"America's evolutionary evangelists" are coming to Elizabethton.
First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton and Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church of Gray are teaming up to host the Rev. Michael Dowd and his wife, science writer Connie Barlow, Sept. 7-9.
Dowd is the author of "Thank God for Evolution."
Shuck says he has read Dowd's book, which is also being used as a tool for the Thursday morning study group at First Presbyterian.
Shuck says he was "always intrigued" by the fact that Dowd was a minister and that he actually wrote and spoke against evolution...He kind of had a change of heart, and now he is a traveling evolutionary evangelist."
Shuck continued, "He talks about the evolutionary story. He makes it particular to people so that they can see it's not a polarizing thing. It doesn't have to be 'either or.' It doesn't have to be a person of faith or a person of evolution...that there is a way to understand it that is complementary, rather than oppositional."
Shuck says he thinks "the creation story in Genesis was a story created by people before we understood what we know about science, but they talked about one of the refrains that we hear in Genesis, 'and the Lord said that it was good.' I think in a sense that is the enduring message of the story. The people who told that story told it in their time and their understanding of how the universe worked. That is a way in which we can understand our story today. It is good. And God works through the evolutionary process and creates through that. The scientific process of evolution we can understand as the way that God creates the world. It doesn't have to be seen as atheistic or meaningless or any of those kinds of things. It could be seen as part of the way God works."
Dowd, Shuck says, hails from a Pentecostal heritage, "and he appreciates all of that tradition and uses it in terms of understanding. He has a real spirit energy. He says he speaks in tongues. Yet he also accepts what science is teaching us."
The programs will include four workshops and two worship services between the two congregations. On Sunday, Dowd will lead the adult forum at First Presbyterian at 9:45 a.m. Barlow will lead the worship service at Holston Valley UUC at 10:30 a.m. Dowd will lead the worship service at First Presbyterian at 11 a.m. At 3 p.m., a multi-general seminar will be led by Barlow at Holston Valley UCC. A potluck lunch will be shared.
On Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m., Dowd will lead a workshop at First Presbyterian.
First Presbyterian is located at 119 W. F St., Elizabethton. Holston Valley UUC is located at 136 Bob Jobe Road, Gray.