Maynard Moore, Ph.D., President
Maynard has been involved in the science and religion dialogue for ~20 years, through the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, & Religion program coordinated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and also in an on-going dialogue group in the Washington Theological Union. During 2001-2002 he coordinated a series of sixteen formal sessions at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington DC that involved prominent scientists, including seven Nobel Laureates, among them Dr. Charles Townes, Dr. Julius Axelrod, and Dr. William Phillips. Currently Maynard serves on the Board of Directors for the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington DC, one of the nation’s oldest such organizations, now embracing eleven different faith traditions in the Nation’s Capital. In addition, Maynard maintains active memberships in the Center for Process Theology at Claremont Graduate Seminary in California, the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy at Wesley Seminary, and the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. He teaches a regular Sunday morning class in Science & Religion at Metropolitan Memorial UMC in Washington. He has completed work for two graduate degrees from Southern Methodist University, an M. A. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the Ph.D. in Higher Education / Adult Education at the Union Graduate Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Maynard served on the host committee staff for the “Science and the Spiritual Quest II” Conference held at Harvard in October 2001, sponsored by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at Berkeley. He has also been a participant in several “science and religion” symposia through past involvement with the John Templeton Foundation and the Metanexus Institute in Philadelphia. Through the International Consortium on Religion and Ecology, Maynard participated in the preparation work group for the “Future Visions” consultation in New York City in 2000, co-sponsored by the State of the World Forum and the New York Interfaith Center. He supported Bawa Jain, Secretary General of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, and assisted Dr. Douglas Johnston, Director of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, in planning the Summit Agenda.
Richard M. Ballew, Ph.D.
Richard (Ricky) Ballew graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Ph.D. in chemistry (physical). He has worked in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries at companies including CuraGen, Celera Genomics, Covance, MedImmune, and AstraZeneca, where he has held positions in technology development, laboratory automation, and information technology, as an individual contributor and in management. He is a Certified Lay Servant in the Central Maryland District of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and currently serves the congregation of Memorial UMC in Poolesville, Maryland as its lay leader. His wife Helen is a seminary student and a certified candidate for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church.
Rick Barr is the founder and coordinator of the Montgomery County Science and Religion Discussion Group, which he started in November 2000. The group has met continually since that time. Rick has participated in a Metanexus Local Societies Grant with the Washington Theological Consortium and has given talks on science and religion throughout Montgomery County, Maryland. Rick has a BA in history from West Virginia Wesleyan College, a Masters of Science in Technology of Management from American University and an MA in Systematic Theology from at Wesley Theological Seminary. Rick spent twenty years with Fannie Mae as a risk manager, auditor, and internal consultant prior to his retirement in 2007. Rick is a founding member of WesleyNexus.
Jennifer Secki Shields
Jennifer Secki Shields studied biology as an undergraduate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio . As a doctoral student at the University of Virginia she studied evolutionary biology, conducted field research on salamanders, and served as an Award-winning graduate teaching assistant and a graduate teaching consultant. In several years of teaching and doing science outreach programs, she often found herself answering “God questions” from folks who wanted to know how she could be a Christian and an evolutionist. So, in 2000, she answered a call to professional Christian ministry. From 2000-2016, she served in church ministry as a Director of Christian Education (United Methodist Church), regularly teaching about the relationship between science and faith for learners of all ages. From 2004-2016 she chaired the annual Blackstone Seminar for Science, Theology, Ethics & Ministry, an endowed program in the Virginia conference of the United Methodist Church. In September 2016, Jennifer founded Discovery & Faith, a ministry dedicated to helping the next generation experience the harmony between science and biblical faith. Jennifer resides in Falls Church, Virginia, with her husband and three sons.
Rev. Dr. Eliezer Valentín-Castañón
Rev. Dr. Eliezer Valentín-Castañón has been an Elder in the United Methodist Church since 1993, has served churches in Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. In 1994 he was appointed to the General Board of Church and Society in Washington, DC, where he worked on public policy issues. In 2005 he was appointed to the General Commission on Religion and Race, where he worked with local churches, annual conferences, and jurisdictions on developing a greater appreciation for the Church’s diversity. Since 2010 Pastor Eliezer served the Monrovia Charge in the Central Maryland District and in 2013 was appointed Senior Pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, in Frederick, Maryland.
A native of Puerto Rico, where he spent his formative years, Pastor Eliezer graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a BA in Psychology. In 1990, he earned his Master of Divinity from Drew Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2002. His doctoral studies focused on Wesleyan Theology and History. In 2013 he graduated from St. Mary’s Seminary and University – The Ecumenical Institute of Theology, with a Certificate of Advance Studies in Theology focusing on Systematic Theology. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in theology with focus on Spirituality, Wesleyan studies and his cultural heritage through the Graduate Theological Foundation.
While living in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Kent Weaver is a member of Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington, DC, where he assists Maynard Moore with a Science and Religion class. He is active in the Montgomery County Science and Religion Discussion Group that meets at Grace UMC in Gaithersburg, MD. At various times he has been involved in a wide range of local church lay-leadership positions. Currently he manages the provision of evening meals for Metropolitan House, the men’s homeless shelter housed at Metropolitan Memorial UMC, while also providing overall coordination for a number of other feeding programs at MMUMC. He manages a service project website for the Metropolitan Memorial Cooperative Parish which includes Metropolitan Memorial UMC, St. Luke’s UMC, and Wesley UMC within Washington, DC. He also serves on the board of directors for Metropolitan House and the St. Luke’s Mission Center. Prior to retirement in 2009, Kent spent 40 years with the Montgomery County Public Schools where he served as a high school math teacher, special education teacher, middle and high school counselor, high school counseling department chair, high school counseling specialist within the MCPS central office, and finally as supervisor of school counseling services for MCPS.