Ruth Shaver Receives The Sinai & Synapses Fellowship
The Sinai and Synapses Fellowship
Rev. Dr. Ruth E. Shaver, Lancaster Seminary
I graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary with my Doctor of Ministry degree in May 2016 with a project titled, “I Wonder: Scientific Exploration and Experimentation as a Practice of Christian Faith.” My work with my advisor, Dr. Anabel Proffitt; my consultation partner, Dr. Lee Barrett; and my philosophy instructor, Dr. David Mellott,* shaped the work into something that, if the excitement of colleagues when I describe the project is any indication, will be of importance to the wider church in the years to come. I am currently in the process of editing a book manuscript and making layout and editorial changes to the curriculum that serves as the basis for my work in hopes of publishing both soon. Because of research for my D.Min. and my interest in furthering my work, I was accepted as a Sinai and Synapses Fellow for 2017-2019.
Sinai and Synapses is an organization founded by Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman for many of the same reasons I ended up doing my Doctor of Ministry degree in faith and science. As the “Why It’s Needed” page of the Sinai and Synapses website says, current dialogue about science and religion is unproductive because there is no middle ground. Religious literalists and vehement atheists screech at us, “creating a lot of heat, but they are producing very little light.” In my dissertation, I positioned literalism (Creationism and Intelligent Design) as the thesis and scientific materialism (anti-religious scientific fundamentalism, in a sense) as the antithesis. Like Sinai and Synapses, I feel as though there’s a synthesis available that provides gentle heat and bright light to the conversation by raising up what faith systems best offer and what science best offers as ways to build God’s realm on Earth. Jewish theology calls this Tikkun Olam; it is the fulfillment of all that is best for humanity, particularly true justice, equality, and peace built on good stewardship of Earth’s resources for the current generations and generations to come. I also think God’s realm/Tikkun Olam encompasses opportunities for those most basic of ways in which we bear God’s image to thrive: curiosity and creativity, two essential elements of scientific exploration and discovery.
I first heard about Sinai and Synapses and the Fellowship in 2015 thanks to a newsletter feature from the Clergy Letter Project, itself an organization started to change the conversation between faith—at first specifically the Christian faith, now expanded to include Judaism, Unitarian-Universalism, and Buddhism—and scientists from confrontational to collaborative. I applied for the Sinai and Synapses Fellowship that same year, which was the first competitive year of the program, but was not selected. Even so, I was thrilled with the group that was assembled and further astonished at the quality of their work, which continues to be released even after the end of their biennium. What’s even more amazing is that I will get to work with them in 2019 when all three classes of fellows assemble, and then in 2021, I’ll be part of the alumni group that meets with the next class! But I get ahead of myself.
The 2017-2019 Class of Fellows is an assembly of faith leaders, educators, doctoral students, writers, and scientists of a variety of beliefs who are curious about the big questions of life. According to our biographies, two of us represent the United Church of Christ and three of us have connections to Boston University, where I received both my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees. As far as I know now, I’m the only LTS representative, but I may be surprised when we start introducing ourselves online. We have engineers, physicists, chaplains, church pastors, synagogue rabbis, Ph.D. candidates, professors, foundation leaders, and cognitive scientists. I’m excited to be a part of a class of fellows who will work with each other. We'll meet in person in New York City six times from November 2017 to May 2019. I suspect we will meet in many configurations in between via video services like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime. We will learn and grow both in our understanding of what science offers and what faith offers and in our ability to communicate what we know with the wider world. We will be producing videos, blogs, podcasts, seminars, and possibly even curricula (be still my heart!) for use by communities of faith around the country and the world.
I have no idea what the content of our media will be. We will determine that when we meet and discover where our interests coalesce in small and large groups. I’m personally interested in science communication and education, both by curious lay people for lay people (in this instance, non-scientists being “lay” people) and by professionals for lay people. But among my cohort, there are specialists in several fields of curiosity including genetics and physics as well as broader fields such as climate change and sociological measures of human flourishing. I’m excited by the possibilities for what I might learn and, more important, excited by what we might bring as a group to broaden and deepen the understanding of God’s world through faith and science, two of the best gifts God has given to us to use for good.
I also want to say a tremendous THANK YOU to Dr. Marty Kuchma, my first year seminar leader; Dr. Greg Carey, who opened my eyes to new ways of understanding Luke-Acts; Dr. Valerie Bridgeman, who made me a better preacher; and Dr. Anne Thayer, who prodded me when necessary to get the work done. I still hear the late Dr. Frank Stalfa’s voice questioning every detail of my project proposal. Lancaster Seminary President Dr. Carol Lytch started at LTS the same time I did and champions far and wide the tremendous work of the faculty as well as the talents and possibilities of the student body and alumni/ae, including mine, for which I am grateful beyond words.
Current OpportunitiesJob Categories: Seminary Opportunities Outside Opportunities View All
- Posted: Feb 21, 2018 Do you like working with kids who are inquisitive about God and precocious about the world? At Sojourners United Church of Christ, our kids are waiting for a leader to nurture them as they grow in faith as Christians. We invite you to be a part of our story.
- Posted: Feb 12, 2018 This summer position is open to seminary students and seasoned pastors who are seeking an intensive learning experience in intergenerational, youth and young adult ministries. It is meant to be vocationally informative to persons either commencing professional ministry or at a transition point as one looks toward future ministry contexts in college/university chaplaincy, new church planting, outdoor ministries and/or contemporary congregations seeking to develop an intergenerational approach to ministry. This seasonal position will be part of the newly formed Ghost Ranch Spiritual Life Services department, which includes Spiritual Companions, Spiritual Directors, and two Chaplains to whom she/he will report. She/he will provide a spiritual presence, pastoral leadership, and care, for families, youth, and young adults, during ten summer weeks at Ghost Ranch, and provide theological grounding and spiritual praxis for them and their leadership teams, while gaining on-the-ground experience in building Christian spiritual community within these demographics.
- Posted: Feb 12, 2018 Casa del Sol is a retreat house located two miles from the main campus at Ghost Ranch in a gated, restricted area of the high desert and is dedicated to deep spiritual contemplation. Through a rhythm of daily prayer, solitude, contemplative work, group study sessions and rest, Casa del Sol is a place of quiet, beauty and pervasive spirit. Created and founded in 2006 by a group of dedicated donors and friends, Casa has been the destination for hundreds of persons seeking respite, sabbatical, healing, and restoration before returning again to family, congregation, and service in the world beyond. The Host/Hostess at Casa del Sol is a volunteer position, and is responsible for the hospitality, logistics, and maintaining the ethos of the retreat house. The host/hostess resides in a comfortable, private Hermitage adjacent to the main retreat house and takes meals in the dining hall with other Ghost Ranch guests and staff on the Ranch campus.
- Posted: Jan 31, 2018 The St. Pauls - McConnelsburg and Trinity - Ft. Loudon congregations are seeking a pastor.
- Posted: Jan 31, 2018 St. Peter UCC in St. Peter's, PA is seeking a half-time (20-25 hours) Supply Pastor.
- Posted: Jan 31, 2018 St. Paul's UCC in Pottstown in seeking a half-time (20-25 hours) Interim Pastor.
- Posted: Jan 31, 2018 Lancaster Theological Seminary seeks a full-time Admissions Associate to work approximately 37.5 hours per week, with weekend and evening commitments and extensive travel required.
- Posted: Jan 31, 2018 Lancaster Theological Seminary seeks a part-time, exempt Admissions Associate to work 18.75 hours per week with weekend and evening commitments and extensive travel required.
- Posted: Jan 30, 2018 Franconia Mennonite Church, a congregation of 450 active members in southeastern PA, is looking for a Pastor of Outreach and Youth ministry to join our existing 3-person pastoral team. This full-time role combines leadership of the congregation’s youth ministry (both senior high and junior high) and leadership of the congregation’s various outreach ministries.
- Posted: Jan 30, 2018 Cleveland Park Congregational United Church of Christ (CPC) in Washington, DC seeks a Preaching Fellow for July 2018.
- Posted: Jan 11, 2018 Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church is seeking a Minster for Youth and Families.
- Posted: Jan 03, 2018 The members of First Congregational Church of Royal Oak are searching for a full-time Senior Minister who will join us on a journey to discover the meaning of the Gospel as it relates to our daily lives. This person may not have all the answers to life’s theological, philosophical and moral questions, but knows the important questions to ask. We seek an individual of high character and integrity, equipped to help lead in ministry, Christian education, community outreach, and pastoral care programs that embrace shared values of faith, freedom and fellowship.
- Posted: Jan 03, 2018 Fallston United Methodist Church in Harford County, Maryland is hiring a ministry professional part-time to engage members in the critical work of becoming disciples.
- Posted: Dec 07, 2017 The First Baptist Church of Lewisburg, PA is searching for a pastor.
- Posted: Dec 06, 2017 The Oxford Presbyterian Church in Oxford, PA, in Donegal Presbytery, is looking for a Transitional Pastor for a full-time position.
- Posted: Dec 06, 2017 Grove UMC, West Chester, PA is seeking a qualified part time (approx. 20 hrs/wk) Director of Christian Education to implement and maintain an educational ministry that aligns with the Grove vision by encouraging the spiritual formation and development of persons of all ages on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. The ministry shall focus on nurturing, educating, and discipling those who are part of the Grove family, and providing entry into the life of Grove Church for those who are not. The Director will spend time developing relationships with children and their families to continually evaluate the needs of the education ministry.
- Posted: Dec 01, 2017 Salem United Methodist Church is seeking a part-time Director of Children’s Ministries.
- Posted: Dec 01, 2017 Ours is a Welcoming Congregation celebrating the presence and participation of multiple diversities, including people of all sexual orientations, many different family structures, and gender expressions.
- Posted: Nov 28, 2017 The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is a Lancaster, PA based Christian Ministry. We are seeking a part-time member services representative.
- Posted: Nov 10, 2017 Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle, PA is seeking a temporary Associate Pastor for Children and Youth.
Chaplain, U.S. Army OtherPosted: Nov 09, 2017 The U.S. Army is seeking Chaplains to serve in several capacities.
- Posted: Nov 07, 2017 Brethren Village Retirement Community in Lititz is seeking a part-time Chaplain.
- Posted: Nov 03, 2017 Fort Miller Reformed Church is seeking a pastor.