The Episcopal Church Network for Science, Technology & Faith Newsletter
Vol. 5-1 Feast of Pentecost 4 June, 2006


Contents
ST&F pioneer Peter Arvedson receives 2006 Genesis Award
Catechism of Creation wins Episcopal Communicators' "Award of Excellence"
Episcopal Delegation's report to Ecumenical Roundtable
ST&F at General Convention: Will you be there?
Bp. Katharine Jefferts Schori on the origins of life
Primate of Australia challenges "scientific imperative"
Report from the Network's April Steering Board meeting
"What's the ID hubbub?"--forum at Ascension, NYC
Catechism of Creation goes to seminary
Poem: "Tectonics"
Episcopal Churches mark Evolution Sunday
In the Spotlight: Some Network members take a bow
Anne Wrider
Tom Woolley
Don Wacome
Barbara Smith-Moran
Downloadable Network fliers in English and Spanish
Previous Newsletter Issues


ST&F pioneer Peter Arvedson receives 2006 Genesis Award

At the April meeting of the ST&F Network Steering Board in Brighton, Michigan, Convener Sandra Michael presented the Network's Genesis Award for 2006 to chemist-priest Peter Arvedson, S.O.Sc. The Genesis Award recognizes Episcopalian leaders in the ongoing science-and-religion dialogues in the wider culture.

The citation acknowledged Arvedson as the senior member of the Episcopal Church ST&F Network, one who has been "part of the Ecumenical Roundtable since its inception and has served faithfully, cheerfully, and generously through the years."

After receiving his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin and the M.Div. degree from The General Theological Seminary, he served as pastor of six different parishes over the course of 35 years.
Above, Convener Sandra Michael and Genesis Awardee Peter Arvedson


At the 1997 General Convention, both houses approved a resolution that formed "The Episcopal Church Working Group on Science, Technology & Faith" as a new interim body. "The Working Group, in serving as an educational resource for this Church and its seminaries, endeavors to offer the following, according to the expertise and abilities of its constituency:

    (a) news releases for inclusion in diocesan newsletters;
    (b) aids for Christian education in the parish, concentrating on the young people of confirmation or pre-confirmation age; and
    (c) consultants to seminaries, regarding curriculum development in this area. In addition, the Working Group will research and report on specific issues, as requested by Executive Council or the House of Bishops."
The Working Group had 25 members, mostly from Provinces I, II, and VIII. Peter was a member of the Working Group and its 8-member Steering Committee. He designed the first brochures for the Working Group, to be distributed at the June 1998 meeting of the Executive Council, at which members of the Working Group were invited to make a presentation of their work.

The 2000 General Convention transformed the Working Group into the Executive Council's Committee on Science, Technology & Faith. Twelve members of the Working Group were appointed to the Committee. The rest of the Working Group changed their name to the Network for ST&F, and became a membership organization that would serve as a pool of experience and expertise for the Committee in its ongoing work. Peter served on the Network Steering Board as the first Communications Officer. He later became its Membership Officer, the position he currently holds.

A life-professed member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, a dispersed preaching order of the Anglican Church, Peter retired from parish ministry in 2002 and is now living in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. He may be reached by email at parved@aol.com.


Catechism of Creation wins Episcopal Communicators' "Award of Excellence"
At its annual convention, held this year in April in Sarasota, Florida, Episcopal Communicators announced the winners of the 2006 Polly Bond competition for publications produced in 2005.

A Catechism of Creation: An Episcopal Understanding was given the Award of Excellence, top honor in the "Writing Category" for books published by a national church group or agency. In part, the judge's critique reads as follows:
    Writing: Very clear, especially commendable given the sometimes abstruse and challenging material. Deliniations of scientific principles nicely drawn and succinctly phrased.
    Graphics: Its very predictability--ironically--is one of its gifts. Form and function again. Laid out like a catechism and does its work suitably.
    Content: Terrific and very timely given the fray which gives no indication of settling soon. Cogent, helpful and reasonable descriptions of both 'young earth creationism' and 'intelligent design' as well as approaches the church might consider. Excellent reading of the variant biblical traditions concerning creation. It's rare to see such a short treatment take so many of the biblical accounts seriously and to present them so attractively [and correctly].
A Catechism of Creation in the book format (45 pages) pictured here is available for $5.00 from The Episcopal Book & Resource Center. The text can also be downloaded free from the webpage of the ST&F Committee (link above).

Congratulations to the Committee on ST&F, and to its Creation Subcommittee: Robert Schneider (Chair and principal author), Phina Borgeson, Sandra Michael, and Barbara Smith-Moran (contributing authors).

[More about the mission and activities of Episcopal Communicators may be found at their website, www.episcopalcommunicators.org/.]


Episcopal Delegation's report to Ecumenical Roundtable
    [The Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology & the Church is an annual gathering of official and ad hoc delegations from 6-8 denominations with special interest in ministry within contemporary scientific culture. The Episcopal Church delegation hosted the gathering this year on 28-30 April 2006, at the Emrich Center in Brighton, Michigan--the retreat center of the Diocese of Michigan. The following report was made to the Roundtable by Robert Schneider, Chair of the Executive Council's Committee on Science, Techology & Faith.]
Activities of the Committee
    1. Following the launch of A Catechism of Creation at the last Ecumenical Round Table, the document was presented to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church in June, 2005. The Council accepted it unanimously and by resolution commended it to the Church. A book version has been printed and is now available through the Episcopal Book Store web site. A Braille version of the Catechism has been produced and is available free of charge, and plans are underway for a Spanish language translation. Some supplementary material for the Catechism is already available along with a PDF version on the homepage of the Network on Science, Technology and Faith at www.episcopalchurch.org/science/. Included is a document developed by Phina Borgeson that keys the Bible's creation passages cited in the Catechism to both the Episcopal Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary. Information about the Catechism is now appearing on diocesan and parish web sites. Several members of the Committee have conducted workshops using the Catechism; other members have offered adult forums and science-and-religion short courses at their parishes.
    Above, Episcopal Church delegation to the Roundtable (ST&F Committee and Network Steering Board members).
    Left to right, Dr. Paul Julienne (Va.), The Rev. Canon Johnnie Ross (Lexington), Ms. Susan Youmans (Mass.), Deacon Phina Borgeson (Cal.), Mr. John Miers (Washington, D.C.), Dr. Sandra Michael (Central N.Y.), Dr. Jim Jordan (Northern Cal.), The Rev. Dr. David Bailey (Southern Oh.), Dr. Robert Schneider (Western N.C.), The Rev. Dr. Peter Arvedson (Wisc.)


    2. The Executive Council extended the mandate of the Committee to give it a new task. The Committee will undertake a survey of diocesan and parish activities related to Christian faith as it intersects with science, technology, ethics and creation care. A preliminary protocol has been developed for carrying out this mandate. The information eventually gathered will be collated and forwarded to the Episcopal Church headquarters for posting on the Church web site. The purpose is to inform the Church of the variety of activities undertaken, with the hope that a review of these will inspire others to engage in similar activities to meet similar concerns and challenges.

    3. The committee has submitted two resolutions to the upcoming June meeting of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church [a triennial event]. One affirms the doctrine of creation as set forth in the Bible and the creeds, and acknowledges that evolution is firmly grounded science and fully compatible with Christian faith in a faithful and loving God. It also calls upon the Church to support good science education as defined by the scientific community. The other resolution asks the General Convention to instruct the Committee to explore theological, social, scientific and technological connections between sustainable agriculture and the reduction of poverty, and to develop educational materials in this area for the Church.
From the Network
    1. The Network on Science, Technology and Faith is a membership organization of Episcopalians interested in science and technology as they relate to Christian faith and ethics. The Network publishes a newsletter and has shared with the Presbyterian delegation a presence at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In order to provide better service and engage the members, the Network Steering Board decided to ask webmaster David Bailey to set up a Yahoo members-only listserv, and invite every member with email access to participate. The listserv would provide an opportunity to members to get acquainted with one another and their interests. It would also provide a channel, in addition to the Network homepage, to disseminate information and enhance discussion.

    2. In 2005 the Network Steering Board created the Genesis Award to honor an Episcopalian who has provided leadership and greatly contributed to science-and-faith activities for the Episcopal Church. This year the Genesis Award was presented to the Rev. Dr. Peter Arvedson [see article above].


ST&F at General Convention: Will you be there?
When the Church meets at the Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio, for the 75th General Convention, 13-21 June 2006, watch for the presence of ST&F advocates. Network Convener Sandra Michael wants to gather Network members for fellowship around a meal at a time that suits everyone. If you plan to be in Columbus for all or part of the Convention, Sandra hopes you'll contact her. Here's where you'll find her:
    The table of the Diocese of Central New York, House of Deputies
    The Hyatt Regency, phone: 614-463-1234
    Email, smichael@binghamton.edu
Sandra Michael is also standing for election to the General Board of Examining Chaplains. This Board writes and grades the General Ordination Exams taken by most seminarians preparing for ministry in Holy Orders. Having the ST&F Convener on this Board would be an excellent development, as it would be likely to promote better science literacy among seminarians.

The Executive Council's ST&F Committee is bringing two resolutions before the Convention, as printed in the Blue Book (see description in article above).

And from "a galaxy far, far away," there's a special exhibit at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) that should provide entertainment--and a break from Convention: "Star Wars--Where Science Meets Imagination." COSI brags that this exhibit of sets and props is the first of its kind.



Bp. Katharine Jefferts Schori on the origins of life
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, was asked by National Public Radio to contribute to its internet series, "Taking Issue: The Origins of Life vs. Origins of Species." Her brief essay, "The Origins of Life: An Episcopal View," may be found at the "Taking Issue" website.

Bp. Jefferts Schori has a B.S. in biology from Stanford University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University, and an M.Div. from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She is a strong supporter of the work of the ST&F Network.


Primate of Australia challenges "scientific imperative"
On 29 September 2005, the Most Rev. Dr. Phillip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane, was inaugurated as Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia. He was elected over more conservative bishops and, at 45, is the youngest Primate to lead this province's 23 dioceses.

An interest in science-and-religion topics is suggested by the title of his doctoral dissertation for the University of Monash, Christian Education Reconsidered: Towards an Ecological Future (Clayton, Vic.: Monash University, 1988).

Preaching his inaugural sermon from the readings for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Revelation 12:7-12a; John 1:45-51), the archbishop referred to the evils of runaway consumerism, the callous use of human tissue, and the "scientific imperative" (which states that because scientists can do something, they ought to do it). Here are excepts of that sermon.
    Here, and in many cultures, the dragon is a symbol of the powers and forces that destroy life, that consume people, that demolish communities and wreak havoc with unimaginable power. So the dragon emerges as a figure that tempts people into situation which will give rise to accusations and charges. The dragon becomes the tempter, the seducer, deceiving people into patterns of thinking and acting that destroy, the enemy and opponent of truth.

    And so the archetypal struggle of the human situation is portrayed. Human beings, prone to being deceived, vulnerable to being seduced into wrong choices that destroy, always under attack, and yet always struggling towards the birth of a higher life. The dragon, the power of evil, the enemy of truth, lurks, waiting to deceive, to frustrate the upward reach of humanity. This is life as we know it.

    Where then, lurk the dragons of our day? What shape do they take? Well, their name is legion!

    There is that dragon called materialism which flies in company with its siblings secularism and consumerism. This seduction would have us believe not only that life consists in the abundance of possessions but also that acquiring ever increasing volumes of things is both actually possible and good. Whereas the truth, according to one assessment, is that for everyone in the world to enjoy the same standard of living as is enjoyed in, say, Mosman in Sydney, we would need 7 planet earths to resource it.

    There is that dragon--instrumentalism--which would have us believe that human beings can be used or disposed of to achieve whatever ends seem desirable. This dragon has many lairs in the debates about abortion and euthanasia, reproductive technologies and stem cell research. It takes flight in company with the argument that because science can--it should. Whereas the truth is that careful and deep reflection on the honour due to human life is necessary in all these situations.
      [...]
    Evil is real and flourishing in our community, in disguises which include rampant materialism, unchecked scientific advancement, apparent prosperity and supposed security measures. Evil doesn't always frighten. In fact it can dress in the finest clothes. It is deceptive, seductive, attractive.
      [...]
    Christians are custodians of an alternative vision of what it means to be human. A vision of a meaningful, satisfying, fulfiling way to live. This vision is an antidote, a cure. It does not remove human frailties or vulnerabilities. It certainly does not make church people mistakefree.

    And yet, despite its shortcomings and evident failures, underpinning the church and the good it does in the community is another vision of human being.

    To be truly human, to be fully alive, is to live on the basis of a spirituality that flies in the face of the seductions that surround us most of the time. It is to be somewhat childlike, to be teachable, to remain humble, to eschew pride and arrogance and to be reverent towards other people and towards the natural world. Cultivating a mature spirituality of this sort moves in the opposite direction to the way we usually acquire knowledge--where the pattern is becoming the expert and gradually exercising more and more power.

    Paradoxically, this mature, thoughtful, humble, discerning spirituality is the weapon that pierces the dragons' apparently impregnable armour. In fact, it already has. The struggle of the dragon to frustrate what is good and true reaches its climax on the cross. But it does not hold sway.

    The manner of Jesus Christ's life and death, "by the blood of the Lamb" as St John puts it, is the peculiar power by which the dragon has been conquered. Our part in the outworking of the struggle is to abide in Christ, to grow up into him. That is, to be so united with him and with each other that the shape and character of his life--his humility, reverence and service--flows into ours, making us his healing reconciling presence in the world.

    This is our vocation, our privilege and our joy. May this character pervade our church and be our gift to the world. Amen.
[The entire text of the Inauguration Sermon may be downloaded from the website of the Diocese of Brisbane.]


Report from the Network's April Steering Board meeting
by Sandra Michael, ST&F Network Convener

The Episcopal Church Network for Science, Technology and Faith held its annual Steering Board meeting on 28 April 2006, at Emrich Center, Brighton, Michigan.

Attendance: Convener Sandra Michael, Peter Arvedson, David Bailey, Phina Borgeson, James Jordan, Robert Schneider, and Susan Youmans, constituting a quorum. Guests: Network members Paul Julienne, John Miers, and Johnnie Ross.

(1) The "Genesis Award" for 2006 was presented to the Rev. Dr. Peter Arvedson for his distinguished service to the Church in the area of religion and science.

(2) Report on Membership. Arvedson raised serious questions about the present status of the Network: What is its role? What is its structural connection to the Committee? There is a sense that members are not getting much for the $20.00 annual dues they are asked to pay. How can we change that?

The Steering Board is a subcommittee of the Committee on Science, Technology and Faith (the Network itself is not); it is responsible for offering something to the membership; it needs to see to it that the membership is informed more frequently so that they feel truly a part of a network. The e-Newsletter is fine, but it's not enough. Should those who pay dues get something extra? What about useful tools and materials relating to science, technology and faith: should these be put on the website and made accessible to members and others? Who might write such materials?

Suggestions: (1) drop membership dues and for Network projects that require funding, set a budget and ask for contributions; (2) set up a listserv on Yahoo for Network members only. The majority view was to keep the dues but proceed with the listserv. Arvedson, Michael and Ross will put together a protocol for the listserv.

(3) Treasurer's Report: the report was submitted by Claire Lofgren via email.

(4) The Convener reported on expenditures from the Network to the AAAS to share the cost of the display table jointly used with Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology and the Christian Faith.

(5) Further discussion: how to make the listserv project a reality:
    (1) set up the listserv;
    (2) have Committee members and others "seed" the listserv with topics for discussion.
Youmans reported that papers from the 2001 Conference on Genetically Modified Foods are in the process of being vetted, with 13 of the 23 completed. Bailey said that papers of substance should be put in PDF form; he will check with Pam Tang to see if she is still under contract with the Office of Communications at 815 and enlist her help. Papers produced for posting on the Network site should be vetted by at least two persons, one a committee member.

Questions about the meeting may sent by email to smichael@binghamton.edu.


"What's the ID hubbub?"--forum at Ascension, NYC
    by Janet Fisher
[The Church of the Ascension, 5th Ave. at 10th St., New York City, received a grant from Trinity Church, Wall St., to present this forum. The following report from Life at Ascension (March-April 2006) is excerpted by permission of the parish administrator.]

Thanks to recent media events across the country, Darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, and creationism are concepts and words swirling around once again in the forefront of public consciousness. The age-old debate between science, religion, and education continues to occupy our individual and collective thoughts.

People of differing stages and ages attended the 20/30s Forum, "Intelligent Design: What's all the Hubbub?" in the parish hall on January 25 to hear various perspectives offered on the topic by a panel of leading scholars and thinkers from across the academic and religious spectrum.

The program was moderated by Ronald Young, doctoral candidate in Anglican Studies at the General Theological Seminary and a member of Ascension. Members of the panel included Dr. Robert Pollack, formerly dean of Columbia College, professor of Biological Sciences, and director for the Center for the Study of Sciences and Religion at Columbia University, and adjunct professor at Union Theological Seminary; the Rev. Dr. Mary Foulke, associate for Christian Formation at St. Luke-in-the-Fields and chaplain to St. Luke's School; and Dr. Joseph C. Hough, president of Union Theological Seminary, where he is also the William E. Dodge Professor of Social Ethics. The presentations were interspersed with readings from Inherit the Wind, a play about the 1925 Tennessee vs John Scopes Trial, generally referred to as the "Monkey Trial."

Dr. Pollack spoke cogently about the juncture of "science and other intellectual and emotional domains, in particular religion." He further elaborated when the facts of science and the wisdom of religion are explored and able to identify blindnesses in each, a viable result may emerge. Mother Foulke addressed the juncture of science and faith in her personal background and the writings of the science fiction writer Octavia Butler, and how the two have managed to surface with an outlook on the ethics of each. Dr. Hough pointed out his concern in the current debate-- there persists a level of intolerance to various points of view--and his concern that the pedagogy shaping the future academic arena for his grandchildren will be crippled by a lack of openness and awareness.

Thanks to the presentation and questions raised by the audience, at the end of the evening we were all better informed about these concepts and there is little doubt the dialogue will continue for the days, months, and years ahead in and out of the church.


Catechism of Creation goes to seminary
    by Phina Borgeson
A few months ago Marion Grau, Assistant Professor of Theology at the Church Divinity of School of the Pacific (CDSP), stopped me in the hallway to offer praise for the Catechism of Creation, and to tell me she was recommending to her classes for use in congregations. So when I realized that Barbara Smith-Moran was going to begin her D.Min. at CDSP this spring, I suggested we work together on a program for the CDSP community.

The three of us met and came up with the idea of an after-dinner forum for the Thursday "Community Night" on 6 April.
Smith-Moran related how the Committee on Science, Technology and Faith came into being, and how the sub-committee on Creation responded to theologian Kendall Harmon's suggestion for a catechism of creation with much research and many drafts by lead writer Robert Schneider. She stressed the importance of communicating learnings in a form--and even with a font--that Episcopalians can easily recognize.

I offered an overview of the three sections of the catechism, highlighting aspects of the content and identifying groups with which they are being used. I also emphasized the challenge of preparing a middle-of-the-road document, while reflecting the range of theologies used by Episcopalians in the bibliography.
Above, Phina Borgeson takes notes.


We then opened the forum for dialogue, sparked by Grau, on where we might go from here. What questions arise as we engage the Catechism, which topics need amplification in future editions, and what are related topics we might think about, or on which the church might want to produce similar documents?

Grau acknowledged the need for a centrist document, but expressed a wish for more process theology, more attention to eco-feminism, and a stronger challenge to anthropocentrism and the stewardship approach to nature. She also wondered about possibilities for connecting our understandings to the lenten message that "you are dust and to dust you shall return." How does taking the createdness of human nature seriously affect how we deal with burial practices, with responses to reproductive loss, and with disability?

A few students felt there was insufficient attention to the Fall and to original sin in the Catechism. While all acknowledged that more could be done, Grau challenged us to think about what question the doctrine of the Fall is an answer to, a helpful reframing of the critique.

Other topics which participants identified suggest areas where resources might be added to the ST&F webpage on the Episcopal Church site. The mind-brain relationship, the plethora of bioethics issues, nanotechnology and robotics, and implications of "evo-devo" for how we think about creation all came up.

[Joyce Wilding, a member of the Network's Steering Board, has plans to take the Catechism to Sewanee School of Theology (The University of the South) this fall as part of the ENTREAT program she directs there (see article in Vol. 3-2). We look forward to her report in the next issue. -Ed.]


Poem: "Tectonics"
    by Jan Nunley
[The Rev. Jan Nunley is Deputy Director (News & Information) of Episcopal News Service. In this poem, she shows how scientific concepts can suggest provocative ways to think about the divine. She says, "The poem came to me on a Sunday during Eucharist, after I'd been reading about plate tectonics. (It's how I get to sleep at night--I find geology to be very restful!)" This poem is copyrighted 2005 and is reprinted here with the author's permission. She may be reached at jnunley@episcopalchurch.org].
    Though the mountains tremble:
    and deep, deep, deep in the earth
    rocks flow like water
    in unimaginable heat that
    changes their very nature
    their molecular structure.
    Below our feet. Below our
    bended knees. One weakness
    in the crust, the thin veil of
    solidity, the illusion of soil and
    rock. There is heat, flow,
    currents of magnetism,
    pulses of energy, while we
    sleep and dream. One
    weakness in the crust,
    one fold, one slip, one fault,
    and all that is solid melts into
    itself, consumed by fire.
    What world is this? Made
    by what God, in what kind
    of heaven enthroned?
    The pulses stir, turn, twist
    on themselves; seek weakness,
    meet resistance, move on.


Episcopal churches mark "Evolution Sunday"
Sixty-four Episcopal Churches in 34 dioceses designated 12 February 2006 as "Evolution Sunday," proclaiming that "religion and science are not adversaries."

Created as part of the Clergy Letter Project (see Newsletter 4-2), the ecumenical service marked the 197th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. It was celebrated by 433 congregations in 49 states representing the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, Unitarian, and other Protestant "mainline" traditions.

[To read the full article in The Living Church, go to http://www.livingchurch.org/publishertlc/viewarticle.asp?ID=1693.]


In the Spotlight: Some Network members take a bow

For this feature, we invite our members to introduce themselves with short biographies. Please send your own bio-sketch to the editor.


Downloadable Network fliers in both Spanish and English
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).


Previous Newsletter Issues
Vol. 1-1, All Saints 2001
Vol. 1-2, Epiphany 2002
Vol. 1-3, Trinity 2002
Vol. 3-1, Ash Wednesday 2004
Vol. 3-2, St. Luke (18 Oct.) 2004
Vol. 2-1, New Year 2003
Vol. 2-2, Sts Peter & Paul 2003
Vol. 2-3, Christmas 2003
Vol. 4-1, Lent 5 (mid-March) 2005
Vol. 4-2, St. Aidan (31 Aug.) 2005
Vol. 4-3, Christ the King (20 Nov.) 2005
Newsletter Homepage: http://home.earthlink.net/~smithmoran/

Send comments and news items to the Network Newsletter editor, The Rev. Barbara Smith-Moran, S.O.Sc.
All Network Newsletter materials may be reproduced with proper attribution.
Revised 3 June 2006