ECUSA Releases Catechism of Creation to Educate and Train Believers

The newly released on-line publication of "A Catechism of Creation: An Episcopal Understanding," will be a useful tool for learning and evangelism, according to some theologians and scientists.

Now available on-line at www.episcopalchurch.org/science, the document was designed for educational purposes within the congregations by the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA)'s Committee on Science, Technology and Faith.

They were organized into three main sections, in question-and-answer format, all of which are said to be useful in a variety of situations, age groups, and ministry fields.

The document was initially organized by the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and editor of the Anglican Digest, at the Committee meeting in April 2003. The work was then drafted and edited by the Committee Co-chair Robert J. Schneider, a retired professor of classics and general studies from Berea College, where he pioneered a course on "Science and Faith."

"The goal of the Catechism is to remind people of the importance of the glory of creation and the ways in which it touches people's faith every day," said the Rev. Harmon,

The first part, titled "A Theology of Creation," provides basic biblical and historical theological understandings of creation.

The second section, "Creation and Science," explores how religion and science interact and brings up the traditional Anglican view on the evolutionary and theological understandings of creation.

Committee member Sandra Michael, professor in the Department of Biological Studies at New York's Binghamton University, called the publication "especially important for our youth."

"Many want to go into a science-related field, but often feel they can't talk about their faith in scientific circles. The Catechism of Creation should help them," she said.

Part three, "Caring for Creation," delves into the biblical and theological principles underlying human stewardship of and partnership with the creation.

"Many of them have negative opinions about churches because they think of Christians as being aligned with people who want to exploit the earth's natural resources selfishly," said Jim Jordan, member of the Committee.

"The Creation Catechism plainly shows that is not true, and instead offers theological and ethical underpinnings for responsible environmentalists. It's an ideal tool for evangelism to those concerned for the environment."

"I always get satisfaction out of meeting the challenge to state things succinctly and simply without losing the nuances," Schneider.

Jim Miller, senior program associate of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said the Catechism "provides a clear affirmation of creation theology that is fully cognizant of and consistent with the best contemporary scientific understanding of nature."

"This is a good example of the science and theology dialogue in action. It should be useful at many age levels," he added.

Committees in other denominations have begun studying the Catechism and are responding to the Episcopal document.

Bishop Jim Kelsey of Northern Michigan said, "Those who espouse 'Creationism' have seemed to lay claim (at least in public vernacular) to the word 'Creation.'"

"It's as if there's been an abdication by more mainline traditions of the language, so that it's assumed by many that people of faith reject evolution and other scientific learnings and theories, and that people who focus on scientific thought reject outright any truths and insights garnered from faith. It's a false dichotomy."

Kelsey said the Catechism materials "offer a way of weaving together the threads so that faith and scientific knowledge can be a tapestry, helping us see the mystery at the heart of God's creation without blinding us to the [scientific] disciplines which have become so integrated into our culture."