The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has announced the formation of a new Anglican Communion Science Commission (ACSC) to “resource the whole Anglican Communion for courageous and confident spiritual leadership in issues involving science.”
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, will co-chair the Commission, alongside the Church of England’s Bishop of Oxford, the Right Revd Stephen Croft.
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, is inviting scientists, theologians, and bishops from around the globe to serve as Commissioners; and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, has asked his fellow Anglican Communion Primates to nominate a Bishop from their Church to serve as their provincial representative at conferences of the Commission.
The Anglican Communion Science Commission will formally launch at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, which will take place at the University of Kent in Canterbury in July and August 2022. It will hold its first conference shortly afterwards.
Science will be a significant feature at the 2022 Lambeth Conference. Today, a series of videos exploring the relationship between science and faith were published on the Lambeth Conference website: lambethconference.org/resources/talking-about-faith-and-science.
“It is scientific advance that has lifted so many people out of poverty. It is scientific advance that has enabled the world to feed itself”, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in the introductory video.
“It is widespread science that has enabled us to produce vaccines at a speed that even five years ago – a year ago – would have been thought unimaginable. It is science that has begun to give us a big picture of our place in the world. It is science that has driven our consciousness of the danger to the world from climate change – and what we can do about it in the future.
“In all these things, it is science which has been a gift to human beings.”
He continued: “But the reaction of the Church has, for many years – and many centuries one might say, been very cautious about science and remains so today. Or there is fear.
“We talk about human beings playing at being God, we talk about loss of control; of changes to DNA. We talk about all kinds of things that lead to people being frightened. And particularly as we move and look forward over the next 10 or 20 years, if we think it has been quick so far, as President Reagan used to say: ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet.’
“That is a reason why Christians need to be both knowledgeable and able to ask questions and think about science.”
Among the scientists who have signed up so far as Commission members are Dr Derrick Aarons, the Chief Executive Officer at the Health Professions Authority in the Turks and Caicos Islands; Professor Kwamena Sagoe, Head of Virology at the University of Ghana’s Department of Medical Microbiology and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Virology; and Dr Heather Payne, a consultant paediatrician and Senior Medical Officer for the Welsh Government.
Theologians who have agreed to serve on the Commission include the Revd Professor Joseph Galgalo, former Vice Chancellor and Associate Professor of Theology at Saint Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya; the Revd Canon Professor Jennifer Strawbridge, Associate Professor in New Testament Studies at the University of Oxford in the UK; and Professor Andrew Briggs, Professor of Nanomaterials at the University of Oxford, an expert in acoustic microscopy and materials for quantum technologies.
Professor Briggs is also acting as convenor of the ACSC as it begins its work ahead of its formal launch at next year’s Lambeth Conference.
Information about the work of the Anglican Communion Science Commission will be published on the Anglican Communion website: anglicancommunion.org/acsc.