Those who seek to plow straight rows and grow healthy crops in the fields of science and religion often encounter many rocks and other obstacles in their path.
A group of EMU faculty from a cross-section of departments are seeking to improve growing conditions in this arena by forming the Shenandoah Anabaptist Science Society (SASS) for constructive engagement of science and religion.
The group has received a three-year, $15,000 matching grant administered by the the Metanexus Institute Local Societies Initiative, a Philadelphia, Pa.-based organization, with funding from the John Templeton Foundation.
One of the SASS organizers is Kenton T. Derstine, director of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. He said that the Metanexus funds “will be used to support ongoing study and discussion groups, bring outside speakers on the subject to campus, support publications that emerge from the group’s work, organize conferences and provide other forms of outreach in the larger Shenandoah Valley area.”
Events and special presentations “will be open to all interested people from the broader community,” Derstine said.
Another steering commmittee member, Roman J. Miller, professor of biology at EMU, said the Society “will provide resources and a formal context to encourage the integration of Christian faith – particularly in its Anabaptist expression and convictions concerning peacemaking and service.”
“The Society will help deepen our faculty’s collaborative work across departments and disciplines as well as provide opportunities for students to benefit both from ongoing discussions and outside resource persons brought to campus,” Dr. Miller said. “We expect that students will gain important practical experience in helping with the organizational work and in learning more about major real-world issues at the intersection of science and Christian faith,” he added.
Society activities have started over the Thursday noon hour in the east dining room with a weekly discussion of the book, “Whatever Happened to the Soul: Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature,” by Nancey Murphy and others. Discussion leaders are Theodore (Ted) Grimsrud and Christian Early of EMU’s Bible and religion department. The book’s author will be on campus Oct. 27 to interact with faculty, students and community persons.
SASS membership is open to EMU students, faculty and staff and community persons, including faculty and students from neighboring academic institutions. Membership dues are $5 for students and $10 for others. For more information, contact Ann G. Hershberger of the EMU nursing department, (432-4190 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kenton T. Derstine of the seminary (432-4565 or email@example.com).