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9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)
July 24th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

As the controversy over Chick-fil-A’s founder publicly opposing same-sex marriage continues - Mike Huckabee is pushing for a Chick-fil-A day, while the Jim Henson Co. is cutting ties to the chain - we’re republishing our list of 10 other religious companies.

Our initial list was provoked by an earlier Chick-fil-A/same-sex marriage controversy. Is our list missing any names? Tweet us at @CNNBelief to let us know.

Here are 10 well-known companies that don't make religious products - we're not talking kosher foods manufacturer Manischewitz here - but that nonetheless take their religious sides seriously (listed in no particular order).

1. Forever 21. The young women’s clothing company may be best known for its skimpier and saucier offerings, but it also exudes subtle piety. The words John 3:16 – a citation of a biblical verse popular among evangelical Christians - appears at the bottom of its stores' shopping bags. A spokeswoman for the company told The New York Sun that the message is a "demonstration of the owners' faith."

2. Tom’s of Maine. After launching the natural home products company in 1970 with his wife Kate, CEO Tom Chappell nearly left it to pursue full-time Christian ministry. While receiving a master's at Harvard Divinity School, however, a professor advised him to just treat his business as ministry. “He began bringing in different spiritual leaders to talk to the board about how they could use spiritual principles to run the company,” says the Tyson Center's Neal. Beyond environmentalism, the company seeks to "create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience, and hope."

3. Tyson Foods, Inc. The world's largest chicken company employs a team of chaplains who minister to employees at production facilities and corporate offices. Other corporations contract out such services, but it’s rare for a company to keep chaplains on the payroll.

"The chaplains provide compassionate pastoral care and ministry to team members and their families," according to Tyson's website, "regardless of their religious or spiritual affiliation or beliefs."

Tyson recently gave money to launch the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas, one of the first academic centers of its kind.

4. Hobby Lobby. The privately held chain of more than 450 arts and crafts stories isn't shy about its Christian orientation. "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles," reads the company's mission statement. "We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured."

The company supports a slate of Christian interests, from Oral Roberts University to the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, and is known for taking out overtly religious newspaper ads around the holidays.

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5. ServiceMaster. Never heard of this corporation? Perhaps some of the residential services companies it owns, like Terminix and American Home Shield, will ring a bell.

The company was founded in 1929 by Marion E. Wade, who "had a strong personal faith and a desire to honor God in all he did," according to ServiceMaster's website. "Translating this into the marketplace, he viewed each individual employee and customer as being made in God's image - worthy of dignity and respect."

The company, formerly public but recently taken over by a private equity firm, still consciously tries to "do the right thing in the way that employees treat customers," says Theodore Malloch, who leads Yale University's Spiritual Capital Initiative. "It's a theological statement about servant leadership - think of the picture of Christ washing the feet of his disciples."

6. Herman Miller. The Michigan-based furniture manufacturer's founders were steeped in the Reformed Protestant tradition. "It retains a lot of that in practices that revolve around a notion of respecting the dignity of the human person and a strong environmental ethic that grew out of the religious responsibility," says Yale's Malloch. Indeed, Herman Miller - perhaps most famous for its Aeron chair - prides itself on environmental philanthropy and on regularly appearing on Fortune's annual list of best companies to work for.

7. Interstate Batteries. The car battery giant has a "self-avowed religious identity and is very open in their God talk" in internal training and communication, says Lake Lambert III, author of Spirituality, Inc. Former company president Norm Miller moved to the role of chairman to allow more time to address Christian audiences. Miller talks to those "interested in how he found the truth of Christianity," the company's website says, "and how he learned to effectively apply biblical principles to create a more successful business." Interstate employs its own chaplain.

8. In-N-Out Burger. Chick-fil-A is hardly the only fast-food outfit to make its founders' religious leanings part of its recipe. Western U.S. burger chain In-N-Out has printed citations of Bible passages on cups, wrappers and other pieces of packaging since at least the late 1980s. For instance, "John 3:16" appears on the bottom of soft drink cups, a reference to the Bible passage, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Read more on In-N-Out's religious side at Eatocracy, CNN's food blog.

9. Walmart. Treat this one as an honorable mention. Lambert says the Walton family, which founded the company and still own a major stake in it, has used Christian servant leadership models in building the world's largest retailer. And the company's Arkansas roots helped sensitize it to the shopping habits of churchgoers. It helps explain why Walmart long carries the kind of Christian books that were once the exclusive province of Christian bookstores. "You don’t find those kinds of things in J.C. Penney," Lambert says. But Walmart has been so successful with such material that it's now become a business threat to Christian booksellers.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey is a Buddhist. Whole Foods Global Public Relations Director Kate Lowery says that Mackey has never been a Buddhist. “John does not fit into any traditional religious category,” she said in an e-mail message.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Missionaries

soundoff (2,481 Responses)
  1. Who Cares?!

    Who cares if a burger joint has a scripture on a cup? Is the food good? Will you get sick if you eat it? Is it reasonably priced? Just because someone is a Christian and owns a company, doesn't mean anything. Google gave money to support a LGBT, Bill Gates gave money to Aids research, a shop in south Georgia gives money to the KKK; It's their money, it is their choice what and who they support! If people don't like it, they can close their eyes,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      I care, for one. And I sure hope people who support racial equality don't frequent that shop in Georgia that you mentioned.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • TJustSaying

      To be honest a Christian does not concern herself with such petty things. They have faith in God to make things right. Unless that company is attacking me or mine personally I really could give a damn. Some indirect associations really are not a direct concern. Go to Alabama and you will see Blacks frequent businesses where they joke probably give money to the KKK. The thing is they have an existence that is not contingent upon the destruction of the KKK. As long as the KKK is not stringing up and killing Blacks I think Blacks have found out that the best way to fight the KKK is by doing well.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      Then that makes Christians foolish. Kinda goes pretty well with my current world-view, so, uh, thanks?

      February 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • TJustSaying

      No Steve I think you miss the point entirely. The faith of true Christians give them strength. No more then you feel the need to swat at a gnat flying near your feet is the same as these Christians feel. There is no greater torture you can put upon a bully then to ignore him. I have seen self proclaimed KKK members posting on minority blogs. When you have your enemy feeling he cannot survive without you then you have already won and there is nothing left but piety for him. Hard to claim superiority when you purposely seek out those inferior minorities just to share your feelings with. What happened to the White only society free of minorities?

      See the power of Christ can do that make your enemies adore your company.

      February 8, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      And I'm fairly sure you're missing my point. Let me just make this VERY CLEAR.

      I DON'T CARE ABOUT FINDING SOME KIND OF VENGEANCE ON THE BULLY IN THESE SITUATIONS. I ONLY WANT TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR THE OPPRESSED.

      Vengeance and eternal torture is something that you Christy-kids care about. I just want to get people thinking logically, so that life gets better for all of us.

      February 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  2. Mattias

    I hope Obama´s & Pope´s National Sunday Law gets signed! Sunday should be day of rest. America is a Christian country, whether you like it or not.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      That would be a great thing to say, if it were even remotely true. You may find this interesting:

      "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

      That's from the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli. Stop trying to spread lies about my country, please.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • sassypants

      Amazing Steve – As we learned from the current adiminstration and the last Congress, incompetence sometimes creeps its way into the system. This is one treaty and it does not in any way wipe out the truth about the history of our country and our founding principles.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      Which history are you talking about? The one where we totally had the Pope as our first president and banned all non-Christians, or the one with Separation of Church and State and where "In God We Trust" wasn't our motto until the 1950s?

      February 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      Oh, and you might be interested in this little chunk of quotes that ijreilly posted a bit earlier. Thanks, guy!

      (from jreilly)
      The United States is not a Christian nation.–>'Washington revealed almost nothing to indicate his spiritual frame of mind, hardly a mark of a devout Christian. In his thousands of letters, the name of Jesus Christ never appears. He rarely spoke about his religion, but his Freemasonry experience points to a belief in deism."-"Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."-Thomas Jefferson-"My parents had given me betimes religions impressions, and I received from my infancy a pious education in the principles of Calvinism. But scarcely was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after having doubted in turn of different tenets, according as I found them combated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself."-Benjamin Franklin- "Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. " -Thomas Paine.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • sassypants

      AmazingSteve – this is one of my favorites from George Washington:

      "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible."

      A Portion of George Washington's personal prayers:

      “O Most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ, my merciful and loving Father; I acknowledge and confess my guilt in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of my sins, but so coldly and carelessly that my prayers are become my sin, and they stand in need of pardon.”
      “ I have sinned against heaven and before Thee in thought, word, and deed. I have contemned Thy majesty and holy laws. I have likewise sinned by omitting what I ought to have done and committing what I ought not. I have rebelled against the light, despising Thy mercies and judgment, and broken my vows and promise. I have neglected the better things. My iniquities are multiplied and my sins are very great. I confess them, O Lord, with shame and sorrow, detestation and loathing and desire to be vile in my own eyes as I have rendered myself vile in Thine. I humbly beseech Thee to be merciful to me in the free pardon of my sins for the sake of Thy dear Son and only Savior Jesus Christ who came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me.”

      "Make me to know what is acceptable in Thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith, and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life, ..."
      [from a 24 page authentic handwritten manuscript book dated April 21-23, 1752]

      Sounds like a man of faith to me!!

      February 8, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      I'm not denying that George Washington was a religious man (although I think that is in at least some dispute among historians), or even that he got some kind of inspiration from your bible. All that I'm saying is that America was not founded as a religious nation. Many of the more religious members of government back then actually thought that to allow government and religion to mix would corrupt religion itself.

      Look, if you want a theocracy, I suggest some of the countries in the Middle East. The ones that seem to do so much exploding. Leave mine alone.

      February 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  3. Jenn

    Jesus is God! We all love him (L)

    February 7, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  4. Matthew

    God Bless all Christians. Jesus Christ our beloved is with us!

    February 7, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  5. Matthew

    God Bless all Christians and Jesus is always with us!

    February 7, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  6. sassypants

    CNN is behaving like the KKK. It's your, true colors shining through.. it's your truuue colors, that's why I can't stand you! Look in the mirror.. don't be afraid.. cuz you'll reap what you sow on another day!

    God knows!

    February 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      I doubt that the KKK would be as universally reviled if all they did was point out who the black people were.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • sassypants

      Amazing Steve – it's the motivation behind it. Hate.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      I really couldn't care less about motivation. It's what they end up doing that actually matters. That's a lot harder to twist to your own personal beliefs, anyway.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • sassypants

      Read my words above Amazing Steve! YOU will reap what you sow!

      February 8, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      So... logic?

      Yay!

      February 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  7. TJustSaying

    The belief blog is nothing of the sort. I see more stories putting down Christianity then anything else. I have yet to see one, count them one story about the missionary works of the Catholic church. I have not seen them talk about the work of religious organizations in Africa, India, China, Vietnam, Brazil, Mexico, and so on. I have not seen a story of the bible and a debate about the meaning of it.

    But this attack was foretold in the Bible itself. It was foretold that man would attack religion deny the existence of God and eventually make it hell on earth for any Christian refusing to deny God. Now when I say attack I mean constant mocking of and belittling of people or organizations who openly believe in God. Do not blame the liberal left or CNN for this attack blame Christians who have sat silently while people have reduced a belief in God to mere fantasy. Do not blame the dog who bites you but blame the owner failed to raise him.

    When Men of God are silent those who put self ahead of God will take hold. This mockery is happening not because of CNN, liberal organizations, or some misguided blogger, but rather the silence of those that claim to be loyal to God. So I look in the mirror for blame for the the sad state of Christ in the hearts of man.

    You will not see a expose on liberal businesses, Jewish businesses, or even Muslim ones because that is not PC in our current society. But to bagger to death Christian establishments have become fashion something as recent as 60 years ago would be unheard of. And the blame for this can be put squarely at the fault of Christians who have forgotten to speak God's word, live God's word, and stand firm when being rebuked for believing in God's word.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Dave

      Maybe, just maybe. these 'values' and the support of Christianity by many (and dropping) were not done out of belief.

      I firmly believe that adherence to faith was promoted by society and one was punished if they did not believe. It isn't that less people believe- it is that they are not being forced to any more.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • TJustSaying

      There were those who forced a belief in Christ at one time. But that stopped along time ago. Short of saying if you do not believe something bad will happen then I do not think you can say people were forced. If before you could get a job you had to say what church you went to I would say you have a point. At one time religion tried to regulate belief through laws and they were wrong. Now the pendalum has swung the other way and this too is wrong. But if people were believing God because of what they in their heat believed then the state of religion would be stronger. Look up the most peaceful societies in the world and I can bet you they have a belief in God as their central theme.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Dave

      I'm sorry, but everywhere I see societies modeled around God, Allah, Yahweh, I see corruption, intolerance and bigotry.

      Examples: Israel. Pakistan. Iran. Uganda.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • TJustSaying

      Sorry Dave I think you did not understand my statement. Buddhist, Jahova Witnesses, Mormon, and Bahi are relatively peaceful religion societies. I give you a seemingly easy quest name A peaceful Atheist society. If we put up number of those murdered in the name of God versus the name of man I do not think you will like what we find. I think you will find those murdered in the name of God cannot touch those murdered because of man. You pray for a Godless society I pray you never get your wish.

      February 8, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      It's unlikely you would ever have a declared atheistic country that actually espoused the values of atheism, since atheism is mere lack of religion. If, however, you think of your question as asking for secular countries (ie, no state religion), many examples come to mind. The US would be my personal favorite, but you could also list Canada and most of Europe. You know, all the places where people don't regularly explode themselves or starve.

      The countries you're thinking of as declared atheistic (North Korea comes to mind) have very little in common with the atheists you will find on this board, and instead tend to elevate their leader(s) to some kind of god-status, ruling by cult of personality. I don't think they really get it.

      February 9, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  8. joe

    Walmart?...

    February 7, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  9. Terry W. Brookman

    Tyson is the biggest polluter in Arkansas and I don't believe there is a company in the world that promotes real Christianity. Tyson gave big time to Bill Clinton to get him to look the other way on pollution. Processing millions of chickens creates millions of pounds of organic waste, waste that is very toxic.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  10. Billy in NC

    I give away food to anyone I choose. Thank You Jesus for providing more enough food so that I can give some away to others who need it.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  11. Osti

    Ummmm yeah god is fake and his existence is perpetuated by these conglomerated companies... Earth to America.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  12. TheRationale

    I bet all of the literary-symbolism junkies thought it wasn't ironic that, while JC Penny was mentioned, it wasn't for it's Christian-ness. Subtlety...subtlety...

    February 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • TheRationale

      *was
      *was ironic

      dang...I have to be better at typing...

      February 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  13. Alex

    PS: no more WalMart purcheses is checked

    February 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  14. Michael

    Its quite interesting that Tyson (the #1 religious company on the list) would knowingly and willingly hire thousands of illegal aliens to work in their factories. Its kind of like ministering in poor countries. They are vulnerable. I would have to question the religious intent of this company when they are breaking the law to start with.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • sassypants

      I'm sure that like many people they actually thought they were helping not hurting. Tyson was also the first company to clean up their act!

      February 7, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  15. Timmy

    Now I know what companies to avoid. Thanx CNN.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Steve

      Why??? What could possess you to have such a hatred for people of faith??? It would seem that you really know they are right about it but cannot bring yourself to admit you have been wrong all your life. You know God is calling your name- You feel it in your heart and mind. Why not just admit you need Him and release all that anger that you have been holding inside. You have been hurt, no doubtm so why carry it anymore? Let go of the hurt- He loves you that is why He died for you- Let it all go.

      February 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Dave

      It's not hate, Steve. It's about not supporting companies that bring religion where it should not be, into commerce and politics.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • sassypants

      Unfortunately, you would be denying our religious rights to run our businesses and lives in accordance with biblical principle.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Don

      Not patronizing a business is not violating your rights, little girl.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • sassypants

      You are correct Don. I misread before commenting. Anyone who feels the need to call someone else little must themselves be feeling pretty small. Are we suffering from the Napoleon complex?

      February 8, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  16. david

    As long as we are singling out companies that are based on their Christian faith, let's show some equality in reporting and report on companies that are based on their Jewish or Islamic faith.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      I wouldn't be in the slightest opposed to seeing a list of companies that tout any explicitly religious message. Your implied argument might suffer, though.

      February 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Justin W.

      I agree. I feel a bias.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • sassypants

      Yes, I worked in a muslim owned company. The nepotism runs rampant – not to mention you just have nothing in common with some people.

      February 8, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      I'm not sure you understand exactly what nepotism means... but I suppose that's fairly irrelevant. Something else comes to mind, though:

      How do you think I, as an atheist, would feel in any of these "good God-fearin' " companies when they had their silly prayers over a vat of chicken-paste? Do you think I would get promoted if I refused to participate? Do you think I would feel like an accepted member of the company?

      February 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  17. mac316

    whatever business it is it is their business and none of our business if these companies practice a faith or not. if you dont like their beliefs or their practices concerning religion then here is what you do DONT PATRONIZE THEIR STORES OR GOODS. WHAT freeking difference does it make , because they are big corporations?? here is another option GROW YOUR OWN what a bunch of knuckleheads

    February 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      Practicing faith and actively spreading faith, along with donating to causes that the faithless (read: logical) are opposed to are very different things.

      I don't give two saviors what the founders of a business believe, but when they start assaulting other people with it, I have a problem. What would YOU do if these businesses donated to the KKK, or Al Quaeda?

      February 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • TJustSaying

      When Christian businesses start trying to kill or blow up Gays I will stop going to them. Unless you are saying these organizations want to harm Gays then stop with the exaggerations.

      February 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      They want to deny them the right to marry, and I'm sure if they could get away with it they'd love to blow them up. There was a time when the prevailing opinion was that black folk shouldn't be allowed to marry, and I'll bet I can tell you which side organizations like the KKK were on. Now we have a new group of marginalized people, and a new group of bigots. Same thing, different name.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • sassypants

      AmazingSteve – Your bitterness ain't so amazing!

      February 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      sassypants – neither is your inability to have a real discussion, instead of engaging in silly and off-topic ad hominems!

      February 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • sassypants

      AmazingSteve – your ability to discuss ain't so amazing either!

      February 8, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      Look kid, either have an actual discussion with me, or leave me, and the rest of this board, alone. I'm not interested in trading insults with a 12-year-old.

      February 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  18. Frank

    What exactly is a "religious" company? Hey CNN, how bout showcasing companies run by atheists or those with an agnostic or deist bent? Is a Mormon "religious?" How about a Muslim? How about a Bhuddist? Is Ted Turner an atheist? How about Jane Fonda?

    February 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Calvin

      Its just that CNN hates Christians. And they will remove my post for speaking truth.

      February 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      I can help here! A religious company is one that specifically promotes a religious message, like Chick-fil-A, or the other companies in this list. Religious preference of the owner(s) doesn't matter unless they take it upon themselves to spread their nonsense.

      February 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  19. The Veteran

    God talk is good, but looking like Christ is better. Persecution and condemnation are not Christian principles. They are Pharisee principles. Just because you say you are Christian, does not mean that you are.

    February 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • tim Ricard

      yes, so true.

      February 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  20. Kathy from no VA

    When u realize one day that Jesus is God and came that we might have everlasting life, you will never ever be the same. His love is like no other John 3:16-17

    February 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      You truly will never be the same. For example, you'll stop being able to have rational conversations and instead fall back on a book written over 2000 years ago. Relevant!

      February 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Calvin

      Thank you, Kathy. But CNN hates Christians.

      February 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • sassypants

      Amen!!

      February 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.