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Survey highlights Ministers' science interest 

A third of Baptist ministers hold a degree in a scientific discipline, an Association survey has found. However, few of them engaged with issues of science and faith during their ministerial formation.

Science for ministersThe survey of ministers in Hertfordshire also found that 95 per cent thought that keeping up with science was important. And yet only 10 per cent felt they engaged with issues of science and faith during training for ministry.

“I found the results of the survey surprising and refreshing”, commented the Revd Dr Dave Gregory, Senior Minister of Croxley Green Baptist Church, who carried out the survey.

Dave, who has a back ground in meteorology and climate research, added: “Expanding the survey to those on the Southern Counties and Central Baptist Association (CBA) Footsteps Lay Training programme revealed similar levels of science education and interest. There appears to be a pool of people in local church, who alongside ministers, might be enabled to help the church engage with issues related to science that relate to ministry and faith.”

In response to the results of the survey, Dave is running a Science for Ministers workshop in Milton Keynes in May. The aim of the workshop is to help CBA ministers ‘grow in confidence in engaging with areas of science that they might meet in everyday ministry in the local church and beyond’.

The day workshop will cover a range of scientific topics and issues, exploring the insights that science brings as well as faith perspectives on them.

“It's often thought that the main area that science and faith connect is in discussions of creation, the big bang and evolution," Dave explained. "But there are areas beyond apologetic where an understanding of science is valuable to Christians and ministers. Many people in the survey felt comfortable discussing these issues.

"Climate change was another area where people felt informed, perhaps because of the many great resources mission agencies such as BMS with FutureShape? have produced, along with it being talked about national events such as Catalyst Live.
“Other areas of science felt less comfortable for ministers and lay members of our churches. Despite much coverage of the discovery of the “God particle” by the Large Hadron Collider, few participants in the survey could talk about it in an informed way. 

"And while that may seen rather abstract, few felt comfortable talking about genetics either, an area which is beginning to impact upon the pastoral care we offer as people are offered new medical treatments such as “three person babies”. Some understanding of science is helpful to developing ethical and theological responses, as well as helping people to navigate such issues often in the midst of the painful lives.”
“Science also helps people to experience the wonder of the world that God has made, leading to worship, but also wondering about how this God can be encountered in life.”

Dave also revealed that he runs a science lab during the monthly Messy Church, using simple science experiments such as making rainbow makers from DVDs, wave machines and even extracting DNA, to connect families with the church and help them remember the Bible stories shared.

"I have found that many of the children get excited by science and it's an opportunity to show them that being a Christian doesn’t mean you cannot be amazed and thrilled by what science tells us about life.”

To find out more and to book a place, contact Revd Dave Gregory on 07501 065481 or dave@croxleybaptist.co.uk

Baptist Times, 11/03/2015
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