ST&F Committee Co-chair, Dr. Robert Schneider, and Committee member, The Rev. Canon Johnnie Ross, met with two committees of the Executive Council during its meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, 13-16 June. They introduced "A Catechism of Creation" and answered questions about it. And on behalf of the ST&F Committee, they proposed a resolution commending the Catechism to the Episcopal Church for use in a variety of settings.
Resolution NAC 027/CIM 035, approved June 16, 2005, "commends to the Church the Catechism of Creation produced by the Committee on Science, Technology and Faith for study in parish education and faith formation classes, Episcopal schools, diocesan and parish workshops, vacation Bible programs, summer camps, retreats, and other programs." The Catechism (English language) can be downloaded at www.episcopalchurch.org/19021_64322_ENG_HTM.htm . A Spanish translation is being prepared.
What is science and what is religion? When we contemplate scientific
theory is it necessary to reject the theology of the Church? What does
it mean to be created in the image of God, while at the same time
contemplating the scientific evidence of the human existence that
appears in the fossil record? When it comes to matters of science and
religion must it be an either/or, rejecting one in favor of the other?
Or is it possible for a faithful Christian to consider a both/and
situation, a place where theory and theology can coexist without
diminishing one's faith or compromising the pursuit of scientific truth?
These are just a few of the question explored by bishops, priests, deacons, youth and the adult lay leadership who attended the Episcopal Youth Event held at Berea College, July 26-31. It was my joy and pleasure to present this event, entitled "Theory and Theology--Science and the Christian Faith," all the moreso, since I am a 1980 graduate of Berea College.
I used the story of my personal struggle to reconcile the teachings of science with my personal faith. In three sessions, so as to limit attendance at each to 25, we had an overflow crowd each day. Everyone who attended was extremely open to discussing matters of faith and science, offering more light than heat.
When I introduced "A Catechism of Creation," someone asked me, "So, how do you discuss these difficult issues of faith without losing your friends?" "Now that's the rub," I responded, "but the best way I've found to do this is to first convince people just how much they are genuinely loved, because when people are assured of the other's love, disagreement doesn't have to act as a wedge to drive you apart, but a glue to strengthen bonds of affection that already exist."
I told them that some of my very best friends hold opinions different from mine on a number of issues. My wife and I don't always agree on everything, yet she and my good friends know of the love I hold for them, and I know of the love they hold for me, and this love allows us to disagree and yet continue in a relationship.
At the end of the three-day event, I received an email from a participant about the work of the ST&F Committee saying, "My first reading [of the Catechism] suggests that the Church would be wise to establish such a...position [that] reconciles the teachings of Christianity with the scientific evidence...." This seemed to be the feeling of those attending the workshop, and the Catechism was very well received with many participants taking more than one copy back to their home dioceses.
The 2005 Ecumenical Roundtable met last April at Ghost Ranch, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hosted by the Presbyterian Association for Science, Technology and the Christian Faith, the delegation of the Presbyterian Church (USA), reports from each delegation were received in the plenary session on 10 April. Highlights of the Episcopal Church delegation's report included the following:
Above, the Episcopal delegation to the 2005 Ecumenical Roundtable, in the Ghost Ranch sculpture garden.
Front row, l to r: Susan Youmans (ST&F Cmte, Network Board), John Keggi (Genesis awardee, Ntwk Bd), Barbara Smith-Moran (ST&F Cmte, Ntwk Bd), Bob Schneider (ST&F Cmte), David Bailey (Ntwk Bd), Paul Julienne (ST&F Cmte).
Back row, l to r: Sandra Michael (ST&F Cmte, Network Convener), Bonnie Anderson (Executive Cmte), Norm Faramelli (ST&F Cmte), Phina Borgeson (Ntwk Bd), Tom Lindell (ST&F Cmte), Johnnie Ross (ST&F Cmte), Stephen Stray (ST&F Cmte), Nan Cobbey (Assoc. Ed., Episcopal Life), John Miers (ST&F Cmte), Jim Jordan (ST&F Cmte, Ntwk Bd).
Inset: The Rev. Sr. Claire Lofgren, O.S.H., S.O.Sc. (Ntwk Bd). Absent: Neil James (ST&F Cmte)
The Ecumenical Working Group on Faith and Genetics, sponsored by the Diocese of Massachusetts, has published the findings of its year-long study of the science of sexual behavior.
Observing that churches in contemporary America continue to struggle with attitudes and mores concerning sexual behavior, particularly in humans and most especially in homosexual humans, the members of the Working Group felt that much of the difficulty results from resistance to augmenting traditional religious understandings of animal and human nature with modern scientific insights. In an effort to ease the struggle, the Working Group adopted the following mission statement:
[The following announcement, written on 3/14/05 for Episcopal News Service, is reprinted by permission.]
[ENS] Seeking to widen coverage of intersections of faith and the sciences, the Episcopal News Service today launches a new online forum titled "FEAST: Faith, Environment, Action, Science, Technology" which can be found at: FEAST.
The online forum will take initial shape throughout Eastertide 2005, with new packets of reporting posted every Monday through the upcoming liturgical season, and continue with breaking news and occasional features thereafter.
Central to the coverage will be the work of several Episcopal Church Center offices and committees/commissions of General Convention, as well as projects taken up by congregations, dioceses, and church provinces.
The coverage includes a call for people of faith to "grow in understanding," one of four themes currently guiding the work of the Episcopal Church's Office of Communication (see full complement).
Environmental protection and sustainability is further supported in numerous of the church's liturgical expressions, which will also be highlighted within the online forum. Underscoring the importance of individual and corporate responsibility for preserving the abundance of God's creation, the online forum will also echo the familiar liturgical response: "Therefore, let us keep the FEAST."
For this feature, we invite our members to introduce themselves with short biographies. Please send your own bio-sketch to the Editor. We will include your email address unless you specify otherwise.
I earned a PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University in 1987. After a brief stint on the Cornell CS Department faculty, I became a researcher at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California. When Hewlett-Packard spun off its measurement and instrumentation businesses in 2000 as Agilent Technologies, I elected to go with the spin-off. Currently I am a Master Scientist at Agilent Laboratories, Agilent's applied research arm.
My research focuses on creating algorithms for making automated decisions from physical measurements. Examples include: automatically determining the causes of failure in a particular piece of electronics, algorithms for determining manufacturing quality based on X-ray images, and processing measurements from distributed, networked sensors for such applications as environmental monitoring.
From 2001 to May 2005, I was a student at the School for Deacons in Berkeley, CA. Since 2003, much of my field education work involved care for those who lost their jobs in the Silicon Valley technology business crash of 2001-2002. For example, I co-facilitated a support group for long-term Silicon Valley unemployed. (More about that ministry can be found in my diocesan newspaper, The Mission Bell (see page 3). Now, I do more one-on-one pastoral care for the technology business unemployed. This is because mass layoffs have declined but technology companies continue steadily to move jobs from Silicon Valley to the Far East.
I was ordained deacon on June 17, 2005. I am serving at Trinity Cathedral in San Jose . There I coordinate the outreach programs and oversee the Lay Eucharistic Ministers.
My interests in Science, Technology, and Faith revolve around questions like: What are and will be the ethical dilemmas and social effects of emerging technologies? How can we formulate and put into action Christian responses to the dilemmas and the negative effects in a timely manner? I can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Above, Lee Barford
I have been at the National Institutes of Health since 1968, when I came as a Management Intern. I have worked as a grants management specialist, budget officer, administrative officer, management analyst, science policy specialist, and the Director of the Office of Diversity and Employee Advocacy Programs in the National Institute of Mental Health. Currently I am in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management as the Senior Advisor for Disability Issues.
I have served on the board of St. Luke's House, a halfway house in Montgomery County for persons with mental illness; and I was a member of the Montgomery County Commission for People with Disabilities for six years, including one year as Vice Chair. I now serve as the Chair of the Commission on Employees with Disabilities of the Department of Health and Human Services, and I convene the Task Force on Accessibility and Special Needs for the Diocese of Washington. I have published an essay for parents entitled "So Your Child Has Epilepsy Ð So Do I!" For the national church, I am a member of the Executive Council's Committee on Science, Technology and Faith. In my parish, I am a member of both the singing and the bell choirs.
I can be reached by email at Johngmiers@comcast.net.
Why not print out Science, Technology and Faith Network brochures for your parish or cathedral tract-rack. Help spread the word to those who wonder how Christian faith interacts with developments in science and technology. There is a real hunger among Episcopalians to be able to ask important questions about faithful living within contemporary society. The Network welcomes questioners.
The Network brochure is available both in Spanish and in English versions, as pdf files (Acrobat Reader required).