REVerberations – February 2014
And so we enter this New Year with hope and renewed commitment to make a difference in the world. As you can read at other places in this edition of Highlights, our work on transitional housing continues to build momentum. We now have groups actively engaged with three shelters in the Human Service Program system which serves all of Carroll County. Our efforts at feeding people in need continue to grow stronger, more diverse, and more comprehensive; we are discovering more and more of the “more” in Meal and More. By way of congregational representatives, we are actively advocating in various community forums for services and programs that move people from homelessness to housing. The St. Paul’s Grant Foundation is being re-directed this year to programs which keep in place local people at risk of losing their homes. And we are actively leading the way with a new idea to actually create jobs in a cottage industry kind of context for people who want to work but cannot find jobs. With each new endeavor, there are new needs and opportunities that present themselves.
Yet there are standing outreach-oriented commitments that also require our attention and that also make a difference in the world. Way back in 2006, I signed on to something called the “Clergy Letter Project.” I am proud to say that I was in one of the earliest waves of signers of that document. The Letter was initiated by Dr. Michael Zimmerman as an attempt to provide defense against arguments that creationism should be taught as science in schools. And, in years past, this congregation has signed on to the outgrowth of the Letter, an annual event called Evolution Weekend. In the early days, we were intent on doing something in conjunction with this effort which has national and international reach. Since then, our focus on Evolution Weekend has waned. So I was tempted not to sign on for this year.
Then I received an email from a colleague of Dr. Zimmerman who reminded me that there is, unbelievably, still an urgent need for support to ensure that science classes in schools remain science classes and that they don’t become religion or pseudo-religion classes that teach creationism as science. He noted that the sheer force of numbers of mainline clergy and congregations involved in the Project has helped prevent school systems from inserting creationism into science curricula around the country. Importantly, the Project helped fend off efforts to do just that in Texas which, because of its size, has considerable influence on textbook publishing nationally.
In looking at the website (www.theclergyletterproject.org), I see that there are now 12,901 Christian clergy signatures on the letter, along with 509 rabbis, 277 Unitarian Universalist clergy, and 23 Buddhist clergy. There are announcements that the United Methodist Church has endorsed the letter along with a couple of smaller mainline Christian jurisdictions. The United Church of Christ went one step further by designating Science, Faith, and Technology Sunday to highlight the compatibility of science and religion. I note as well that 504 congregations have signed up for this year’s Evolution Weekend. And we will be number 505.
While there is a great need to re-double our efforts at making a difference locally, we can still do things like participate in this important national effort to ensure quality education for our children and a prosperous future for our country and our world. If you have ideas about how we might celebrate Evolution Weekend this year (in February), please let me know.