5. Who is eligible to apply?

Published October 11, 2013 by Andrew Torrance in

The Science in Congregations Scotland programme is ecumenical, calling for proposals from any Christian congregation in Scotland who is committed to fostering a sustained, rich, generative engagement between science and faith.

Central to any successful proposal will be a pastoral leader and a science-related professional who are highly motivated to collaborate in this effort. The latter 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. Therefore, the programme is not only interested in professionals 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, 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.

The scientist must be an active participant in the life of the congregation with an existing interest and capacity for this kind of an undertaking. 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. Also, a background interest in science-faith interaction is important, as demonstrated by a well-thought-out proposal. Equally, the pastoral 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.

Because we would like, in time, to foster a deep and lasting change throughout Scotland in how Christian communities relate to the sciences, and because we can offer grants to only a very small fraction of the churches in Scotland, we are especially interested in ideas that could be taken up by other congregations without the benefit of grant support for the planning. For the same reason we are interested 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.

An official member of the pastoral staff is preferred. In instances where a project plan is particularly compelling, we will also consider individual cases where the theological / pastoral part of the team is represented by a theologically and biblically literate congregation member with a substantial record of lay leadership in the congregation. But please recognise that this is not the preferred approach. To help ensure that programmes can be implemented smoothly, such applications must be accompanied by a letter from the minister of the church expressing enthusiastic support for the plans. In instances where a member of the clergy has scientific training we still request that proposals be submitted by a team of at least two individuals; in this case the second person could either be a scientist in the congregation or a second member of the clergy.

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