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Science for Seminaries award winners announced

 Helen Billam

We are delighted to announce that we have awarded grants to nine theological colleges in the UK through our Science for Seminaries programme, with the aim of promoting science-engaged theology.

The colleges have each received sums of up to £60,000 to incorporate science into their curriculum. Colleges are expected to develop or refine at least one core module and host wider-reaching activities which model how science engages with theology. Theological teachers and scientific advisors will be invited to retreats and conferences to share their progress and hear from leading thinkers in science-engaged theology. The awards run for the 2021-2 academic year.

The successful recipients are the London School of Theology, Nazarene Theological College, Ripon College Cuddesdon, Regents Theological College, Cranmer Hall, St Augustine’s College of Theology, Sarum College, Wycliffe Hall, and the University of Aberdeen’s School of Divinity.

The Revd Prof David Wilkinson, ECLAS Co-Director and Principal of St John’s College, Durham University, said:

“Science and theology can be brought into rich dialogue if we only take opportunities to do so. We are delighted to award our Science for Seminaries grants to the successful colleges, all of whom have creative ideas for engaging science with theology in their training for ordinands. Through these awards we will see future generations of church leaders given a grounding in science that will help them to preach persuasively, pastor responsively, and take delight in creation.”

The Rt Revd Humphrey Southern, Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, said: “I am very excited that Cuddesdon has been selected for the Science for Seminaries project. This will have a major impact on how our students are formed – as much culturally as intellectually and spiritually – to engage with the world in service of the Gospel, and to enter with confidence and humility into the vitally important conversation that is to be had between people of faith and scientific practitioners.”

The Revd Dave Newton, Principal of Regents Theological College, commented: “At Regents we are so excited to receive the Science for Seminaries grant.  We believe it is vital that those training in ministry are prepared and able to engage with issues of science and faith. We believe that as a Pentecostal college we are uniquely positioned to help students explore some exciting research areas and equip future ministers for a changing landscape.”

Prof Iain Torrance KCVO Kt FRSE, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and President Emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary, said: “The global pandemic has shown the same virus and vastly different kinds of response from different governments and societies. The acceptability of lockdown as a measure draws on notions of wholeness and well-being. That is one dimension in the range of the ever-evolving debate between science and belief. Ultimately this proposal is about the practical exploration of the relationship between psychopharmaceutical intervention and spirituality. Nothing could be more contemporary or more crucial.”

The Revd Canon Prof James Woodward, Sarum College Principal, said: “Public ministry in the 21st-century requires flexibility, resilience and an ability to enable us to understand the wonder and complexity of our world. Too often science has been pitched against religion as a competing framework within which we understand ourselves and the shape of our human flourishing. The Science for Seminaries grant will enable us to develop our learning and teaching in the key areas of the environment, artificial intelligence and why life science can enable us to understand the possibilities of our life together in community.”

The Revd Prof Mark Cartledge, FRSA, Principal of the London School of Theology, , said: “LST is really excited to be part of this project, bringing science and evangelical theology into dialogue at the core of our curriculum and taking forward some key conversations on eco-theology at our upcoming conferences. We very much look forward to working with ECLAS, St John’s College and other colleges to enrich the theological conversation, train future church leaders in their knowledge of science and contribute to scholarship in the field.”

The Revd Dr Deirdre Brower Latz, Principal of Nazarene Theological College, said: “As a college we are committed to developing rich engagement between disciplines, equipping Christians and their leaders to engage thoughtfully with the questions emerging in our world. From genome sequencing to artificial intelligence, from environmental care to quantum physics, from medical interventions through vaccines to end of life questions, science is shaping our communities. How do theology and science speak to one another? We’re delighted to be part of the Science for Seminaries project, enhancing and enabling us to develop and engage in ever deeper ways with the questions of our age.”

The Revd Dr Philip Plyming, Warden of Cranmer Hall, commented: “Cranmer Hall is thrilled to be involved in Science for Seminaries. Ministers in training need confidence to engage with a wide range of public issues, and scientific advances bear on so many different areas of life, mission, and doctrine. Our project aims to equip ministers in training – and, through our podcast series, ordinary Christians – with the tools to understand the relationship between science and faith in a constructive light, and to engage in apologetics and mission on this basis.”

The Revd Dr Alan Gregory, Principal of St. Augustine’s College of Theology, said: “Ever since my granddaughter came home from school announcing, ‘I don’t believe in God; I believe in science’, I’ve looked eagerly for a project like this. In preaching the gospel, ordained and lay ministers cannot afford to ignore the formative power of the sciences in our culture. The ‘Science for Seminaries’ project addresses our urgent need for ministers scientifically literate enough to delight in the world revealed by natural science; confident about engaging in conversations provoked by science; alert to myths about the conflict between science and religion; and able to speak to the insights that theology can offer the sciences.”

The Revd Dr Justyn Terry, Vice Principal and Academic Dean of Wycliffe Hall, said: “I am really excited that Wycliffe will be participating in the Science for Seminaries project. It will help us equip our students to integrate up-to-date scientific understanding into their theological and ministerial training, bringing the two cultures closer together, and helping equip future ministers to proclaim Christ to contemporary society.”

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