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.
We are guided by core values, which define our communities. They shape our interactions with each other, society and the world.
At Oasis, we think:
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.
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.
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.
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.
© The Oasis Network 2015
Shortly after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in pastoral studies, Helen Austen came to realize she could no longer support any religious ideologies. She redirected her passion for community and helping others by working as a center director and counselor for a local nonprofit that assists young families in crisis. Simultaneously, she completed her master’s degree in human services with a graduate certificate in professional counseling.
Now, Helen is bringing her training and passion for community to Oasis with a desire to bring together secular individuals and families who don’t fit in church. In early 2014, she founded and now serves as the executive director of Kansas City Oasis, a secular alternative to faith-based community. She also co-founded and serves as the president of the Oasis Network, the affiliate organization that helps to launch and support Oasis communities around the country.
Helen also enjoys working as an entrepreneur and currently owns and operates the highest-rated professional organizing company in the Kansas City metro area. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her kids, reading, dancing and teaching group fitness.
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 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 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
John Dehlin is a psychologist, researcher, podcaster, and social activist. He has a Ph.D. in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Utah State University. Information about his psychotherapy and coaching private practice can be found here.
John’s clinical and research interests involve the nexus of religion and mental health. John’s research has been published in numerous peer reviewed scientific journals including the Journal of Counseling Psychology (APA), the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Identity, the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, the Journal of Homosexuality, and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Prior to obtaining his Ph.D., John worked for seven years at Microsoft Corporation, and three years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the Director of the International OpenCourseWare Consortium.
John is the founder of Mormon Stories Podcast, the most popular and longest running podcast within Mormonism. Mormon Stories Podcast was established to explore and challenge Mormon culture.
John’s work has been featured in the New York Times, National Public Radio, ABC’s Good Morning America, ABC’s Nightline, the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, VH1, and RadioWest.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland and a graduate of the University of Michigan, Mike spent four years teaching English in Japan and then nearly twenty years as a pastor. After realizing he could no longer affirm the dogmas of religion, Mike came out as a non-believer on MSNBC’s “UP With Chris Hays” in March 2012. After that, Mike and some others in Houston began to wonder if they could form a new kind of secular organization that would provide the benefits of living in community but without the dogmas and supernaturalism of religion. In September of 2012, Houston Oasis was launched and it has been meeting and growing ever since. Mike’s work with Houston Oasis was the subject of an article in TIME magazine in August 2014
Mike is the father of two grown children. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, reading, and studying foreign languages.
Director of Oasis Humanitarian Relief
Michelle Morgan has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration and a minor in Psychology, but after graduating cum laude as a non-traditional student, only worked a year and a half in her field of study before giving up her career to be a full-time homeschool mom, as commanded by her then-held Evangelical Christian beliefs. During her years in ministry Michelle served as a youth minister, women’s ministry teacher, and Christian counselor, among other things. It was during those years of ministry she discovered her passion for international humanitarian work, and prior to leaving the church in April 2015, Michelle was in the process of relocating to Nicaragua as a full-time missionary. However, after years of devout faith and service, Michelle came to realize there wasn’t adequate support for her long-held religious beliefs. Despite this, Michelle was determined to continue her international humanitarian work.
Michelle and her husband James, both members of The Clergy Project, discovered KC Oasis in September 2015 and quickly became active participants in the Oasis community. She and James now organize KC Oasis’ “Community Groups” throughout the KC Metro area. Michelle also serves as Director of Oasis Humanitarian Relief and is organizer of its Mobility Matters Project, which takes small teams of volunteers on week-long trips to the poorest parts of Nicaragua to assemble and distribute free wheelchairs to people with disabilities.
Michelle and James have a wonderful blended family of seven children. In her spare time Michelle enjoys karaoke, dancing and binge-watching Survivor.
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.
Cache Valley Oasis
Kansas City Oasis
Kansas City, Missouri & Kansas
Northern Wasatch Oasis
Salt Lake City Oasis
Salt Lake City, Utah
Toronto (Downtown), Ontario
Utah Valley Oasis
Wasatch Back Oasis
Park City/Heber, Utah
West Hill United
Toronto (Scarborough), Ontario
South Puget Sound/Tacoma, Washington
Contact us to find out more about these communities in development or to learn more about starting or being a part of an Oasis near you.
1) Initial contact
Initial contact person completes our Oasis Getting to Know You form and schedules casual phone chat with Helen Austen or Mike Aus.
2) Receive start-up kit
Contact us to receive the Oasis Network Start-Up Kit- a comprehensive guide with resources for building a successful community.
3) Organize launch team
Gather at least 5 people who share a passion for helping to launch a new Oasis community in your area.
4) Arrange for team interview with Oasis Network leadership
We look forward to meeting your team over Skype or in person.
5) Approval and launch
Receive approval from Oasis Network leadership to move forward. Your team will then begin the
process of planning to form your Oasis. During this time, Oasis Network leadership will be
available for continued coaching and support because we are in this together.
Have other questions or need more information about starting an Oasis in your area? Contact us!