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International Center of Faith, Science and History now at Hood seminary

SALISBURY — Hood Theological Seminary has established the International Center of Faith, Science and History, using a Science in Seminaries grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Sharon Grant and Mary Love are the project director and teaching faculty for the center. An inaugural program, “The Matrix and Memory of Water: Commemorating 400 years Through Faith, Science and History,” was held Sept. 13 to celebrate the grant and announce the opening of the center.

The program began with a panel titled African-Americans and Science. The keynote speaker was Professor Emeritus Charles H. Long of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Long’s presentation began with a statement from Aristotle, “All men desire to know.”

He described the discipline of science as a method of inquiry and shared his love for mathematics and his aspiration to become an engineer as a young World War II veteran. He related the historic perils of scientific experimentation for African-Americans with a charge for the center to engage in exploring the integration of science and religion in its expression of African diasporic religion in the New World.

The panel of respondents included Josette Wilkes, assistant professor of chemistry at Livingstone College; Theodore Walker Jr., associate professor of theology and society; and Carol T. Mitchell, professor emerita of STEM education at the University of Nebraska.

The panel was followed by a worship service commemorating the quadcentennial of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in English-speaking North America. The guest preacher for the service was the Rev. Teresa Fry Brown, Bandy chair of preaching at Candler School of Theology and the historiographer and executive director of research and scholarship for the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Her sermon, “How to Survive Justice Fatigue,” reflected on 400 years of resistance against oppression in the United States.

Students, faculty and staff of Hood Theological Seminary as well as residents of Salisbury, Charlotte and Winston-Salem attended the inaugural program.

C.G. Newsome, former dean of Howard Divinity School, called the program historic. Eric Williams, a curator at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, invited people who have not yet visited the museum to plan a trip to see exhibits on what African Americans have endured and accomplished.

Grant envisions that the center will be a sustainable repository for dialogue on science and religion at Hood after the grant has been exhausted. She and Love work with scientists and religious scholars to integrate scientific topics into religious courses at Hood and coordinate community programs that integrate science with community activities.

Lastly, the new center will generate podcasts that feature topics and guests that integrate religion and science with the objective of improving scientific literacy among religious leaders and laity.

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