NZCIS was founded in 2017 with a Grant from the Templeton World Charity to start a Christians in Science in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Before NZCIS there had been precursors. Dr Nicola Hoggard Creegan had run a group, TANSA (Theology and the Natural Sciences in Aotearoa) at Laidlaw College for 7 years with an initial grant from Metanexus. Earlier still Dr L.R.B. Mann, Prof Neil Broom, and Dr Graeme Finlay ran an informal group of scientists meetings to discuss issues of faith. Two towering figures had influenced a previous generation: Professor John Morton, professor of Zoology at the University of Auckland and Dr Harold Turner of the DeepSight Trust.
The founding of NZCIS
NZCIS was founded in 2017 when Dr Jake Martin, then a postgrad chemistry student applied to Templeton for a Grant to start a CIS in New Zealand. He collaborated with Dr Graeme Finlay, and Dr Zachary Ardern then a postgrad biology student.
NZCIS was led by Nicola Hoggard and Graeme Finlay as co-Directors (Zach and Jake had gone overseas to do postdocs). Rev. Dr. Carolyn Kelly invited Nicola to base NZCIS at Maclaurin Chapel at the University of Auckland. There were launch events at other University Centres but many of the activities in the first few years were located at the Chapel. In those years we ran a discussion group and the tradition of holding Winter Lectures in August began. Our first conference was on the Wonders of the World held in August 2017, and the second was on Evolution and Ecology at Otago in 2019. Nicola taught an Otago Summer School Course on Christian Theology and Science in 2018, 2020, and 2022.
A second Templeton Matching Funds Grant followed, and we increased our direct funding with Wilberforce and Maclaurin Goodfellow Trust as sponsors. We held Winter events in Wellington and Christchurch. During Covid NZCIS began cooperating with ISCAST on Zoom Conversation Series. These have continued in the post-covid era.
2023 and beyond
In 2023 we are transitioning to an era of more varied funding. Rev. Greg Holmes has begun work in the Nelson Diocese with schools and churches. Emma Belcher is assisting with a new Mentoring Initiative where young theologians and scientists read through some of the science/theology literature over the course of a year, with bimonthly Zoom meetings to discuss the works and meet practitioners in the field. We are also now entering an era where this important work depends mainly on membership and gifts to continue running. If you think the integration of science and faith is important to future generations and the well-being and flourishing of the Church please consider donating. NZCIS is also a National organisation but we can’t be everywhere. If you would like to start a discussion group in your area please let us know. We can help support and advertise it.