Organizational History
Website explores nexus of science and religion
BY LINDA WORTHINGTON
UMCONNECTION STAFF
Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference
UM Connection Volume 22 • Issue 10
October 19, 2011 page 7
(The article can by found at on page 7 at  
http://www.bwcumc.org/sites/default/files/umc_pdf_files/UMC_Oct19_WEB.pdf.)
WesleyNexus, an online publication whose mission is to provide resources to support an
informed dialogue between science and religion, recently received notification that it has
been approved as an exempt, charitable nonprofit organization.  The Internal Revenue
Service granted the status to the corporation operating under the laws of the State of
Maryland in August, retroactive to October 2009, when WesleyNexus was first organized.
The WesleyNexus website is designed to provide resources to those that share the
heritage of John Wesley as part of their faith tradition and are interested in science,
explained the Rev. Maynard Moore, a retired Elder and one of the founders. “The goal is
to build an understanding of how science, religion and theology can better inform one
another among people in a growing online community,” he said.

A strength of the online resource material is being able to present verbatim sections from
the United Methodist Book of Discipline that support informed dialogue, well-reasoned
discourse and faith that is solidly founded on both Scripture and the best in scientific
thinking, Moore said.  “Many in our United Methodist churches are likely unaware of the
language in the Discipline that provides such a foundation.”  

When it began, WesleyNexus had a Board of Directors with five people, presided over by
cofounder, the Rev. Walt Shropshire Jr., a retired Elder with a doctorate in biophysics. In
October, Shropshire takes on a President Emeritus role and will work at solidifying the
formation of a WesleyNexus Advisory Board from like-minded people from across the
country.

In October Moore will become the board president. He and others are in the process of
expanding it from the original five to at least eight individuals. “We are pleased the
organization’s leadership is now expanding,” he said. Recent additions include Kent H.
Weaver, a layperson, the Rev. Jong-Woo Park, senior pastor at Fairhaven UMC, and
Rev. Jennifer Secki Shields, on the staff at Christ Crossman UMC in Falls Church, Va.
“All bring strong credentials to the team,” he said.

The Board spent the first nine months of 2009 constructing the original website and
defining the parameters for the material it makes available online. “Our concern is to
provide material for a well-informed discussion, not to advocate for any particular
position,” Moore said. The Board members have provided start-up funding themselves.

“We’ve been pleased to see the continued growth in numbers of those registering on the
WesleyNexus website,” Shropshire said. “Right after the Baltimore-Washington
Conference affirmed its support … we saw a spike in hits on the website, and that
continues to grow each month.” He hopes with the new IRS status, “to see our financial
resources grow as well.”

WesleyNexus secretary Rick Barr, a lay member to annual conference, agrees that
potential impact continues to grow as more small discussion groups are forming in local
congregations. Through its online activities, WesleyNexus endeavors to broaden a
growing dialogue among thoughtful persons of faith who take science seriously.  Moore
and Dick Rhorer, a lay person from Grace UMC in Gaithersburg, represented
WesleyNexus in a presentation at the Wesleyan Theological Society annual meeting at
SMU in Dallas last February. “Now that we can attract a little more funding,” said
Moore, “we hope to expand the discussion resources available on the Web. Our plans are
to enhance the website significantly, making it much more interactive, as we find that
more and more people discover it as a valuable tool for discussion.”

To learn more, visit www.wesnex.org or e-mail wesleynexus@aol.org.