What Is the Most Interesting Way You Have Heard of Celebrating Evolution Weekend?

Because Evolution Weekend celebrations take place in hundreds of congregations all around the globe, there are as many ways to celebrate as there are congregations. Regardless of the specific activity, however, the goals of Evolution Weekend are the same:

• to demonstrate that hundreds of congregations and tens of thousands of congregants understand that they do not need to choose between religion and science

• to protect mainstream religion from those who are attempting to define religious belief so narrowly that millions of deeply pious individuals are excluded

• to provide an opportunity to elevate the quality of the dialogue about the relationship between religion and science

This year, Evolution Weekend’s seventh, a number of events stand out for me. Each of the three that I’m going to mention have used the framework of Evolution Weekend to delve deeply into the intersection of the different but related worldviews of religion and science. In each case, they’ve moved beyond a religious service to create a space for more reflection and sharing.

• The First Baptist Church of Gaithersburg in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is running a six-week course focused on John Haught’s book Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God, and The Drama of Life. The course will conclude on Sunday with a sermon exploring the compatibility of faith and science.

• The Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ and Grace United Church of Christ, both in Frederick, Maryland, are teaming up to sponsor two events. A special worship service will take place at Grace UCC and will feature speakers from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. They will discuss how each of their religious traditions is compatible with science. The adult forum at Evangelical Reformed UCC will offer a four-week course led by a clergy member and a professional biologist. The course will address ways in which Christians have reconciled their faith with scientific findings, will explore specifics of biological evolution, and will investigate how other religions have dealt with the issue.

• Diverse congregations in the Corning/Elmira, New York, area have developed a tradition of celebrating together. This year the First United Methodist Church in Corning hosted a viewing of an international conference discussing human evolution. Additionally, Congregation Kol Ami, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Big Flats, the First Baptist Church of Painted Post, and the Islamic Association of Finger Lakes will each mark the event with a service.

Finally, I can’t resist mentioning the tradition begun several years ago by the Reverend David Coleman and the Reverend Zam Walker of the United Reformed Church in Greenock West, Scotland. Working with their young son who has a fascination with dinosaurs, they annually subtitle their event Dinosaur Sunday and use the event to confirm “the mutual contribution of faith and science.” Each year, they create a video to invite people to their service. Enjoy the invitations from this year and last!

As you can see, there are numerous ways to celebrate Evolution Weekend. If you would like to read some of the sermons that have been delivered on past weekends, browse the hundreds on our web site.

Happy Evolution Weekend!

Michael Zimmerman is the founder and executive director of The Clergy Letter Project.

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