Scientists in Congregations

Exploring the landscape of Faith and Reason in Scotland

One of the biggest obstacles facing churches in Scotland is the public assumption that there is a serious tension or essential incompatibility between Christian faith and modern science. At the same time, there have been few issues in recent years that have prompted as much public curiosity and interest in Christianity than questions of science and faith.SiC

By developing projects that engage with questions of science, the funded churches are creating a conversation that is stimulating not only for the congregation but also for the surrounding
community. By so doing, they are establishing a context where they can repudiate the myth that science has made the Church redundant and, at the same time, demonstrate that the Church is a centre for meaningful intellectual dialogue.

In the midst of this conversation, there is incredible potential for the gospel to be proclaimed in ways that could prove highly fruitful for the mission of the churches in Scotland.

Scientist in Congregations

Scientists in Congregations, Scotland is a new grant programme, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, that will explore the interface of contemporary faith and science, and seek to foster a much deeper and better-informed conversation between scientists, clergy and congregations.

To do so it is supporting churches across Scotland, from a range of denominations, to develop (just under) two-year projects that will excite and facilitate constructive engagement between the church and the scientific world.

Global challenge faced in local context

Following the Scientists in Congregations programme in the United States and Canada, the Scottish programme calls for a sustained, creative collaboration between practitioners in the fields of science and pastoral leaders who are already engaged with one another through shared participation in the life of a congregation. The purposes of this effort include the following:

  • To identify existing resources of congregations in Scotland and to stimulate conditions for a sustained, rich, generative engagement between science and faith.
  • To provide ministers with the means to call scientists into a sustained collaboration that would enrich a scientist’s engagement with theology and a theologian’s engagement with science, and their shared participation in church life and leadership.
  • To develop a range of locally grown models of how Scottish congregations can engage questions of science and faith in ways that are spiritually enriching and intellectually stimulating, and to find ways of encouraging other congregations to also implement, and improve on these models.
  • To mediate into congregational life many of the existing resources, as well as those now under development, that are intended to cultivate a generative encounter between science and faith in the life of congregations.
  • To help overcome the wider social issues which grow out of the troubling ways in which some Christian communities relate to science.