeking post-theistic resources. Non-exclusive inspirational liturgical and music resources prepared for use at West Hill – where those who hold traditional beliefs share the pews with others who don’t – are used internationally.

Gretta founded the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity in 2004. She serves on the Board of The Oasis Network, a growing network of secular communities. In the past she has served as a Director and Officer of The Clergy Project, an international network for clergy who no longer believe. Gretta also serves as a Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of Centennial College.

You can visit her at www.grettavosper.ca

Elise Pratt

Board Member

Elise is a mother of two, wife, elementary school teacher, and now a board member of the Oasis Network. She helped launch Salt Lake Oasis in 2016 because she was seeking a community for herself and her children after leaving Mormonism. “A church for non-church people.” Since Salt Lake Oasis has started she has loved making many friends with like minded people who understood her struggles with religion. 

One of the most important aspects of Oasis was having a place for her kids to meet, play, and learn with other kids. She took on the role of childcare director at Salt Lake Oasis and helped develop a childcare curriculum for the children that attend Salt Lake Oasis. Oasis is an important part of Elise’s life and it has been very rewarding for her to help start Salt Lake Oasis. She is excited to now be apart of the Oasis Network to help new communities form and to help connect current communities with each other. 

Clay Bolinger

Board Member

Clay is a father, an engineer, and an outdoorsman.  He enjoys sharing his love of fishing, hunting and the great outdoors with his wife and kids.  To him, few things beat being on the water for an early morning sunrise or hiking through fields with his dog. 

He and his family had been looking for a community of inclusiveness and caring, somewhere to meet other young families and develop friendships.  They found that in Kansas City Oasis in 2015.  Through Sunday gatherings and community groups, Clay and his family have developed many friendships and found the community they needed. 

He works as a Senior Process Engineer for a leading food packaging company.  In that role, Clay strives to improve manufacturing processes and eliminate waste in the forms of energy, material, and time.  He will use his process management skills to help the Oasis Network build, support, and connect secular communities.  Clay hopes that when secular people find themselves living in a strange city or isolated from family, they can also find support and refuge in a nearby Oasis community.

Julio Leal

Board Member

He's lived in Houston for 30 years and holds a master's degree in social work. He's passionate about diversity, volunteering, and helping vulnerable populations. He feels people are moving away from religious institutions but still long to be connected with their community and each other. It is his hope that Oasis becomes a welcoming place for people of all different backgrounds and faith traditions.

Jayrod Garrett

Board Member and Network Webmaster

Jayrod is a storyteller. He enjoys writing poetry about his heritage and fiction about the diversity of the world around him. To that end he started an organization in Ogden, Utah called Voices: Open Mic where he helps people to share their art and their talent with the community. He believe that the most powerful thing each of us possess is our own voice. If we but learn how to use it.

He came to Oasis from the LDS faith, and while he does not worship as they do, he believes himself better for having so many beautiful and trying experiences as a Latter Day Saint. He found Oasis when he started dating his wife and as soon as he joined on he began playing Dungeons and Dragons with the older youth which has bolstered their youth program. He believes Oasis provides people who have left religion a place where they can find community and learn their own path of spirituality.

He currently works for Verizon Wireless helping people with their phone service, though he is hard at work at his own website where he hopes he can build an audience for both his fiction and his poetry. You'll soon be able to visit him there. But right now it's still in development.