Monday, October 04, 2004

I found this press release from the ELCA rather interesting... any comments?

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- About 45 scientists and pastors, membersof the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, studied the linksbetween their Christian faith and their vocations and avocationsin science and technology. They gathered here Sept. 17-19 for a"Sunday Scientists! Symposium" sponsored by the ELCA Alliance forFaith, Science and Technology. "The aim was twofold," said Dr. Kevin Powell, a member ofthe Alliance, symposium organizer and a pediatrician, College ofMedicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "One wasto improve how Lutheran congregations relate to science, and theother was on a more personal level," he said. "For many of these people there's been a conflict betweenscience and religion, and they are people who really want tointegrate the two. They feel that what they are doing with theirvocation is what God has called them to do," Powell said. "The symposium was to give people cognitive tools, emotionalsupport and some affirmation from the institutional church thatyes, what they are doing is in fact God's calling," he said. "This was a great opportunity for people to come together tothink about what it means to be a scientist and a Christian andhow to live this out in their daily lives," said Gail Bucher,retired pharmacologist and chair, ELCA Alliance for Faith,Science and Technology, Belmont, Mass. "It met all of ourexpectations and probably exceeded them," she said. The symposium attracted Lutheran pastors, scientists,retired scientists and students, Bucher said. Some pastors weretrained in the sciences as well as Christian ethics andcongregational dynamics. The scientists represented such fieldsas astronomy, atomic physics, biochemistry, biotechnology,chemistry, computer science, environmental chemistry,mathematics, meteorology, molecular biology, neuroscience,nuclear chemistry, organizational biology, physics and publichealth. Participants came from California, Colorado, Illinois,Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico,New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia,Washington and Wisconsin. Their ages ranged from early 20s to80s. "If nothing else happened, we have now a great network offolks from within the ELCA" who can be a resource for the churchand a support system for each other, Bucher said. The symposium's agenda included worship, lectures,discussions and activities. Speakers included:+ Sarah Fredericks, a doctoral student in science, philosophy andreligion, Boston University, Mass.+ Dr. Theodore Hiebert, professor of Old Testament, McCormickTheological Seminary, Chicago+ The Rev. Antje Jackelen, associate professor of systematictheology, religion and science, and director, Zygon Center forReligion and Science, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago+ The Rev. George L. Murphy, ELCA pastor and trained physicist,pastoral associate, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Akron, Ohio, andadjunct faculty, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio+ Dr. Scott Nichols, scientist, Dupont, West Chester, Pa.+ The Rev. Patrick Russell, associate pastor, St. Peter'sLutheran Church, Lafayette, Pa.+ Roger Willer, part-time associate for studies, ELCA Divisionfor Church in Society, and doctoral candidate in theology,University of Chicago Presentation topics included a history of the interactionbetween science and religion, neuroscience and theology, andgenetically modified organisms. Small group discussions dealtwith the minimum scientific and theological understandings themodern Christian needs, a Bible of the book of Genesis, and theUnited Methodist Church's position on science and creationtheology. "George Murphy and Antje Jackelen handled the topic ofevolution and creation," Bucher said. "These are very difficultissues for Christians who are scientists to get their headsaround" and to explain how creation and evolution can co-exist inthe faith life of a Lutheran scientist, she said. Some of the most interesting speakers were the participants,Powell said. They discussed their experiences in ELCAcongregations and gave the Alliance some ideas on how to proceed,he said. "Our aim is to make congregations friendlier to science sothey can understand the world they are living in, which is soprofoundly influenced by science," Powell said. "People in thecongregations, especially the non-scientists, recognize how muchtheir lives are affected by science, but they can be veryfrustrated trying to figure out how to impact that change," hesaid.

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