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Ralph H. Sidway

Ralph is available to speak on: Orthodoxy and Islam, Orthodoxy in the Public Square and Eschatology, Monasticism in North America, Orthodoxy and the Arts, Photography within Orthodoxy  Learn more »

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Ralph H. Sidway

Ralph H. (Zosimas) Sidway has been a member of the Orthodox Speakers Bureau for several years, since the publication of his 2010 book, Facing Islam - What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad, and the launch of his blog by the same name, which as of August 2016 is nearing 650,000 views.

Mr. Sidway’s new project is a unique creative endeavor, which combines his love for Orthodox Christian monasticism with his lifelong avocation of photography.

Titled The North American Thebaid: Orthodox Christian Monasteries of the United States & Canada, Ralph’s new project “is conceived to be both pilgrimage and publication, resulting in a large-format coffee table book of fine art photographic images, with select, inspiring texts, covering as many Orthodox monastic communities in North America as God allows.”

His plan is “to travel over approximately a two-year period, staying for a few to several days at a time at various monasteries and sketes, living, praying and working with the monastics, while creating numinous, compelling images of the sacred space, the grounds, the life and the worship of these communities.”

In between monastery stays, Mr. Sidway will be presenting the work in progressat parishes, helping to foster connections between local churches and regional monasteries, and thus helping to expand the mission of the Orthodox Church in North America.

Ralph has been practicing landscape photography since the 1970s, working in both 35mm and medium format, and expanding into large format in 1990. His gelatin-silver (and now digital) fine-art prints have been accepted into and won awards at juried exhibits across Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and from Atlanta to Iowa.

An avid freelancer, his work has also included architecture, equine and the performing arts, and has been published in numerous books and magazines. In 2013 he published a handsome coffee-table book, Pursuing the Light - Forty Years of Photography’, which provides a career-spanning retrospective of his landscape photography.

Ralph’s love for Orthodox monasticism dates back to the late 1980s. He was received into the Orthodox Church in 1987 at Archangel Michael Church (Louisville KY, Antiochian) by Fr Alexander Atty of beloved memory, his first exposure to Orthodox monasticism being through parish retreats to Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City PA, as well as two trips to Mount Athos in 1988 and 1990 with Fr Atty. One of his photographs from his 1988 pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain was selected for the cover of the book, St. Silouan the Athonite (SVS Press, 1999).

Since 2005 Ralph has made frequent pilgrimages to monasteries from Ohio and Michigan to New Mexico and California. The idea for the North American Thebaid Project came while he was at St Gregory Palamas Monastery in northern Ohio for three months during the winter of 2015.


Speaking Engagements: Mr. Sidway’s parish presentation in support of the North American Thebaid Project includes a talk on the history of Orthodox monasticism and its growth in the USA and Canada, and features an extensive digital slide show of his photographs.


Speaking Engagements with Parish Photo Shoot: Some parishes may wish to take advantage of a unique opportunity to both support the Thebaid Project, while at the same time enhancing their own parish image archives, website, and social media platforms through what Mr. Sidway calls his “Tent Making Exchange” (based on the example from Acts 18:1-2). With this option, in addition to giving his standard parish presentation, Ralph will do a weekend photo shoot for the host parish. The images could be of parish life, worship, church school, etc., or of the iconography, church building, campus. Mr. Sidway would discuss with each parish their specific needs to create a work list and schedule to use as a guide for the photography. For examples of Ralph’s photography at the parish level, you are invited to explore the website of his home parish, Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit in Cincinnati.

The North American Thebaid Project is a registered non-profit association, 501(c)(3) status pending, established with the blessing of His Grace +Paul, Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest (OCA). You can learn much more about the Thebaid Project on the official website,


A parishioner at Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit in Cincinnati OH (OCA, Fr. Steven Kostoff, Rector) since 2001, Mr. Sidway has served as parish webservant, on the parish council and in the sacristy, and sings in the choir.  He holds a BA in Philosophy from Transylvania University, Lexington Ky (1983), where he was a Rhodes Scholarship Finalist, graduating Magna Cum Laude.


Endorsements for Mr. Sidway’s writing on Islam have come from Orthodox pastors and monastics, as well as from noted Islam scholars. His original articles have been published at,, and internationally in Russia and the United Kingdom. He has also been interviewed on Ancient Faith Radio, Orthodox Christian Network, and other local and national radio programs. He has been a sought after speaker on this subject at Orthodox parishes since 2010.

You may learn more about Mr. Sidway’s writing on the intersection of Orthodoxy and Islam at OSB continues to represent Mr. Sidway for parish talks on Islam.


  • Orthodoxy and Islam
  • Orthodoxy in the Public Square
  • Eschatology
  • Monasticism in North America
  • Orthodoxy and the Arts
  • Photography within Orthodoxy
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