Changing the conversation between the church and the scientific world
‘This programme seeks to help churches develop a deeper engagement with science, theologically, pastorally or in mission. Projects must be locally based and demonstrate high-level support from church leadership, and involve science professionals.’
BACKGROUND TO ‘SCIENTISTS IN CONGREGATIONS’
The Templeton-funded Equipping Religious Leaders in an Age of Science is an ecumenical project based at the University of Durham. Our aim is to change attitudes within the church and, thereby, positively to influence the public conversation about the science-religion relationship. We are working closely, too, with the Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council’s Mission and Public Affairs Division in Westminster.
Scientists in Congregations, England, will play a crucial role in extending and deepening the impact of our programme. We are building on the success of similar schemes in the USA, Canada, and, most recently, Scotland. Unique to our scheme is a commitment to working with bishops and other senior church leaders across mainstream denominations, together with mainstream Christian parachurch organizations, such as Evangelical Alliance. Together we will identify and support projects designed to enhance the science-theology awareness of congregations.
Projects supported by this programme have the potential to catalyse a new willingness on the part of Christian communities to engage with the intellectual side of our culture. By developing projects that engage with questions of science, churches will have the opportunity to create a conversation that is stimulating not only for the congregation but also for the surrounding community. This venture is at the cutting edge of contemporary apologetic engagement.
WHAT TYPE OF PROJECTS?
Projects must be new with a start date and a proposed end date. We do not provide grants for existing schemes.
We are looking for projects that enable local groups of Christians to build confidence in science, see it as a gift and affirm the work of scientists within their congregational context.
We are looking to create a cascade effect – for projects to be inspirational, adaptable and adoptable in future by congregations who may not have funding.
We are interested, therefore, in a wide range of ideas which are potentially valuable for large or small congregations, rural or urban groups, for churches in university towns and for those with very few scientists among them.
Along with previously funded projects found here, further examples can be found on the Scottish Scientists in Congregations website: http://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/scientistsincongregationsscotland/churches/, and the U.S site http://www.scientistsincongregations.org/.
Please note that these sites reflect two different national contexts for the science-religion encounter. We are looking, similarly, for ideas which reflect the contexts, interests, abilities, ministerial and missional concerns of the proposing teams.
We will be more open to project bids where there is the commitment to match the amount of the grant should it be made available.
Projects must be proposed by professional practitioners in the fields of science and church leaders who are already engaged with one another through shared participation in the life of a congregation. If a group of churches get involved there only needs to be one established relationship between minister and scientist in place as the foundation for a bid.
We are committed to the dissemination of good and innovative projects across congregations in England. For this reason, senior leaders of the denomination within which a given church or group of churches is located (diocesan or area bishops, Methodist District Chairs and so on) must be fully briefed about and actively supportive of the proposal. Without this active senior level leadership support and awareness we will not consider a bid.
The church leader and science-related professional must be highly motivated to collaborate in this effort. For this reason, it is important that bids be such that they will sustain the interest of both parties.
The science specialist could be a scientist, a philosopher of science, an historian of science at a local college or university, a scientist working in industry, a doctor, or a secondary school science teacher who holds at least an undergraduate degree in the natural, human or social sciences.
The ‘Scientists in Congregations’ project reaches beyond those with a background in physics, chemistry and biology. It is also interested in professionals with expertise in the areas of medicine, psychology, scientific study of human behaviour, engineering science, scientific study of religion, and a range of human and social scientific approaches to questions that hit upon human nature, culture, and traditional theological topics.
Participants are not expected to be world-class scientists, or even experts on issues of science and faith, but do need an understanding of what science is, how it works and an ability to engage and evaluate the kind of popular science literature most fellow congregants use, often uncritically, to learn of the subject.
Equally, the church leader will need to demonstrate an existing interest in the integration of science and faith, even if he or she has not pursued that interest in any measurable way before now.
Please communicate via email email@example.com for all correspondence.