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New funding to explore relationships between faith and science.

Posted on 17 January 2020

The University of York will co-lead a £3.4m project to transform the relationship between science and faith.

The Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science (ECLAS) project will provide opportunities for those training for the priesthood in the Church of England to learn about cutting edge science.

Professor Tom Mcleish is Professor of Natural Philosophy at York. He will lead the project along with Revd Professor David Wilkinson, Professor of Theology and Principal of St John’s College, Durham University, the Bishop of Kingston, Richard Cheetham, and Revd Dr Kathryn Pritchard, Project Director in the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Division.

They will be supported by York's Dr Amanda Rees and the Church of England's Head of Mission and Public Affairs, Revd Dr Malcolm Brown.

Professor McLeish said: “This major grant will assist in realising and deepening the re-discovery that the Church and science are natural partners, as has been the case throughout most of their history.

“Bringing theology, science and engagement with the community together is the powerful combination of ECLAS.”

Professor David Wilkinson said: “The size of this project shows great confidence in the fruitfulness of the ECLAS approach and also great confidence in St John’s College and the international status of Durham University.”

Theological colleges and courses will be encouraged to bid for funds to help integrate discussion on science-related subjects into existing theological studies.

Organisers hope that up to half of all people training for ordained ministry will eventually benefit from sessions where they have an opportunity to discuss topics such as Artificial Intelligence and the questions it raises for society among other themes.

Following a two-year pilot project funded by John Templeton Foundation, Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science was launched in 2015 with funding from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. A further grant awarded in 2019 by Allchurches Trust allowed the project to be extended.

Read more about the ELCAS project 

This major new three-year project will be funded by Templeton Religion Trust.

The ECLAS project will:

  • Identify the core constituents of effective, impactful, theologically informed engagement of churches with science.
  • Hold conferences for senior church leaders and clergy on issues in cutting edge science
  • Launch an awards initiative to encourage professional scientists to help local churches, cathedrals and communities to create imaginative and accessible opportunities for authentic science-engaged theological learning
  • Encourage science-engaged theology in UK theological colleges and courses
  • Ensure theology is embedded in shaping policy and communication in partnership with the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Church of England.

A team of three postdoctoral research fellows will also work on the project. One of the fellows will be based in the Department of Sociology and in the interdisciplinary Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU) at York.

For further information see: