As you have likely heard by now, UBC has been awarded a grant from the John Templeton Foundation under the program “Scientists in Congregations”. The grant begins this fall and continues through the spring of 2013. The purpose of the grant is to encourage conversations within congregations about issues that overlap science and religion. The grant requires that there be two administrators – the Pastor (Tommy Faris) and a Scientist (Kerry Cheesman). Together these two will coordinate the work of the grant and the many people who will participate in its programs.
So what, exactly, is this all about? The basic concept is that scientists (including science educators and graduate students in the sciences) will select topics of current interest and will write short papers on the topics. Papers will be written for non-scientific persons (ie: the rest of the congregation) to read and understand. Kerry will edit each of these to assure consistency and readability. Tommy will then write a theological perspective on each topic, to be merged with the scientific perspective. Each paper (both halves) will be posted on the UBC website for members of the congregation to read and think about.
Starting in early 2012, monthly workshops will be held at a regular time (for instance, the first Wednesday evening of each month, although these dates have not yet been set). Each month a topic will be selected and announced, and interested members (and others we hope) will read the scientific and theological perspectives on the topic. The monthly workshop will be a discussion of the topic, including how the two perspectives complement and/or detract from each other. Each workshop will be led by the writers of the material.
The hope of the Templeton Foundation (and Tommy and Kerry) is that healthy discussions will occur around each topic, and that all will come away from the workshops better informed about contemporary scientific issues that intersect with our Christian faith.
This is an exciting and adventuresome project. Please plan to be a part of these discussions as we seek to learn from each other this coming year.