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From the Office of the President

Happy summer, colleagues!

I’ve recently returned from Washington, DC, where I met with some of the good people at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  Their Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) recently received a $1.2M grant from the Lilly Endowment Thriving Congregations effort to support science education for congregations and their leaders.  You might remember them from their Science for Seminaries initiative; they provided grants to seminaries and to lifelong learning programs in theological schools to do science programming for theologically-trained people.  It’s a worthwhile effort, re-knitting scientific and theological inquiry (which really don’t need to be in conflict, but that’s a reflection for another time).  With this new grant, DoSer will be offering grants of up to $25,000 for organizations like yours to do this science education!  (Stay tuned – we’ll let you know when the request for proposals goes live!)

The May meeting convened a group of scientist-theologians and leaders of lifelong learning efforts to inform and frame this new project, called Science Education for Congregational Flourishing (SECF – yes, another acronym).  I attended on behalf of ALLLM and shared data on the state of lifelong learning programs and their leadership.

As we discussed, scientists and theologians have a lot more in common than most people think.  They share a sense of wonder and awe at a world that presents itself to us full of mysteries to be encountered and explored.  Lifelong learning is a good match for such an appetite, affirming the curiosity and hope at the heart of scientific and religious commitments when they are at their best.  It was good company, and the conversation was stellar.  We heard from colleagues at Yale who, in a Med school and Div school collaboration, are exploring the role of prayer in pain mitigation.  We heard from an astrophysicist-turned-priest about incorporating science as a necessary part of priestly formation.  We mulled the value of scientific inquiry as a model for faithfully asking questions and allowing ourselves to be open to new insight and surprises.

I was reminded yet again of how valuable it is to gather with like-minded peers and to reframe my work and thoughts in good company.  In times that are increasingly marked by echo chambers and silos and division, peer organizations like ours provide a witness to another way of being, marked by collaboration across difference.  Your faithful exec team is working hard to provide more opportunities to build this community!  In the meantime, thanks.  Thanks for being part of this community – and for doing this good work. 






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