|October 22, 2015
Dear WesleyNexus Colleague:
A lot has happened since the last newsletter. While it is easy to get fixated on political news from
Washington, it is important to keep plugged into what is happening beyond Capitol Hill politics. Sometimes
events overlap as we saw last month with the March for Science on April 21 and the Peoples Climate
March, both of which took place in Washington, DC and other locations around the country. WesleyNexus
was there. You can see some of the pictures taken by WesleyNexus participants below. WesleyNexus also
participated in the yearly Ecumenical Roundtable for Science, Technology and the Faith, a meeting of
mainline church groups dedicated to the belief that science and faith are complementary and enrich each
other when one is open to the insights of the other. Jennifer Secki Shields previewed her work in Christian
Education at the Biologos conference in Houston, TX and Dr. Roy Clouser spoke at Bethesda United
Methodist Church on “How Do we Talk about Genesis in the 21st Century?” In all of these engagements,
WesleyNexus joined with others, frequently from very different backgrounds and faiths, to identify and
work towards greater understanding and social justice in a world that is rapidly changing. These
engagements can be broadly understood as progressive. Progressive in this sense should not be understood
politically but as an attitude of working with others towards a better world. The Wesleyan tradition has
always been progressive in this sense. In our newsletter this month, we are focusing on this progressive
tradition. In addition, we are including resources (articles and videos) on panentheism and process
theology. Both these concepts are deeply related to progressive thinking. We hope that you will find these
articles and videos instructive and helpful in stimulating discussion.
We continue to appreciate the collaborating groups and sponsors that helped us underwrite expenses for our
February live-streamed event, especially The Clergy Letter Project and the Institute for Religion in an Age
of Science, but also the several churches and individuals who have sent donations since January 1. Now
our budget is in a state of recovery, so if you can manage a contribution, large or small, it will help us
tremendously as we develop and present several additional programs during the year. WesleyNexus is a 501
(c)(3) charitable, educational organization, and we will acknowledge all gifts from individuals for tax
Please send us your pictures of the March for Science to WesleyNexus@aol.com. When we receive them
we will post them here.
24500 Fossen Road
Damascus, MD 20872
Thanks in advance for your support.
Rick, Maynard, and the rest of the
WesleyNexus Board of Directors
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Dr. Roy Clouser visited in Bethesda and Washington DC, May 19-21
WesleyNexus was pleased to co-sponsor a public presentation on the topic "How Do
we Talk about Genesis in the 21st Century?" This event was held May 19th, co-hosted
by the Bethesda United Methodist Church, Bethesda, MD where the Rev Jenny
Cannon serves as Pastor. Dr. Roy Clouser is professor emeritus of philosophy and
religion at the College of New Jersey. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University
of Pennsylvania, and in 1997 won a Templeton Foundation award for his course in
science and religion. A popular lecturer, Dr. Clouser spoke also with the American
Scientific Affiliation’s Washington Metropolitan Chapter on Saturday evening May 20. He also met for a
luncheon discussion with the science and religion group sponsored by the Washington Theological
Consortium, and spoke on Sunday morning May 21 at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington
DC, hosted by Dr. Paul Arveson. Bethesda United Methodist Church was a perfect location for the Mat 19
program since this congregation has a number of NIH scientists in its membership and a regular discussion
class each Sunday morning, chaired by Dr. Donald Ross, that includes a number of WesleyNexus
participants. The program on May 19th drew about 35 people on a stormy evening, all of whom seemed
deeply engaged with the topic, based on a recent ASA article “Reading Genesis” written by Dr. Clouser. In
his presentation, Clouser made several key points: (1) Genesis must be correctly read to be correctly
understood, and that means reading poetry as poetry, reading narrative as narrative, and reading the Bible
contextually, not as a science encyclopedia. (2) He showed how the creation account in Genesis 1 is
structured formally to convey the message that God is the creator and sustainer of all that is, not as a
historical account presaging the “big bang.” In the question and answer period, which lasted more than an
hour, Clouser helped many in the audience come to a new appreciation of time as more than a “counting of
days” and showed graphically how the ancient Hebrew writers conveyed the essence of the relationship of
God to the people within the concept of a covenant. Dr. Clouser’s article published in the ASA Journal
(December 2016 issue) can be found here.
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March for Science, April 22, 2017
Thousands participated in the March for Science on April 22, in Washington,
DC, and in cities across the country and around the world. Religious groups
were well represented among the science supporters and enthusiasts gathered
for the day's activities. For many, faith convictions compelled them to show
their support for the process and societal benefits of science. See the May 3, 2017 article by Christine A.
WesleyNexus was present and could be seen in our specially designed t-shirts produced just for the walk.
We celebrated faith and science together! See the WesleyNexus webpage for the link:
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Ecumenical Roundtable for Science, Faith and the Church
The Lutheran Center
Friday, April 28, 2017, Chicago, Illinois
From early April 26 through April 29th, representatives of five mainline Protestant
denominations met to affirm the importance of science and religion and to provide
energy and encouragement for these efforts in the coming year. The first two days
were spent on internal discussions and planning followed by two days of joint sharing,
presentations, meals and worship. The host for the program was the Evangelical Lutheran Church of
America (ELCA) which graciously provided meeting rooms and meals for those days. Rick Barr was
present representing WesleyNexus and unofficially representing the United Methodist Church. During
those two days we had a chance to share what we were doing to promote dialogue within our churches and
to gather information about the efforts of the other denominations.
The Ecumenical Roundtable has been active for many decades, starting in the 1980s with consultations
between members of the National Council of Churches of Christ, including the United Methodist Church,
the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ and the ELCA, all active in the current
Roundtable. WesleyNexus has participated since our founding as the unofficial representative of the United
Methodist Church and more broadly, smaller denominations in the Wesleyan tradition.
As indicated on the newly published website, hosted by the ELCA, the purpose of the Roundtable is as
We are clergy and lay, scientists, technicians and those who come to science and technology from a
The purpose of the Roundtable is to share experiences, information and, where possible, material
resources related to these initiatives; to provide mutual encouragement in the effort to elevate scientific
and technological issues in the lives of the churches; and to engage in projects of mutual interest.”
• Engaging, connecting, and communicating good science in our ecumenical church communities
• Addressing complex issues that might be created by or solved by newly-gained understandings and
• Exhibiting awe toward the richly unfolding universe; and gratitude for the tools of science and
• Reflecting on justice concerns and policy
• Supporting faithful stewardship of science and technology in service of our neighbors and Creation,
with attention to sustainability and quality of life around the globe
The last two days of the meeting were accented by three lectures given by two
scientists and one theologian. Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase, an astronomer at the
Adler Planetarium and a senior research associate in the Department of Astronomy
and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, was the first to present.
Wolf-Chase talked about her journey into the faith and science dialogue and her current
initiative in encouraging non-scientists to join real scientific research as “citizen
scientists”. Her talk, “Connecting Public Science Participation with Faith Communities”, described how
ordinary citizens are getting involved in real scientific projects sponsored by established research institutions
such as Adler and Oxford University, two leaders in this effort.
Dr. Wolf-Chase has granted us the privilege to post the slides of her presentation here (reformatted for our
Later on that Friday, two additional talks were given. The first was “What the Heck
is CRISPR & Why it Matters: A Quick Review” given by Dr. Gayle Woloschak. Dr
Woloschak isa professor of Radiation Oncology at Northwestern University in Chicago
andadjunct professor of Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology
Chicago (LSTC), and at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She holds a Ph.D. in
Biomedical Sciences from the University of Toledo (Medical College of Ohio), and
a D.Min. in Eastern Christian Studies from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. For some,
this was old news but for others her talk helped to peel back the mystery of this new and awesome
technology. CRISPR at its most basic level enables scientists to leverage natural functions within viruses to
target specific sequences within DNA structures for splicing and insertion. What makes CRISPR so
awesome in both the hopeful and frightening is th way the technology can manipulate the genetic profile of
a specific organism or perhaps even an entire species. The ethical implications are truly staggering. This is
where people of faith need to become engaged and to become engaged one needs to be informed. Dr.
Woloschak helped those in attendance to become more informed. WesleyNexus sponsored a similar
program earlier this year, with a presentation by visiting professor Dr. Ted Peters, whose writing on this
and related subjects is often featured in the journal Theology and Science, published by the Center for
Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley.
Later that evening, The Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing continued the discussion of
Christian ethics in the age of CRISPR with her talk “Christ the Healer and the Age
of Biological Manipulation”. Dr. Barbara Rossing, is a professor of New Testament
at LSTC, where she has taught since 1994. Her talk included a discussion of the risks
and rewards of pursuing these technologies and how they may affect the call to social
The ELCA has committed resources towards hosting a new website to support the Roundtable. While the
current information posted is minimal there are plans in place to expand the content to support the
Roundtable and others interested in Roundtable activities. The website can be found here.
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Ecumenical Roundtable for Science, Faith and the Church Participants
Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology:
(From the Covalence Website)
“The Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science, and Technology is dedicated to expanding
awareness and promoting conversation about the implications of science and technology
for Christian faith and life. (Prior to becoming the Alliance for Faith, Science and
Technology in 2002, the effort was known as the Working Group for Faith, Science and
In 1987, 45 young scientists, technologists, and theologians from 5 continents and 17 countries gathered in
Larnaca, Cyprus in for a consultation entitled, “The New Scientific/Technological World: What Differences
Does It Make for the Church?” The meeting, sponsored by the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) in
cooperation from the Lutheran World Federation, was organized by the Rev. John Mangum, director for
planning, LCA Division for World Mission and Ecumenism. This meeting was the genesis of the Lutheran
Alliance for Faith, Science, and Technology, as well as similar groups in other denominations.
Since 1991, the Alliance has been an independent Lutheran organization recognized by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) with liaison through the Theological Discernment Team in the Office
of the Presiding Bishop. The membership includes scientists, science teachers, rostered leaders (clergy and
lay), and other interested lay people.”
Covalence is the official website that supports the Lutheran science and religion initiative and is open to
anyone. On this site there are news articles and announcements, longer featured articles and
commentaries. It can be found here:
Lutheran pastor Bruce Booher also has a website called Mystery, Awe and Wonder here.
Presbyterian Association on Science, Technology, and the Christian Faith
(From the PASTCF Website.)
What is PASTCF's general purpose?
To challenge and assist the Presbyterian Church (USA), at all levels, to study, understand, discuss,
and act on the implications of science and technology as they affect the theology, worship, practice.
What are PASTCF's objectives?
To provide for the exchange of ideas and information among the members and to develop programs
as appropriate to the interest of the members and the needs of the church.
What are some of PASTCF's major activities?
We publish the journal SciTech† quarterly.
We maintain the Association's website, www.pastcf.org
We provide members with a brief bibliography and make available a variety of other resources.
The website contains a wide variety of information on what the PCUSA is doing, highlighted by their
quarterly journal. Copies are available online going back to 2013 here..
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ was one of the original denominations engaged in ecumenical dialogue on
science and faith. Until recently, they have supplied staff and resources to the initiative but, due to
challenges related to the changing times, they are in the process of reflecting on how best to engage as a
denomination. Since 2008, however, their initiatives have been defined by a 2008 following pastoral letter
written by The Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ.
From A New Voice Arising: A Pastoral Letter on Faith Engaging Science and Technology
The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church is currently in the process of discerning how best to be engaged at the Roundtable in
the coming years. Our Church now has a large scale church-wide Stewardship of Creation effort which
stemmed from our previous Executive Council Committee on Science, Technology, and Faith, a long time
and very active participant in the Roundtable. WesleyNexus will continue to reach out to them as they
discern their future direction.
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Why it Matters and Where to Begin:
As persons of faith struggle to understand how faith can be both believable and effective in a world
dominated by science and pluralism, many thoughtful, searching scholars have proposed adjustments in
how we understand the God/World relationship. One approach that has made significant inroads in
understanding this relationship is known as anentheism. While not everyone is convinced that this is the
best model, it is affirmed by a significant number of writers within the science and religion dialogue,
including many in the Wesleyan traditions such as John Cobb, Schubert Ogden, Marjorie Suchocki,
Catherine Keller, Tom Oord and Roger Wolsey. Below you will find links to three short videos by Roger
Wolsey that explain panentheism and also progressive Christianity. In addition, there are two videos by
Roger Ray, a pastor at Community Christian Church in Springfield, MO.
What is Panentheism, Roger Wolsey? | Conversations with Peacemakers by Roger Wolsey
Roger Wolsey, author of Kissing Fish, sat down for a series of discussions
as part of a series of Conversations with Peacemakers sponsored by the Clayton
Valley Presbyterian Church in Clayton, CA. The series explores how Christians
can be come closer to God and Christ through faith and practice. Other topics
are available on YouTube.com.
What is Panentheism
What is Progressive Christianity
How does Progressive Christianity Differ from Fundamentalist Christianity
Roger Wolsey is an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church. He has served as a pastor for
churches in Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado. He currently serves as the Director of the Wesley Foundation
campus ministry at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. He is the author of Kissing Fish:
Christianity for People Who Don't Like Christianity.
What Do We Mean When We Say "God"? by Dr. Roger Ray
We say that "God is love" but what does that really mean? Beyond the soft
"feel good" aspects of extolling love as the principal characteristic of God,
how do we actually incorporate that into our lives and our spirituality?
Time to Talk about Trinity, Monotheism and Panentheism
Dr. Roger Ray holds masters and doctoral degrees in divinity from Vanderbilt University as well as a
bachelor in philosophy from Murray State University. He was a 2004 Merriell Fellow at Harvard Divinity
School. His most recent books, Progressive Faith and Practice and Progressive Conversations, have led to
many invitations to speak both in the United States and in Great Britain. Dr. Ray wrote an ethics column
for the Springfield News-Leader for more than 20 years and has had many sermons published in
professional preaching journals over his long career. He had 28 years of experience in pastoral ministry
before becoming the founding pastor of Community Christian Church in August of 2008.
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What to do Next?
Reminder: The Chautauqua Institution 2017 Programs
“The Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre community on
Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State, where approximately
7,500 persons are in residence on any day during a nine-week season, and
a total of over 100,000 attend scheduled public events.
Chautauqua is dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life through a
program that explores the important religious, social and political issues of our times; stimulates
provocative, thoughtful involvement of individuals and families in creative response to such issues; and
promotes excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.”
You can find more information about Chautauqua here.
A recent article in the NY Times can be found here.
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Reminder: IRAS Summer Conference, June 24 – July 1, on Star Island
Soon it will be time for the IRAS summer conference on Star Island.
We don’t want you to miss out: The "Wicked Problem" of
Climate Change: What is it doing to us and for us? The 63rd annual
Summer Conference in 2017 is organized in collaboration with the
Parliament of the World’s Religions. It should be an enlightening and enriching program you will not want
to miss, and as a WesleyNexus participant, you will qualify for a 30% discount on registration. Below
you will find a brief description of the conference and speakers. For more information about the program,
speakers and Star Island, please visit this new website specifically for our conference -
2017 IRAS Conference Website. As always, you can also find information on the IRAS website.
Climate change is a “wicked problem” with causes and consequences in economic, ecological, ethical, and
technological realms. As climate change continues to alter our planet, how can we use this monumental
change as an opportunity for societal and spiritual transformation? What is the way forward? We must
confront climate change as a planetary community. It affects every institution, society, public policy,
culture and ecosystem into the foreseeable future. Every possible course of action intertwines with issues of
international and intra-societal economic and social justice. Climate change is a multi-generational,
transnational “wicked problem” with no single, simple solution.
If you would like a paper registration form visit Star Island's website for instructions -
Star Island Registration.
If you have questions about registration, please reach out to our Registrar, Marion Griswold, at
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Why Theologians Need Spirituality and Spiritual Guides Need Theology by Bruce Epperly
Bruce Epperly has spent the bulk of his career promoting practical implementations
for spirituality using the panentheist/process model. Epperly was a student of John
Cobb, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and one of the top process
scholars in the world and longtime Director of the Center for Process Studies.
Continuing Cobb's legacy, Epperly has written numerous books and articles on
Process Theology including his most recent book, Praying with Process Theology.
In this book, Epperly invites his readers to see the Christian faith with new eyes and
take a seven week spiritual journey with him as he explores how procees, panentheist and progressive
concepts can enrich faith. The seven week program provides a weekly chapter summary and reflections
for each day of the week. Each day’s meditation begins with a quote from a process scholar followed by
additional reflection from Epperly. Then the reader is invited to do their own thinking by reflecting on
three areas, faith affirmation, faithful action and prayer.
Recent article on process spirituality can be found here and the book can be found here.
Epperly wrote an article for non-theologians called "Process Theology for Everyday People" which can
be found here.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, pastor, spiritual guide, author, and recognized leader in lay and pastoral faith
formation; Bruce Epperly serves as Pastor at South Congregational Church, Centerville, MA. He has
served on the faculties and often in administrative and chaplaincy roles at Georgetown University,
Claremont School of Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Prior
to coming to South Congregational Church, he served as Director of Continuing Education and Professor of
Practical Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. Concurrently with his faculty and academic
appointments, he has served as pastor or interim pastor of congregations in Virginia, Maryland, and
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A Quantum of Time by Philip Ball
JJohn Haldane, a prominent biologist of the last century, is well known for saying that “it is my supposition
that the Universe in not only queerer than we imagine, it is queerer than we can imagine.” In the linked
BBC article here, this insight seems to play out in spades. In this article, “the quantum-mechanical picture
of time's arrow leads to something deeply peculiar. In some experiments, it looks as though influences can
work backwards in time. The future can affect the past.” Termed retro-causality, this phenomenon is
viewed by some as an illusion but, as physicist George Ellis interprets it, “we can regard retro-causality as a
kind of fuzziness in the crystalisation of the present. Quantum physics appears to allow some degree of
influence of the present on the past, as indicated by delayed-choice experiments," he says. Ellis has argued
that “the past is not always fully defined at any instant. It is like a block of ice that contains little blobs of
water that have not yet crystallized.” Interestingly, some process philosophers and theologians have
proposed something similar.
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Descartes was wrong: ‘a person is a person through other persons’by Abeba Birhane
AAbeba Birhane is pursuing a PhD in cognitive science at University College Dublin.
She blogs regularly about embodied cognition and “the enactive approach” to cognitive
In this article, Birhane reflects on what it means to be a person. While she admits that
most “scientific psychology is only too willing to adopt individualistic Cartesian assumptions that cut away
the webbing that ties the self to others”, another view is possible and complementary. Using the term
“ena” or selfhood which comes from Ubuntu philosophy, people are born without selfhood but acquire it
through experience and relationships over time. She also points to a Zulu insight, ‘Umuntu ngumuntu
ngabantu’, which means ‘A person is a person through other persons.’ For Birhane, this is a richer and
better understanding of what a person is than the Cartesian cogito, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ I think St.
Paul would agree. Her reflection can be found