Baptist churches secure funding for science projects
Sessions building robots to explore Artificial Intelligence and science-faith themed videos for a café church are among the Baptist projects being supported in a scheme that aims to foster greater understanding of science and faith.
The latest round of Scientists in Congregations programme funding features successful applications from Croxley Green Baptist Church in Hertfordshire and Amberley Road Baptist Church in Bristol.
Croxley Green sought funding for MES-AI Church – a project to help local church groups explore Artificial Intelligence and consider the technological and theological issues raised.
The church’s senior minister is Dave Gregory, Baptist Union President 2018-19 and a former scientist. In 2016 Dave, who has a background in physics, astronomy, and meteorology, secured Scientists in Congregations funding for Messy Science – 100 sizzling science-based ideas for Messy Church, published the following year.
The project will allow children and adults together with an interest or experience of AI to build robots that can respond to a series of challenges.
Alongside developing skills in programming and experience of the principles and potential of AI, the project will engage with theological and ethical questions that AI raises and provide a vehicle for people of all ages to explore their own faith, spirituality and engagement with God.
Dave said, ‘Artificial Intelligence is going to have a big impact on our lives in the next 10 to 20 years and the world that our children and grandchildren will grow up in.
‘Our aim is to help families in local communities explore the science, ethical issues and faith questions that arise from this and have some fun along the way.’
Cafe Church, Bristol secured funding to produce four science-faith themed videos for its café church.
The church is a small Baptist church in Patchway, an area of high deprivation with few active churches. In order to serve its community, the church organises its Sunday worship in the form of a café church where it serves breakfast before spending the following hour in an informal worship service.
Its team includes Andy Thomas, an accredited Baptist minister and filmmaker. In order to help members of its local congregation to develop their faith Monday-Friday, the church now produces a short Christian video each weekday, called The Fuelcast. The Fuelcast has been of use to Christians throughout the UK and even further afield, and the growing library can be found at thefuelcast.com. This ministry means the church has the equipment to produce high quality videos.
The four themes will be creation, suffering, existence of God and the Universe.
The two Baptist churches are among 14 church projects receiving a total of £70,000 in grants from the Scientists in Congregations scheme to foster greater understanding about science and faith.
The Scientists in Congregations programme is part of Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science, a Durham University project run in partnership with the Church of England. The project is funded by Templeton World Charity Foundation.
There was also funding towards the Ely Cathedral Science Festival in the 50th anniversary year of the Moon landings, as well as for the transformation of Lichfield Cathedral’s nave floor into a visual reproduction of the moon’s surface and other events to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing.
The Bishop of Kingston, Dr Richard Cheetham, who is one of the directors of ‘Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science’ said: ‘These varied and imaginative projects bring fresh and exciting ways of engaging with contemporary science and technology, and the questions raised about the place and purpose of humankind in the cosmos.
‘They explore how it really is possible to have a deep and intelligent faith in God, which fully engages with our 21st-century scientific age.
‘The grants made available through the Scientists in Congregations scheme have made it abundantly clear that there is innovative and deep engagement with these issues in many contexts across the UK.’
Image | Alex Knight | Unsplash