Russell Announces Major Gift to CTNS

Long-time First Church member Dr. Robert Russell, Founder and Director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), has announced a $2 million pledge from renowned scientist Francisco J. Ayala (pictured) which will complete a $4 million endowment for the Center. It will be named “The Francisco J. Ayala Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences” in Dr. Ayala’s honor.

With this gift from Dr. Ayala, the Ian G. Barbour Chair in Theology and Science will be fully funded and an institutional endowment to support the CTNS Journal Theology and Science, and its staff and programs will be created. And CTNS, now bearing Professor Ayala's internationally recognized name, will gain a greater degree of credibility among scientists and the wider secular world.

The completion of the endowment for CTNS has been an ongoing goal of over a decade of work by all involved. Dr. Russell notes, “I am particularly grateful to my friends at FCCB for your support and encouragement. Together with the wider CTNS community locally and internationally we have succeeded in creating a permanent academic and public voice for the respectful dialogue and mutual interaction between theology in a Christian ecumenical and interfaith context and the natural sciences.” As a progressive Christian church, First Church believes that both science and religion have great gifts to bring to the search for truth.

The First Church community is invited to a special naming event for “The Francisco J. Ayala Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences” on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 4 pm, in the Dinner Board Room at the GTU Library. Dr. Ayala and his spouse Hana will be present to celebrate this extraordinary gift and to help us launch this wonderful new chapter in the life of CTNS.

The event is free and open to the public. For planning purposes, RSVPs would be appreciated. Please send a quick note to Melissa Moritz,, to let us know you will attend.