On a whim, I decided to call all of the congregations from right here in West Virginia who were slated to participate in atheist Dr. Michael Zimmerman’s infamous Evolution Weekend to confirm whether they were in fact participating. I hadn’t heard anything [at all] from the seven churches and synogogues listed on the Clergy Letter Project’s website regarding their Evolution Weekend and Evolution Sunday events, and that made me the slightest bit suspicious. So a week ago, I pulled the list of WV churches off the Clergy Letter Project’s website and I contacted all of them, one by one.
And I found out that not one of them is actually participating in Evolution Weekend 2012.
Three of them [Spencer Presbyterian Church – Spencer, WV; St. Thomas à Becket Episcopal Church – Morgantown, WV; and (surprise, surprise), the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston, WV] will be doing something evolution-related the following weekend. The Unitarian Universalist Church (Charleston, WV) has been an Evolution Weekend participant since Evolution Sunday 2007. St. Thomas à Becket has been a participant since Evolution Weekend 2010. This is Spencer Presbyterian’s first year, ironically enough. Sadly enough, I got the impression that my phone call was something of a reminder for these three churches. During my initial calls to the UU congregation and St. Thomas à Becket, no one had any information on the specifics of their Evolution Weekend events or even knew for certain if they were participating this year, which is a noteworthy ignorance a week prior to an event! And Spencer Presbyterian’s pastor initially thought Evolution Weekend was the following weekend.
Two more congregations support Evolution Weekend, but won’t be participating [at least not this year]. Temple Israel (Charleston, WV) intended to participate for the first time this year, but has a schedule conflict; the Jewish calendar celebrates Tu Bishevat this weekend. Rabbi Jim Cohn, a very personable man, did state that he might make some remarks on ecology and climate change in relation to the holiday, but that an emphasis on evolution would have to wait until next year.
Rev. Russell McClatchey of Blairton United Methodist (Martinsburg, WV) said he supports Evolution Weekend but since he’s already done it [he’s supported it since Evolution Sunday 2007], he finds it redundant to do it again and again, so they won’t be doing anything specific this year.
And the final two, well…
When I contacted B’nai Jacob Synoagogue (Charleston, WV), I was told, “We were listed in error.” And I note that their name has been taken off the Clergy Letter Project’s list since I checked it a week ago.
When I contacted the pastor of Cross Lanes United Methodist Church, he was surprised to say the least. Rev. Gregory Hayes said his church had never participated in Evolution Weekend and that the contact person on the Clergy Letter Project website was merely a deacon. he noted that the have a Sanctity of Life Sunday coming up, but regarding evolution, “That’s an argument we’re simply not interested in.” I’ve contacted Dr. Zimmerman regarding the error on his website.
I cannot fail to mention that Cross Lanes United Methodist has been listed on the Clergy Letter Project’s website every year since Evolution Weekend 2009 as:
Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, WV
The Rev. J.F. Lacaria
Of course, the Rev. Dr. J. F. Lacaria probably isn’t your run-of-the-mill deacon, considering how active he is in the leadership of the regional Methodist scene. Nor do I doubt that Lacaria supports the Clergy Letter Project’s Evolution Weekend. And of course the pastor confirmed that he’s a member of the congregation.
Yet the fact remains that Cross Lanes United Methodist Church has never actually participated in Evolution Weekend and is, therefore, listed erroneously.
And that pretty much wraps up Evolution Weekend here in Wild, Wonderful West Virgina. Obviously, it’s not too late to celebrate a Creation Sunday instead. You can find ideas on how to celebrate a Creation Sunday or find a congregation near you at http://CreationSundays.com.