14 New Scientists in Congregations Projects

We are pleased to announce the details of the successful projects funded by our Scientists in Congregations scheme!

“Our Fragile Earth” – Churches in Sidmouth, Devon

The four town centre churches in Sidmouth will host open lectures on “Caring for the Ocean”, “Caring for the Atmosphere”, “Caring for the Land” and “Caring for the World” on the four Sunday evenings of October 2019. Each will be followed up in weekday discussion groups in the churches. The aim is to raise awareness of the scientific evidence of how we are changing our world, in relation to our moral choices as individuals and as church communities.

The lectures form part of the Sidmouth Science Festival, which takes place from October 5th – 13th. Further details are advertised at https://www.sidvalley.org.uk/events.htm and https://www.sidmouthsciencefestival.org/festival.”

“The Sky’s the Limit!” – Ely Cathedral Science Festival 2019, Cambridgeshire 18th May-9th June

 A spectacular science event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and explore what the future holds for humanity.  Lift up your eyes and experience the Museum of the Moon, a 7-metre diameter lunar replica hovering above the Cathedral’s nave. Come and explore the wonders of space through themed activity nights, an interactive ‘space’ exhibition, talks by leading experts including the Astronomer Royal, plus movies, art, music and an extensive schools programme.

The aim of the festival is to consider where science is taking us, exploring human futures and possibilities, with a focus on Space Exploration, Robotics, Future Technologies and Artificial Intelligence. In this 50th Anniversary year of the Moon landings, and with space programmes around the world gaining momentum (Horizon Probe, China Moon Mission, Space X), we are pleased to be working in partnership with the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and the National Space Centre. We are passionate about encouraging Christians and non-Christians alike to ask the big questions and the canvas of ‘The Sky’s the Limit!’ Science Festival gives everyone an opportunity to think about the questions that we face as a human race. We believe the festival will also bring into relief more challenging questions about our use of technology, our care for the environment, our use of resources and how we navigate an increasingly digital and technological economy whilst being mindful of those most in need.

https://www.elycathedral.org/events/ely-cathedral-science-festival-the-skys-the-limit

Granta Park – Science-Faith Lectures – Abington Church, Ely, Cambridgeshire 

Our parish includes Granta Park, one of the leading life-science parks in the Cambridge cluster.  We are planning a series of lunchtime talks by high profile scientists on big science-faith related questions. Our hope is that will attract interest from those who work at Granta –  some major companies on the campus employ over 3,000 employees.

Our plan is for the talks – to be held at the prestigious Granta Centre- to stimulate discussion and debate about the role, relevance and inter-relationship of the Christian faith with the scientific world.  We aim to challenge the myth that science and faith are incompatible.

For the first talk, Dr Denis Alexander will respond to this big question: ‘Has science buried God?’  Denis Alexander is Emeritus Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge and Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. Future speakers include Professor Russell Cowburn FRS and Professor Keith Fox. Residents of the parish will also be invited.

We hope too that this project will be of significance to the Ely diocese as a model for ministry to the many science parks that are in the diocese.

Connect@Tiviot Dale – Stockport, Manchester

Daniel Pereira, one of the project leaders, writes: “Our Scientists in Congregations project has both a challenge and a stimulus: we are going to present science to a congregation, assuming the only knowledge they have about it is the GCSE content – or less. Also, we serve a multicultural congregation with loads of Portuguese speakers. So, we are preparing content which will show God in science and nature. Both in the English language and Portuguese.

Our aim is to help Christians to view the Creator as a Creator indeed, by answering questions that our modern society presents and hopefully empower them to have a solid Christian view in a scientific society.”

Connect Methodist Church website http://cntchurch.co.uk/

The Sacrament of Science? Comprehending the wonder, mystery and awe of science in an Anglo-Catholic congregation – St. Thomas’ Church, Exeter, Devon

With the national and international range of the Met Office based in Exeter, we are in a unique position as a church to create a new and beneficial relationship with that scientific community.  Our challenge at St Thomas’s – a traditional Anglican parish – is how to relate the world and thinking of the parish (theological, liturgical, cultural) with that of the scientific community around it.  How can we cultivate a richer and deeper engagement between science and faith?

One way forward is to explore the relationship between science and sacrament.  Can we can develop some congruence between scientific thinking and the parish’s own philosophy/theology? What are points of tension and challenge between these two concepts?  Here we will build on connections provided by a parish lay leader who works at the Met Office.

This is stage one. We will use this process as a springboard for work with two other scientific locations in the university and health service.

“MES-AI Church” – Croxley Green Baptist Church, Hertfordshire

MES-AI Church aims to stimulate a dialogue on increasingly important areas of robotics and artificial intelligence in the life of local churches and their communities.  Developing from a previous “Scientists in Congregations” project – The Bible Readings Fellowship “Messy Church Does Science” – it will enable children and adults to explore the creativity of science and technology, alongside exploring what robotics and artificial intelligence might say about humanities relationship with God.

MES-AI Church is a pilot project run at Croxley Green Baptist Church led by Messy Churches Does Science’s, “Dr Dave” and members of the church involved in the IT industry.  Based around Lego MINDSTORM, a programmable form of the popular Lego Technic often used school STEM activities, in afternoon workshops shaped by Messy Church’s ethos of hospitality, creativity and celebration, families with children aged 10-13 with an interest in AI will build robots that can respond to a series of challenges. Alongside developing skills in programming and experience of the principles and potential of AI, the project will engage with theological and ethical questions that AI raises and provide a vehicle for people of all ages to explore their own faith, spirituality and engagement with God.  Material for the workshops will be published on the Bible Reading Fellowship in early 2020.

https://www.croxleybaptist.co.uk/

“Genesis for the 21st Century” – Chester Cathedral

Following a successful series of lectures on ‘Science and Faith’ in 2018, we are now planning an event at the Cathedral which will make use of liturgy and choral music to shed fresh light on the Book of Genesis and a scientific view of creation.

Michael Reiss, FRS, prominent bioethicist, educator, journalist and Anglican priest will speak on ‘Science and Religion’. He is Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education, University College, London.   Philip Moore has been commissioned to compose music to form a setting for the words of “Genesis for the 21stcentury”. This was written by renowned scientist-theologian, Revd Canon Dr Arthur Peacocke, winner of the Templeton Prize in 2001.

We will ask for feedback from those who attend and specifically find out how it affected their understanding of Creation, Science and Religion.

“Science and the Language of Prayer” – Bramhall Methodist Church, Manchester

 Science and the language of prayer is a programme of five seminars hosted at Bramhall Methodist Church in the autumn of 2019. Our aim is to explore how a modern understanding of science might influence how we think about God and, more particularly, the language we use to express our prayers. We’ve got an exciting programme of key-note speakers each prominent in a different are of science and each talking about a different aspect of prayer. After each talk we will hold workshops developing materials with which to populate our website. We hope through doing this that we will provide resources for individuals or small groups who may want to explore the themes that we have been looking at. For further details please visit our web-site at:  https://bramhallmethodists.org.uk/scienceandprayer/.

Science-faith related videos for Café Church – Amberly Baptist Church, Bristol

Revd Andrew Thomas writes: “In my opinion a deeper engagement between science and faith serves to strengthen the life and mission of Christians and their local congregations. It should serve to deepen their personal and corporate faith in several ways; instilling a sense of confidence in the credibility of their faith…This doesn’t mean they have all the answers and go and tell everyone, but rather that they are more knowledgeable on the subject and therefore better prepared for dialogue with people who are not believers. This knowledge combined with humility and courage could be an excellent springboard for revitalised churches and communities.

We plan to create a series of short videos on subjects exploring different elements of the relationship between science and the Christian faith in order to educate, provoke discussion, and inspire further engagement with the topic. The target audience is primarily Christians and guests who attend our Sunday Café Church. We are planning a series compiled of 4 videos, accompanied with discussion materials so that the videos can be watched on the big screen and then discussed in small groups.”

https://www.cafechurch.org.uk/?fbclid=IwAR1FEwsx3x8ZNI6VkuGuNUSrTUA8-vSPiBRyWgR2Z6gf-jttqYfD9Swcm7E

“One small step” – Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire

Lichfield Cathedral will mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by transforming the Cathedral’s vast nave floor into a huge visual reproduction of the moon’s surface. ‘One Small Step’ will examine the human instinct to travel, explore and discover, enabling us to reflect on one of the most significant journeys that humanity has ever undertaken. The installation – which will run from July to September– invites visitors to examine the intersection of science and faith in the context of space exploration.

Visitors and worshippers will effectively ‘walk on the moon’ when they come into the Cathedral. This extraordinary visual effect will be available free to the Cathedral’s daily visitors during the school holidays, and while the installation is in place the Cathedral’s services will take place ‘on the moon’ enabling exploration of faith and science through liturgy. The installation will also provide the setting for a series of lectures, events and activities aiming to engage congregation, schools, families and the public with questions around faith and the science of space travel and exploration.

https://www.lichfield-cathedral.org/

Saddleworth Science Faith Festival, Saddleworth Churches

The first Saddleworth Science Faith Festival will take place in the week beginning Sunday 15th September. The project will deliver Science Faith Communicators into lessons and Assemblies across Primary Schools and hopefully at least one Secondary School. There will also be a Family Science Faith Night. In addition, we hope to deliver science faith liturgies across the nine congregation congregations in the Saddleworth Anglican team churches. We will encourage a Messy Science Church session and find and encourage the Scientists in our congregations to talk about the interaction between science and faith.

We are hoping one thousand children and some of their parents will be impacted by Science Faith Communicators, and that through the Parent Assemblies there will be impact on children’s, parent’s and adult’s perceptions of a typical scientist. We are planning (and hoping) for an impact on children’s attitudes to asking questions that bridge science and faith and their personal accounts of how science and religion relate on Origins and Evolution.

Messy Church Does Science: Bible Reading Fellowship

Messy Church is part of The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF). We offer families, many of whom have never set foot in a church before, an experience of church that is suited to their needs and embraces Christ-centeredness, hospitality, creativity celebration and all-age. There are around 3,500 Messy Churches worldwide and they reach a staggering half a million people each month.

In 2017 Scientists in Congregations very kindly funded Messy Church Does Science, a project aiming to demonstrate that science and faith are complementary. It’s been a huge success with Messy Churches everywhere, so now we want to bring the concept to new audiences.

This year we’re developing Messy Church Does Science in Schools, an afterschool club for the whole family. Through it we hope to expand peoples’ horizons, encourage more families to explore science, and help build faith and scientific understanding. We’ll be working with five different schools and churches across the country, so we may be coming to an area near you soon!

https://www.messychurch.org.uk/messy-church-does-science

Living with and loving machines – Manchester Cathedral

What do our attitudes to these human-made technologies teach us about God, ourselves and relationship? Dr Scott Midson will be presenting findings from his work on love and robots in Manchester Cathedral in November and will introduce a series of films that explore what robots are, and what love is, in order to think about whether the two go together.

As rapid advances in robotics and artificial intelligence take shape, people are starting to ask about the attachments that can develop between human beings and these machines. This idea has attracted a lot of media attention particularly in recent years, for example with reports in Japan of people even marrying their virtual assistant.  From robotic assistants to robotic animals – robotic seals, for instance, are already in use in nursing homes around the world – how are we to evaluate these developments? We need to think carefully and critically about both what robots are and what love is in order to develop accurate critiques, which is the focus of this event that connects religious and philosophical ideas with technological and scientific applications.

Exploring science and technology for Christians in the 21st Century: The Application of faith to the appliance of science –  Christians and Science Interactive – Canterbury

Science is a gift, blessing and resource for the Church. CSI: Canterbury seeks to widen and deepen the engagement of science and technology within the church by running a series of talks that give an overview of contemporary science in relation to Christian faith. CSI will facilitate congregations’ engagement with contemporary science and enhance their discipleship and worship of God by understanding His creation more clearly and acting as good stewards toward it. It seeks to enable Christians of all ages, to see STEM related occupations as a positive vocation and calling.

CSI: Canterbury is organised by Perry Enever (who tutors in general science and biology as an Associate Lecturer with the Open University) and Rev Andrew Fitzgerald, the pastor of Canterbury Baptist Church)