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‘Take your vicar to the lab’ project launched

Large hadron collider at Cern

The Church of England (CofE) has launched a series of initiatives to foster better understanding between science and faith.

‘Take Your Vicar to the Lab’, a project run in St Albans Diocese, will promote dialogue between professionals in the fields of science, engineering, computing and mathematics and clergy and congregations.

Under the scheme, covering Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, vicars will be taken on tours of laboratories and workplaces with professionals invited in turn to speak at Sunday services and other discussion forums on science and faith.

Former chartered software engineer, St Albans Cathedral co-director of the project reverend Tim Bull said: “God is the God of the Higgs boson, just as much as the God of the church choir. Yet clergy and scientists often live as if these are separate worlds.

“This project seeks to bring the two together in dialogue so that faith can be informed by science, and science enriched by faith.”

The ‘Take Your Vicar to the Lab’ project is one of eight to receive funding of up to £10,000 in the first round of the Scientists in Congregations scheme, aimed at helping churchgoers engage confidently with science issues.

It hopes will raise the profile of Christians whose vocation is science-related, and change the debate about science and faith in churches and communities.

The grants have also included funding for St John’s Church Lindow, in Wilmslow, Cheshire, for a project co-directed by reverend Simon Gales, a former civil engineer, to have “meet the scientist” sessions, teaching presentations and visits to laboratories.

Other grants have been awarded to help fund a science festival at Ely Cathedral next year to combine science, medicine and technology; café-style discussion evenings with students and science professionals based in Baptist churches in Leeds; a family science and faith club at a Church of England parish in Oxfordshire; and a project to develop 100 scientific activities for use at Messy Church sessions for families and children.

Messy Church leaders will use science to explore aspects of the Christian faith and aim to demonstrate that faith and science are complementary.

The Cathedral, Isle of Man has also been awarded a grant to help fund a series of booklets for children and young people to explore the cathedral gardens from a science and faith perspective.

The eight new schemes have been announced as bids were opened for grants to fund a second wave of Scientists in Congregations projects with a deadline for applications of 11 November.

“Ely Cathedral, itself a marvel of medieval engineering, was built by people wanting to explore the big questions of life and seeking answers about existence and our world,” said Ely Cathedral canon and former research scientist Vicky Johnson.

“The Science Festival will help us in our mission to make Ely Cathedral a cathedral for science in the 21st century through art, music, lectures, exhibitions and experiments, worship, prayer and events for children and families.

“We hope the festival will help us connect with people in new ways and inspire the scientists of the future.”

Projects launched across the country

  • ‘Take your vicar to the lab’ – St Albans Diocese

Scientists will be invited to address CofE services and to take clergy on tours of laboratories

  • From dinosaurs to DNA – Ely Cathedral science festival

A science festival celebrating science, medicine and technology, to be hosted by the Cathedral

  • Church scientific, Leeds

Café evenings open to all in Baptist churches in Leeds, where science students and professionals from congregations across the city will give talks leading into discussion sessions

  • Confident Christian engagement with science – St John’s, Lindow, Wilmslow, Cheshire

The church is situated at the junction of the Manchester and Cheshire Science Corridors with members employed in areas including universities, teaching hospitals and the nearby Jodrell Bank Observatory. The project will include “meet the scientists” sessions, teaching presentations, a day conference, site visits to local laboratories and an essay writing competition

  • Crossing the gap - benefice of St Matthew’s, Harwell and All Saints’, Chilton, Oxfordshire

The benefice of Harwell and Chilton includes the Harwell Campus, housing the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, the Science and Technologies Facilities Council and the UK and European Space Agencies along with nearly 200 science oriented companies. The project aims to promote confidence in the compatibility of Christian faith and scientific endeavour through a family science club undertaking science activities and through a science discussion forum for adults

  • Grace church, Truro (part of the new frontiers network)

Exploring the big questions concerning science and faith through live interviews and videos of church members who work in the sciences

  • Messy Church science, bible reading fellowship

The grant will be used to develop materials to help Messy Church leaders to explore aspects of the Christian faith, demonstrating that faith and science are complementary. A book with accompanying videos will be made to promote the work

  • Cathedral, Isle of Man

The project will use church discussion groups led by scientists to produce a series of booklets for young people offering a tour of the cathedral gardens from a variety of science and faith perspectives.

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