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Episcopalians join ecumenical partners seeking to celebrate creation
Keggi first recipient of Genesis Award

By Phina Borgeson
4/18/2005
[ENS, SANTA FE, New Mexico]  The Episcopal Network for Science, Technology and Faith honored the Rev. Dr. J. John Keggi when their steering committee met April 9 at Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The citation for the first Genesis Award for Science and Religion recognized Keggi, a priest of the Diocese of Maine now retired in Massachusetts, as a "prophet and pioneering leader" in the field.

Keggi, whose scientific background includes a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, had served as convener of the Episcopal Fellowship of Ordained Scientists and of the Episcopal delegation to the Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology and the Church. He continues as co-convener of the North American Chapter of the Society of Ordained Scientists, an Anglican fellowship which meets annually in Britain, and assists with the newsletter and other communication ministries of the
Network.

Reflecting on his service over the years, Keggi noted that the companionship of fellow theologian-scientists has been most important to his ministry.

Catechism of Creation is just the beginning, committee notes

The Committee on Science, Technology and the Church met April 7-10 at Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, building on its restructured approach as a resource to the Episcopal Church.

Co-chair Robert Schneider, Ph.D., noted encouraging feedback from around the church on the Catechism of Creation. He charged members of the committee to identify supplementary resources to link electronically to the document. Executive Council member Bonnie Anderson commented that the Catechism of Creation "is a gift to the Church."

Committee members reported using the Catechism in adult forums and confirmation classes. They look forward to posting suggestions for using it in a variety of Christian education and formation contexts.

The Rev. Barbara Smith-Moran suggested that the Catechism and its related documents by no means exhaust the topics in science and religion about which Episcopalians are concerned. Members committed to write and review thought pieces on topics ranging from the ethical implications of nanotechnology to how to read the science news which will be added to the web-based resource center monthly.

The committee met in conjunction with parallel meetings of other denominations, and after completing its work joined in the program of the Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology and the Church.

Denominational representatives engage challenges

"Venture Science and Venture Capitalism" -- wedding unbridled capitalism to science -- poses dangers to the scientific community, the faith community, and the health of planet, according to Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics Emeritus, Union Seminary.

Rasmussen's lecture kicked off the annual meeting of the Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology and the Church, meeting at Ghost Ranch conference center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When asked during the question and answer period where listeners might read more, Rasmussen admitted that while many of the situations he described were familiar, the theological framework is part of a book he is writing.

The following afternoon participants again felt privileged to be part of theological work in progress when Antje Jackelén spoke on "Cognitive Sciences Considered." Jackelén, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science, suggested that beyond the Evolution-Creationism debate the next major theme to rock theology will be problems posed by learnings in the cognitive sciences, and particularly the cognitive sciences of religion. Believers will need greater "literacy in both science and religion" and there is the possibility that understandings of mind and body will be brought "together in a way we haven't seen since Descartes."

Jackelén pointed out that researchers tend to pick one aspect of religious life to focus on, which yields unsatisfying results for believers. She asked, "Could theologians and scientists work together on equal footing" in researching religious dimensions of the cognitive sciences? Jackelén, ordained in the Church of Sweden, is active in European and international societies dealing with science and theology.

Meeting with the local Santa Fe Theologians Institute and interested members of the public, Roundtable participants also heard "Mislabeling, Miscalculating and Misunderstanding: The Scientific Community and the Challenge of Intelligent Design" by the Rev. James B. Miller.

Miller's concluding challenge to scientists in the Christian community, to be active advocates of the compatibility of good science and good theology in their congregations, scientific communities, and civic participation, reflected his extensive experience with the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This year's meeting of the Ecumenical Roundtable included members of relevant committees in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church, as well as individual members of the United Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

-- The Rev. Josephine Borgeson of the Diocese of Northern California is an educator, writer and consultant specializing in intersections of faith, science and the environment. Ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church in 1974, she has also served in diocesan staff positions in Nevada and Los Angeles.