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Faith in Mind neuroscience project among winners of ECLAS funding

15 July 2022


People representing organisations awarded grants by the Scientists in Congregations programme in Durham, last September

People representing organisations awarded grants by the Scientists in Congregations programme in Durham, last September

A CHURCH network that supports people with mental-health problems is among 13 bodies to receive grants from an organisation that explores the relationship between science and religion.

The Faith in Mind project, run by Sunderland Connect, an interdenominational churches network on Wearside, will receive £10,720 from the Scientists in Congregations programme, which is run by Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science (ECLAS). The scheme explores mental-health issues through neuroscience and psychology, and will include workshops for church leaders and volunteers on topics such as inter-generational trauma and the neuroscience of addiction.

The project co-ordinator of Faith in Mind, Deb Fozzard, said: “The training we can now provide to churches will bring insight into the mind of someone with addiction. This is a valuable tool for the churches, and will empower and equip them to be more effective when supporting those caught up in addiction.”

In total, ECLAS is donating £125,000 during 2022-23 to ten churches and three seminaries for science-and-faith projects. They include Messy Church Goes Wild; a science festival; a science-themed “café church”; and a guided STEM trail: a way of looking at science, technology, engineering, and maths using the local environment.

Three theological colleges will share £36,000 to host lectures, events, and discussions incorporating science into theological education. They are St Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, in County Kildare, Ireland; Union Theological College, Belfast; and Anscombe Bioethics Centre, in partnership with St Mary’s College, Oscott, in Birmingham.

ECLAS’s project co-director, the Revd Professor David Wilkinson, said that the projects that would receive funding “imaginatively demonstrate how science is at the heart of Christian faith, recognising it as a gift from God and recognising the vocation of scientists”.

He said that the grants for theological colleges would give those training for ministry “the opportunity to engage with modern scientific and ethical questions, which is vital for effective pastoral care”.

Since 2014, more than 80 churches have received £750,000 through the programme.

The ten groups to receive the latest funding are St Albans Cathedral; Sunderland Connect Network; York Minster; Chester Cathedral; the Bible Reading Fellowship; Christ Church, West Green, in London; the Baptist Union Environment Network (BUEN); St Paul’s, Knightsbridge; the churches of Great Missenden with Ballinger and Little Hampden, in Oxfordshire; and St Mark’s Church/Xplore!, in Wrexham.

The current phase of ECLAS began in January 2020 and runs for three years, funded by a £3.4-million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust.

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