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Portland school one of eight to receive $75,000 Science for Seminaries grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Equipping theology students to address science as an ally rather than an adversary is the aim of a grant recently awarded to George Fox University's Portland Seminary.

GFU announced last week that it is one of eight seminaries to receive a $75,000 Science for Seminaries grant from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The grant, school officials said in a press release, will fund integration of science into the seminary's curriculum as well as a symposium focused on the relationship of cognitive science and spiritual formation.

The grant -- part of AAAS's Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program and funded by the John Templeton Foundation in conjunction with the Association of Theology Schools -– is "part of a nationwide initiative to support seminaries in their efforts to incorporate forefront science into their core curricula and to prepare future clergy to address questions of science, ethics and religion with their congregations," the release said.

At Portland Seminary, that will take shape as the Exploring Intersections of Science and Spirituality as Tools for Wellness and Healing project and will serve to revise two courses and hold Science and Spiritual Practice symposiums that "addresses the cognitive science underlying the relationship between brain neuroplasticity and spiritual formation," the release said. The first symposium is slated for February 2022.

"One of our key strategic priorities is to become a university known for the integration of science education and the Christian faith, and the promotion of intellectual Christianity," said Ekaterina Lomperis, the grant's principal along with fellow professor Dan Brunner. "We look forward to using this grant to strengthen our work of intellectually equipping our students to interact with science as an ally, rather than as an adversary, of Christian faith."

Through the grant the seminary will revise two courses next fall: Essentials in Christian Theology and Awareness & Identity II. The first will be revamped to include discussion of social-scientific research on the connection between religious participation, healing and health. The latter will incorporate a new section engaging cognitive sciences and the relationship between neuroplasticity -- defined as the brain's ability to form and reorganize synaptic connections, particularly as part of learning, experience or following an injury -– as well as spiritual formation and religious experience.

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