Scientists in Congregations guest post: Wild and Wonderful
Guest post from Petra Crofton, Scientists in Congregations project co-director at St Lawrence Church in Barnwood and author of Science Geek Christy and her Eco-Logbook.
I am a project co-director for a Scientists in Congregations project based at St Lawrence Church in Gloucester. ‘Science, Faith and Creation Care’ has been running for a year. Through monthly science and faith services, a Lent course, and two Celebration of Creation days for the church and community, it has been a joy to revel in and learn about the world God has made.
“Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” Psalm 111:2
Most of our activities have been focused on children: we run various workshops and book clubs at the local Church of England primary school, a monthly Explore Creation session and outdoor youth group, and we held special eco-activities around Christmas and Easter too.
At the moment, we’re planning an ‘Awesome Science’ workshop for the local school. Children will go round five stations, learning about faith as well as science: from space and the Big Bang to rocks, fossils, evolution and dinosaurs. We want to communicate that God invites us to study and look after the world. At the end, children will be invited to write a prayer and make a bracelet, to remind them of how God has made them all unique and wonderful.
Running activities both at church and the local primary school has been a great privilege. It has been exciting to engage with children asking questions like: Who is God? How did God make the world? Can we believe in God and also trust science? And how should we care for the planet?
Hands-on learning has been incredibly powerful: in our book club for children in years five and six, students have inspected fossils, painted rocks, played dinosaur quiz games and discussed the Big Bang and evolution. A second book club for years three and four has discovered all about biodiversity, designed wildlife gardens and discussed climate change, plastic pollution, and our hopes for the planet. During these workshops, children asked brilliant questions, and they clearly care about the planet.
We have learned a lot this year, and found that most people, regardless of age, are really interested in the big questions about science and faith. During church services about science or environmental issues, we found that focusing on one concept, using simple visual aids, and asking the audience to think and discuss in small groups worked well. For some people, this was their first opportunity to think of science and faith as complementary, rather than opposing, forces. Books we used include Francis Collins’ The Language of God, several Faraday publications and the Science Geek books.
Many people who come to the Explore Creation and youth group sessions are not familiar with the Bible. We plan to create an outdoor programme exploring God’s story, from the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the New Earth in Revelation. Combining outdoor exploration with Bible stories, crafts and games inside has worked well for us. We are keen to combine and further develop the various programmes, to create 24 ‘ready to use’ sessions for churches to use in their work with children and families.
We will be offering at least two workshops on how to run children’s work this year on 15 October and 5 November in Gloucester. Please contact me on: Petra Crofton firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information.
We have created a resource for churches and holiday clubs with six sessions for children and families (Explore Creation), an education pack for primary schools and the Explore Creation (90 minute) schools resource. Download for free on: www.wildandwonderful.uk. The 16 cross-curricular lessons follow the eco-themes in Science Geek Christy, with additional crafts, quizzes, recipes and ‘how to’ guides. The ‘Awesome Science’ resource pack explores science and faith and will be made available in the autumn.
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