Monday, April 27, 2009

To give legal life to the Academy, a nonprofit corporation had to be created. This was easily accomplished by asking the Texas Secretary of State to formally recognize the Academy and we got word today that this was accomplished. Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Lynch, Rev. Dr. Cynthia E. Lynch, and Wayne Ford are the founding members of the Board of Directors. Articles of Incorporation in the State of Texas exist as do draft ByLaws. A formal approval of the ByLaws is necessary and that shall be done in a meeting of the Board in the next month.

Another big legal step is to become recognized as a nonprofit within Mexico. Martin Martinez and Maria de la Martinez Arroyo have been recommended as possible lawyers who can help accomplish that end. In Mexico, a corporation needs a much longer and more specific set of objectives that spells out what the corporation can do. In the USA, one can be much more vague and let the ByLaws and corporation policy statements spell out such details. Our hope is to get this accomplished within the next six weeks.

We have establish the core training courses and the initial marketing brochures. The plan is to take the six components of the course of study to become an Interfaith Minister and present them as Certificate Training Programs that run for two academic semesters and two short summer terms. This allows people who are interested in Interfaith to take these four programs (eight) course without signing up for the full course of study to become an Interfaith Minister. These course will start in the Fall 2009 semester.

The initial courses will be offered by Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Lynch but over time other trainers and course facilitators will be employed. Given that most of the early costs associated with the Academy shall be to employ the staff and Rev. Dr. Lynch is willing to waive part or all of his salary, the Academy should need only partial tuition and full fees from a few students. At a minimum, the Academy needs to cover expenses such as books and overhead costs. The Academy is also planning on being generous with Assistantships, especially in the beginning, to encourage early enrollment.

In addition, efforts will be made to add other programs and courses beyond the core courses. As noted in the web site, the purpose of the Academy includes training the helping professions. To that end, a Certificate Program in Introduction to Nonprofit Management is planned. One aspect of Interfaith Studies not covered in other Interfaith Seminaries is Atheism. We are planning to have a course addressed to Atheism. We would also like to launch certificate programs or courses designed that focus on particular religious traditions or aspects such as spiritual wisdom. Other programs and lecture series will be established as a need is identified for them.

Marketing the Academy is important. Two parallel initial efforts are important: one will be in San Miguel where an effort will be made to explain to people who might be interested in the work of the Academy; the other will be with the World Alliance of Interfaith Ministers. In San Miguel, religious, intellectual, and spiritual groups shall be contacted to explain the work of the Academy. In addition, an effort will be made to reach out to the general public through a speaker series, occasional talks at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and materials sent to the weekly newspaper the Atencion.

For the World Alliance, Rev. Dr. Lynch is already writing a theology column for its Interfaith Today online newsletter. In addition, he shall join the Council of Interfaith Seminaries and promote the Academy at the yearly World Alliance retreat in October, 2009 and the next meeting of the Parliament of World Religions, in December 2009 in Melbourne.

As developments unfold, this blog shall be updated.

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