The Project

Project background

ECLAS grew out of preliminary research funded by the John Templeton Foundation and then a major project funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) and was headed by Revd Professor David Wilkinson, Professor Tom McLeish, and the Rt Revd Dr Richard Cheetham (Bishop of Kingston).

This project identified a lack of confidence on the part of a number of senior church leaders (selected both from the Church of England and some parachurch organizations) in discussing and/or engaging with science.

Current goals

The current phase of the project began in January 2020 with an additional £3.4million of funding from Templeton Religion Trust.

By equipping senior church leaders through conferences, expert advice, and original research, and expanding scientific literacy via our Science for Seminaries and Scientists in Congregations awards, ECLAS will positively influence all levels of church leadership in the UK in their engagement with science.

Five strands, one vision


Diagram showing project structure


Research – The project is supported and informed by ongoing original, empirical research into the way church leaders relate to science. In the current phase of the project, this research will focus on the attitudes of church leaders towards science, the narratives which underlie attitudes to science and theology in the church and media, and how the church engages in issues of science and theology in politics and media. This work will be undertaken by Postdoctoral Research Associates based at Durham University, York University and Church House.

Conferences – Our conference programme allows us to work with strategically targeted groups of church leaders to increase confidence, excitement and a sense of relevance about the big questions of science, introducing cutting edge scientific developments from physics to neuroscience. Previous conferences have covered topics including cosmology, evolution, fracking, the environment, complexity, the human person, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence.

Policy – We are collaborating with the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishops’ Council in order to resource leaders for their work in the public sphere.

Science for Seminaries – Our theological training materials introduce church leaders of the future to pressing issues in science, so that they are better able to lead the church’s future ministry and mission.

Scientists in Congregations – Our awards scheme extends these vital themes to the learning and worshipping lives of congregations in the UK, by offering grant funding to support science outreach.