7. What kinds of projects does “Scientists in Congregations Scotland” have in view?
Many possible projects are eligible. We are seeking creative, high-impact means of achieving the goals mentioned above, in ways that meet the criteria of merit described below. The following is simply one set of ideas and is not meant to constrain your creativity. In fact, we welcome your creative alternatives.
All projects will need to provide a way for a science-related professional to be available to assume a level of involvement in the life of a congregation that would otherwise not be possible. For some, this might mean arranging for a course reduction or some alternative plan for release time from his or her institution. The amount of time will vary according to circumstances and the activities envisioned in the proposal. Potential activities include the following:
- Minister and Scientist chart out a course of mutual exploration of one another’s field of expertise. Others from the congregation may or may not be incorporated into this exploration of theology and science. This should include a plan for impact – for example, the scientist or small group might be involved in advising during sermon preparation.
- Plan a series of seminars or conferences that will explore themes and topics relative to the interaction of science and faith and their significance for specific church related concerns. These would be congregation-based rather than being primarily for a nearby academic community, but of course they could also be used for outreach to the community.
- Develop and or teach an adult education course (or series of courses) that could become a part of the congregation’s curriculum and thus be repeated and improved over time.
- Design a series of worship services that could take place periodically over several months that bring to the foreground the way in which a scientific reading of the world relates to one that is informed by Scripture, the way in which scientific progression can help persons to live out the Christian life, and the way in which the mystery of God and the wonders of science can humbly be embraced together.
- Develop a library of up-to-date books, articles, audio-visual resources. This could be a library that occupies a space in the church building, or it may be entirely web based. A plan for impact, how it will be used in the near and longer term and the difference it would make for the congregation is, of course, needed.
- Create a book group that could involve laypersons who want to engage science and faith issues at a higher level. For example, this could take the form of a Bible study that looks at how Scripture can be read in harmony with a scientific vision of the world. It could also involve a study that looks at the historical relationship between science and faith – considering, in particular, some of the unhelpful moves that both scientists and Christian leaders have made to distance their respective vocations from one another. Furthermore, it could also look at how some of the key historical figures in both science and faith have sought to hold the two together. (Any study of the history between faith and science will need to be directly relevant for a contemporary understanding of the relationship between faith and science).
- Develop materials on the relationship between science and faith that could be incorporated into a confirmation class for youth.
Again, these ideas are intended to spark imagination, not constrain it. We anticipate that the particularities of the individuals and congregations involved will bring forth an interesting and creative array of activities and outcomes we could not possibly envision. What is most important is the potential for wide-ranging impact, and the possibility of the programme’s activities leading to enduring change.
For further inspiration, please see the list of the awarded congregations from the Scientists in Congregations programme in the United States and Canada.