After openly proclaiming that he’s no longer an atheist, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met up with some Texas church leaders last week in an effort to learn more about their ministries and how they build community.
Now, before we get into the finer details, it’s important to note that his Zuckerberg’s trip to Texas, which included meetings with business and school leaders as well, is part of his “Year of Travel” effort to “visit and meet people in every state in the U.S. by the end of the year,” according to his Facebook page.
“My hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Recently, I’ve traveled around the world and visited many cities, and now I’m excited to explore more of our country and meet more people here.”
It’s an intriguing venture that has led some to speculate that Zuckerberg could be setting his sights on the political realm at some point (Zuckerberg’s hiring of former Obama campaign head David Plouffe only fueled that fire). Either way, the inclusion of faith leaders is noteworthy, considering Zuckerberg’s sudden openness to religion.
The social media mogul met with clergy in Waco, Texas, last week, and spent most of his time listening to what they had to say rather than speaking himself, later posting on Facebook that the ministers he met with “are helping their congregations find deeper meaning in a changing world.”
And it was a meeting that the faith leaders in attendance apparently found quite impressive.
“The clergy spoke 90 percent of the time,” Aaron Zimmerman, an priest with St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, told the Baptist News Global. “That impressed me a lot.”
Pastor John Crowder of First Baptist Church in West, Texas, said he initially assumed it would be a scenario in which Zuckerberg spoke to the pastors about his own causes, but said that the Facebook founded only ended up talking for about a minute before opening up the floor and asking questions.
“I thought he would give a speech promoting a charity or some technological innovation,” Crowder said. “He wanted to hear from us.”
Zuckerberg specifically asked how clergy and churches have come to the aid of the community after events such as the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion, how churches balance internal and external ministries and how churches form community — all intriguing questions.
As for the community question, Zimmerman said he told Zuckerberg that there are two facets included in that process: connecting a bigger group of believers to God through worship, and using smaller groups to connect individuals to one another, as the Baptist News Global reported.
After the trip, CBN News reported that Zuckerberg again took to his Facebook page to express his gratitude for the conversations he had along the way.
“Heading back home after a great few days in Texas,” he wrote. “We may come from different backgrounds, but we all want to find purpose and authenticity in something bigger than ourselves.”
As Faithwire previously reported, Zuckerberg made headlines in December when he posted a message indicating that he has abandoned atheism. The comment came after someone posted on his page, asking if he’s an atheist.
“No, I was raised Jewish, and then I went through a period where I questioned things,” he said. “But now I believe religion is very important.”
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