Cheshire churches engage with science


undefinedSt John's church in Lindow, Wilmslow has been awarded a grant aimed at helping churchgoers engage confidently with science. During the year long project church members from Cheshire will meet scientists, visit observatories and host a Halloween astronomy light party.

There will also be a  ‘God and the Big Bang’ school event along with Advent lectures looking at everything from the birth of Jesus to the star of Bethlehem. Science will be discussed at a men’s breakfast at a local golf club. An essay writing competition will engage young people and various day conferences will take place culminating in a major conference for Church of England congregations across Cheshire.

The St John’s ‘Confident Christian Engagement with Science’  project, due to start in September 2016, is one of eight  to receive funding of up to £10,000 in the first round of the Scientists in Congregations scheme. The scheme hopes to raise the profile of Christians whose vocation is science-related and change the debate about science and faith.

Professor David Christopher Watts, who is one of the directors of the St John’s project, said; “We are delighted to have been awarded the grant. St John’s has a long-standing interest in the interface between the Christian faith and science. We hope that congregational members – of all ages - gain an enhanced appreciation of the bond between  Christianity and science. We hope that young people contemplating scientific careers will be encouraged and will gain a realistic insight into their aptitude for a scientific career, especially through friendly mentoring by established scientists in the congregation.”

The three co directors of the project all worship at St John’s Lindow. The Rev Simon Gales, Dr Althea Wilkinson and Professor David Christopher Watts, are scientifically qualified, theologically literate and highly experienced public speakers. They will make presentations and give several project lectures during the year.  They all have a passion to mentor younger scientist-Christians, and those in mid-career, so that they can effectively communicate to future generations. During the project they will mentor younger scientists in the congregation.

About St John’s Lindow
The local population around the church building has a high proportion of educated professionals many with a scientific background, employed in local businesses and enterprises. These include, within close proximity, Astra Zeneca, the Alderley BioHub, Waters Corporation, the Universities of Manchester, Salford and MMU; Jodrell Bank and AMEC Nnc Ltd.

The church congregation of some 180 people has at least fifteen members who are professionals in science/engineering and medicine. These include a professor of biomaterials science, of paediatric otolaryngology and of mechanical engineering; senior lecturers in radio astronomy and imaging sciences; a consultant cardiologist, and a number of senior biochemists and biologists.

About the directors of the project
Professor David Christopher Watts is the main project director. He is Professor of Biomaterials Science at the University of Manchester and a fellow of the Institute of Physics, The Royal Society of Chemistry & The Royal Society of Biology. He is also a Alexander von Humboldt Laureate and has been a leading member of the Christians in Science group for 30+ years. He is also an experienced mountaineer.

The vicar, Rev Simon Gales (pictured top right) is a highly qualified Chartered Engineer and worked for 10 years in the nuclear industry with a focus on seismic analysis and earthquake resistant design, prior to ordination training. He has been Vicar of St John’s Lindow since 1997

Dr Althea Wilkinson, worked in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester, where she was a lecturer for 9 years. She was the UK Project Manager for the European Space Agency Planck mission Low Frequency Instrument, which was studying the Cosmic Microwave Background. She was Project Manager at Jodrell Bank Observatory for the Signal and Data Transport (SaDT) Consortium of the  Square Kilometre Array (SKA) which is the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope playing a major role in answering key questions in modern astrophysics and cosmology. She is now a Domain Specialist in this same Consortium. She is also Churchwarden at St John’s Lindow.


Pictured top right (left to right):
David Watts, Althea Wilkinson, Simon Gales.