Congregational life is a major factor in shaping the spiritual life of Christians. Yet too often it is isolated from the intellectual life of our culture, particularly the sciences. In many congregations this is not so much due to overt hostility as neglect, compounded by uncertainty about what can and should be done. At the same time, many congregations include scientists who are so far an untapped resource for wider engagement. Through fifteen small-scale (£10,000) grants to congregations across Scotland, this program will catalyze change by helping congregations find ways to mobilise their existing intellectual resources. This program is also designed to create a broad network of people intent on making intellectual growth a richer part of church life. To accomplish this, the program organizers will hold conferences, public lectures and maintain extensive personal connections with each grantee throughout the life of the sub-grants. Also, it will disseminate the findings to a wider audience as a step in leveraging the successes of each funded project toward wider and more lasting change in the way the Christian community in Scotland engages the sciences.
Central to our strategy is the mobilization of scientists who participate faithfully in church life and are also vocationally engaged with the scientific world. It is fair to assume that many of these persons have thought about the integration of science and faith. And it is also safe to assume that few of them have been asked to help cultivate this integration in their congregations. Consequently, they are present in churches as a vital but latent resource for creating a culture in which the relationship between science and faith is appreciated as spiritually vital and intellectually sound. By engaging, exciting and supporting them, alongside pastors, this program will enable congregations to develop resources and curricula that will awaken a new and durable appreciation for issues of science and faith.