If you want to boost attendance at your local religious congregation, just ask a Nobel Prize-winning physicist to deliver the weekly sermon. This actually works!
Folks at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church (Adelphi, Md.) were honored to have Dr. John C. Mather of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the pulpit yesterday. Dr. Mather had been at the church a few months ago to attend the memorial service of Frank McDonald, a retired NASA GSFC high-energy astrophysicist, and once he got talking to the minister, she invited him back for a Sunday service.
You can read both his talks during the service — first some comments to the children at the beginning of the service, and then his sermon for the adults. The sanctuary was full!
After the service, Dr. Mather stuck around for a discussion circle in one of the church’s classrooms. About 35 folks got a chance to ask him questions about space-time, the origins of life, the spirituality of scientists, and the James Webb Space Telescope. I didn’t take notes, but I enjoyed the session thoroughly. How often do folks get to sit around and chat with a Nobel laureate?