Stalybridge church wins funding for science-faith programme

HOLY Trinity and Christ Church, Stalybridge (HTS) has been awarded £19,877.40 to explore the relationship between science and faith through the church engagement programme Scientists in Congregations, which is run by Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science (ECLAS).

Holy Trinity is one of 22 churches and organisations in England and Wales to receive grants totalling £400,000, to be used over the next 18 months on a creative, public-facing project.

This award will be used to fund a new project called ‘Believing Science’ which will operate across three churches in the North of England, beginning in Stalybridge with follow-on work in Wakefield and Blackpool.

Rev Gary Kennaugh

The project aims to transform local churches into active, pro-science centres to encourage interest in and enthusiasm for science in their communities.

As well as providing teaching on science and faith to the churches involved, the project will organise several community focused science themed activities through local schools, foodbanks, youth groups and other avenues as they arise.

Each church will also host a large scale, science-based, family fun day for their local community called a ‘Wonder Day’. This day will offer opportunities for creative, experiential encounters with science by providing workshops, shows and hands-on opportunities for people in their local areas.

Holy Trinity, Stalybridge

The first of these was piloted at HTS in the summer of 2019 at which more than 400 people attended.

“Science should be a joy and an opportunity for everybody to enjoy the wonder and beauty of our world and the universe,” said Dr Gavin Merrifield, project co-director.

“Learning more about science is also a way to unlock the potential of individuals and our communities.

Gavin Merrifield and Gary Kennaugh

“We are looking forward to exploring all of this and more through our new project and thank ECLAS for supporting us in this.”

ECLAS has distributed £665,000 to more than 70 churches through its Scientists in Congregations programme since 2014.

The Rev Prof David Wilkinson, project director of ECLAS and principal of St John’s College, Durham University, said: “We are delighted to be working with churches on such promising projects, and look forward to seeing how congregations and the communities they serve engage with science and faith in fresh and exciting ways.

“We are proud to offer additional funding for follow-on projects for the first time this year, which will help churches reach even more people with the message that science is a gift from God.”

The Rev Gary Kennaugh, vicar at HTS and the project co-director, said: “This is going to be a fantastic project for local churches and the local communities, we are praying for those who take part to experience how science can help us to find out more about our loving creator God and get closer to Jesus.”

The full list of churches and organisations receiving funding to participate in Scientists in Congregations 2021-22 includes Chester, Exeter, Lichfield, Liverpool and St German’s cathedrals.

More information is available at www.eclasproject.org/congregations/

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