Historic Greyfriars Kirk is holding a festival as part of 400th anniversary celebrations

A world-famous Edinburgh church is to stage a Festival of Science, Wisdom and Faith as part of their celebrations marking 400 years as a congregation in the capital.

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Greyfriars Kirk – which is known around the globe for the touching story of Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal Skye terrier – will commemorate its ties to scientific figures with a series of talks and discussions by experts on the weekend of October 22 – 24

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The event is being supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and was inspired by the church’s connections to people such as James Hutton, known as the father of modern geology and a trailblazer in the field, who is buried in the graveyard.

The touching story of Greyfriars Bobby is know around the world.

The church first opened its doors on Christmas Day in 1620 and had planned a programme of events throughout last year to mark their special anniversary, but instead rescheduled the Festival of Science, Wisdom and Faith to this year.

Rev Richard Frazer, who is the minister at Greyfriars Kirk, said: “When scientific truths appear to challenge our settled ideas we shouldn’t bury our heads, but find the ways in which truth and faith come together.

Rev Richard Frazer, minister at Greyfriars

“Over these last 400 years the Greyfriars community has been committed to holding our developing understanding of the world alongside faith.

“James Hutton, buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, introduced the concept of ‘Deep Time’ which challenged settled understanding of the age of the earth.

“There has been a strong movement in the Church of Scotland not to denounce such insights, but instead see developments as opportunities to be enriched by scientific endeavour.

“There are those who say that science supersedes religion, rendering faith redundant. But reverence for the natural world, restraint of destructive appetites and finding answers to sustaining the earth community are spiritual and moral challenges too.

Historic Greyfriars Kirk is celebrating its 400th anniversary.

“Indeed, many scientists say that the challenge of the current Climate Emergency cannot be answered by science alone but must be an effort of collective moral will.

“This Festival, on the eve of COP26 in Glasgow, is a contribution to what we see as the urgent need to find the wisdom for survival in a fragile world under threat.”

The programme will feature experts speaking on universal themes including geologist Professor Stuart Monro FRSE, who was instrumental in establishing Dynamic Earth and Witches of Scotland, a group who are seeking an official pardon and a national monument for more than 2,500 people convicted under Witchcraft Acts in Scotland.

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, President (interim) of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, said: "This year's Festival offers online and in-person experiences that will connect audiences with experts and practitioners in different fields working together to explore perceptions.

“We all have a part to play in finding a sustainable future for the world to flourish and I urge everyone to get involved."

On the Sunday, there will be a special service at Greyfriars themed around the Bible quote ‘We cannot do anything against the truth’ (2 Corinthians 3:8).

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