Category Archives: Events

The Rise and Fall of the Christian Myth then ….. A change for the better: Theology in the modern and contemporary periods

We have had a good response so far but there is room for more people.

Professor Joe Bessler is coming to New Farm Uniting Church
Saturday 7th July

Times: 9 am to 1 pm – registration from 8:30 am

Cost: $35 including Devonshire Morning Tea. Pay at the door, but please register your intention to attend by emailing Desley to assist with numbers for catering. – or let Paul know you are coming: 0414 672 222 or
Fulltime theology students: $20

“The Rise and Fall of the Christian Myth then ….. A change for the better: Theology in the modern and contemporary periods.”

Time to listen….. time to question….. Time to discuss.

Joe Bessler is Professor of Theology in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has worked closely with the Westar Institute and is the author of A Scandalous Jesus: How Three Historical Quests Changed Theology for the Better.

Brought to Brisbane by:
Common Dreams on the Road and Progressive Christianity Network, Qld
The Uniting Church at New Farm is at Bus Stop 13 on Bus Route #196
Off street and on street parking – no meters or time limits.


Gender and Sexual Diversity – terminology

Congratulations to SoFiA (Brisbane) – Sea of Faith in Australia on today’s well planned and high interest conference on Gender Diversity. The impact of the presentations and discussions is sure to be far reaching and long lasting. Presentation by a trans woman priest, pyschologist, trans man lawyer, young ‘agender, trans, queer, femme and fabulous’ person, a mother and many ‘stories’ from the audience made this a very rich conversation.

I was almost overwhelmed by the extent of the nomenclature associated with topic. So I have reproduced them here for everyone’s benefit. If we are serious about inclusion and supportive of diversity, it demands an understanding of the language as a primary criterion.

Bisexual: The word “bi”, meaning “two”, speaks of a person’s attraction to two genders. Bisexuality is unrelated to a person’s own gender or promiscuity, it simply means they feel attraction to men and women.

Transgender: The word “trans” is Latin for “cross”. Transgender people are people whose gender identities are different to the gender they were assigned at birth. In our medical system, most babies born are categorised as male or female based on their physical characteristics (genitals, hormones, etc.).

For many people, however, the gender they were assigned is not the identity that actually exists within them – though they are not “broken”, “mismatched” or strange.

The term “transition” can describe a process that transgender people undergo in order to live their lives more fully as themselves. Transition does not necessarily have an end point, and there are many reasons why transgender people choose to include hormones or surgical procedures in the process, or not choose those things.

Importantly, trans people have no obligation to explain why they’ve made the decisions they have. Questions about their bodies are among the countless acts of aggression and violence faced by trans Australians every day.

Queer: The word queer is still a contentious word, originating as a threatening label for gender and sexuality diverse people. Its origins squirm all the way back through English and Scottish, always meaning something “not straight”. By the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic brought the issue of homophobia irrevocably to the fore.

One of the first groups to flip the meaning of queer and reclaim it were four gay men from ACT-UP (an organisation for gay men’s health), who named themselves Queer Nation.

Since then, the word has somersaulted through radical communities and academia alike. Now queer is not just an umbrella term for sexuality and gender diverse people – it is a proclamation of fearless difference, a self-identifying commitment to counter culture.

Intersex: Intersex people have genital, chromosomal or other physical characteristics that don’t fall into what is typically labelled as male or female.

To be intersex has long been the butt of the great gender joke, stigmatised and all grouped under the term “hermaphrodites” or sidelined and assigned a single gender. There are many variations within humans’ biological makeup that are intersex – more than most people realise.

As intersex refers to biology, it does not describe a person’s sexual or gender orientation. As Safe Schools Coalition explains, “intersex is often associated with a medical diagnosis of disorders, or differences of sex development (DSD). Some intersex individuals may prefer to be described as a ‘person with an intersex variation’ or be identified by their specific variation.”

Source: ABC (online) News –

LGBTQIA glossary: Common gender and sexuality terms explained



Professor Joe Bessler is coming to New Farm


                                    Saturday 7th July

A morning with Joe Bessler

Times: 9 am to 1 pm – registration from 8:30 am Cost:  $35 including Devonshire Morning Tea. Pay at the door, but please register your intention to attend by emailing Desley to assist with numbers for catering.

Fulltime theology students: $20

Time to listen  …..  time to question  …..  Time to discuss

Joe Bessler is the Professor of Theology in Tulsa,  Oklahoma. He has worked closely with the Westar Institute  and is the author of A Scandalous Jesus:  How Three Historical Quests Changed Theology for the Better.

Brought to Brisbane by Common Dreams on the Road and Progressive Christianity Network, Qld

The Rise and Fall of the Christian Myth then …..  A change for the better: Theology in the modern and contemporary periods

The Uniting Church at New Farm is at Bus Stop 13 on Bus Route #196

Off street and on street parking – no meters or time limits.

Enquiries: 0409 498 493


Professor Joe Bessler in SEQ – 5th,6th,7th,8th July

Common Dreams On the Road and  Progressive Christian Network Queensland present:

Professor Joseph A. Bessler

and extend an invitation to attend one or more of the following:

Theology in the Age of Trump Thursday July 5, 6pm. St John’s Cathedral 373 Ann Street, Brisbane A conversation with Joe Bessler over wine and cheese as we explore the intersection of the religious and the political amid the current climate of debate over freedoms and authority. Entry by donation.
Reimagining Prayer and Practice Friday July 6, 6:30pm. Eastern Hills Anglican Church 101 Watson Street, Camp Hill An evening of wine, cheese and conversation with Professor Joe Bessler as we reimagine liturgy as practice for public life. Entry $10. Enquiries: Fr Chris Tyack / 0404 518 011

Rise and Fall of The Christian Myth and A Change for the BetterTheology in the Modern and Contemporary Periods Saturday July 7, 9am – 1pm Uniting Church Centre 52 Merthyr Road, New Farm Registration from 8:30am. $35 entry includes morning tea.  Discount available for fulltime theology students. Please register for catering purposes via Desley Garnett / 0409 498 403

Theology in the Age of Trump Sunday July 8, 3pm. St Mark’s Buderim 7-17 Main Street, Buderim A conversation with Joe Bessler as we explore the intersection of the religious and the political amid the current climate of debate over freedoms and authority.  $10 Entry includes afternoon tea. Enquiries: Rev’d Deb Bird / 0404 816 202

Joseph A. Bessler is Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In addition to teaching theology courses, Joe Bessler specialises in the interaction of religion and

contemporary culture. He is the author of ‘A Scandalous Jesus’ and enjoys the challenge of opening up cross-disciplinary conversations that define theological questions in new ways.

You can read more about Joe here:

Find us on Facebook @pcnqld and @cd5sydney Look out for the Common Dreams 2019 Conference in Sydney:

Paul Inglis 14th June 2018



SoFiA – One-Day Conference in Brisbane

One-day conference Gender Diversity: What, Who, How?

(in conjunction with the SoFiA AGM, see below) Sunday 17 June, 10.30am – 3.00pm Lecture Theatre, Watermall Level, Queensland Art Gallery South Bank, Brisbane –  Cost:  $20

What is gender and how does it differ from sex? Is gender diversity social engineering, or a fact of life? How can we respond when transgender people assert their personal and civil rights? How does this change human identity? How can we develop flourishing lives and relationships for us all?

Hear  – researchers in this field,  transgender people,  family and friends of transgender people

Understand – terms and concepts in gender diversity

Feel –  the experiences of gender-non-conforming    people.

More details in the March/April Bulletin or as below

To register:
Numbers are limited, so to ensure a seat register and pay online  ( Payment is also accepted at the event. Lunch will be available for purchase at the GOMA Café Bistro, State Library Café or QAG Café.

What is SoFiA?

The SoF movement started in 1984 as a response to Don Cupitt‘s book and television series, both titled Sea of Faith. Cupitt was educated in both science and theology at the University of Cambridge in the 1950s, and is a philosopher, theologian, Anglican priest, and former Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  In the book and TV series, he surveyed western thinking about religion and charted a transition from traditional realist religion to the view that religion is simply a human creation.

The name Sea of Faith is taken from Matthew Arnold‘s nostalgic mid 19th century poem “Dover Beach“, in which the poet expresses regret that belief in a supernatural world is slowly slipping away; the “sea of faith” is withdrawing like the ebbing tide.

Following the television series, a small group of radical Christian clergy and laity began meeting to explore how they might promote this new understanding of religious faith. Starting with a mailing list of 143 sympathisers, they organised the first UK conference in 1988.[5] A second conference was held in the following year shortly after which the SoF Network was officially launched. Annual regional and national conferences have been key events of the network ever since.


NZ Common Ground Conference

If you can make it to New Zealand in September, be assured of a great conference.

Creation: Ecology, Theology, Revolution

Aotearoa New Zealands’ 3rd 


Wellington – Friday 7– Sunday 9 September 2018 for all the details.

Guest Speakers

Prof Martin Manning One Earth, One Future, One People

Dr Emily Colgan  A Place to Call Home? Reading the Bible from the Perspective of Earth

Hon Grant Robertson MP  People, environment, economy— the triple bottom line


Creating down to earth prayers— Bronwyn White

Earthed! Progressive Funerals— Rev Dr Jim Cunningham

Full immersion: Jungian slow release from the Christian ties that bind— Sande Ramage

Labyrinth, guided local walks

Lively panel discussion: How we “do” Progressive Christianity

Progressive Christianity Aotearoa is an informal network of churches, individuals and faith communities.

We are linked with Common Dreams (based in Australia) and (based in the US).


David Williams Play – Quiet Faith

Coming to the Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre at New Farm:

Quiet Faith

From award-winning documentary theatre maker, David Williams comes a surprising journey into the world of the quietly, progressively faithful.


Go to: to see a trailer of this impacting work and read more about the play, reviews and how to get to the venue.

The place of Christian faith in Australian politics is often linked to conservatism and intolerance. Many members of the current Federal Government profess deep Christian beliefs and groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby loudly intervene in public policy debates.

Yet, new faith-based social movements actively campaign against government policies. The spectacle of religious leaders undertaking non-violent acts of civil disobedience, including prayer vigils in the offices of Christian politicians, has captured the imaginations of many.

Generated from hours of interviews with Christian Australians, Quiet Faith offers a beautiful, immersive and heartfelt portrait of the very different ways that faith can underpin civic life.

Dates: FRI 11 + SAT 12 MAY, 2018

Venue: Visy Theatre

Tickets: Full $49*

Times; Fri 7pm, Sat 4.30pm + 7pm

Length: (70 mins )

Presented by Brisbane Powerhouse in association with Alternative Facts.

Caloundra Explorers – Revisioning a Church for the 21st Century

Caloundra Explorers GroupCaloundra Uniting Church

56c Queen St Caloundra

Gathering Sunday 15th April 2018 – 5.30pm

Revisioning a Church for the 21st Century
with Special Guest Dr. Paul Inglis.

[A progress report on the Revisioning Project]

with bring and share finger food meal at 6.40pm.

Caloundra Explorers have been developing over many years a contemporary gathering format that includes a conversation with critical thinking about a relevant topic of concern. This is embedded in a context of reflection, song and food. There are many innovative elements in the gathering which breaks with traditional worship, captures much of the mood of the original Jesus followers and draws on contemporary elements of meditation, community peace and solidarity,

Dr Paul Inglis is CEO of the UCFORUM and chair of the Progressive Christian Network Queensland. He was for 11 years the Community Minister at Dayboro Uniting Church where he and Robyn remain and assist with its development. Dayboro UC also has a thriving Explorers Group. Previously Paul was a Teacher, Principal and Lecturer in Education at QUT. The Revisioning Project is a healthy discussion about change and adaptation that is needed in the Christian Church to make it relevant to people in the 21st century.  There was an enormous response to Paul’s questions:  What practical initiatives will help the Church become a significant part of society, give integrity to its work and attract new members as followers of Jesus? What do progressive Christians want the church to be like? and this is being analysed to move the discussion on to a practical stage.

Ideas have been offered from former moderators, clergy, lay people, theologians, writers and people who have left the church but have an abiding interest in the role of the church in our life journeys.

At this gathering there will be further opportunities for feeding ideas into the project.

Everyone welcome. Further enquiries to Paul


The hidden influence of progressive theology.

The following post from Len Baglow is reproduced here with his approval. It was first posted in the APCV blog – A Progressive Christian Voice Australia

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Henderson Conference 2018 at the University of Melbourne. Professor Ronald Henderson, led a national inquiry into poverty from 1968-1975. From this inquiry came many wide-ranging reforms including increases to the aged pension. It also saw the creation of the Henderson poverty line, which continues to be updated by the Melbourne Institute, and is used by policy advocates like myself to this day.

The conference brought together outstanding speakers from around Australia all of whom were committed to reducing poverty in Australia. This resulted in truly fascinating discussions and it was great to be among so many committed people.

However, one of the highlights for me was at the conference dinner, when Ronald Henderson’s son William spoke of his memories of his father. In particular he remembered a framed quote from the protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr which was on his father’s desk. The quote ran, “Remember, if a thing is worth doing, it will take more than one generation: hence the extreme importance of hope.”

I am not sure how traditionally religious Ronald Henderson was or whether he was a church goer at all. However, it is apparent from his son’s recollections that there was something in the progressive theology of his day that helped guide and galvanise his actions.

As it happens, I had been thinking a little about Niebuhr of late because it was he who championed the Jewish philosopher Abraham Heschel in the USA during the 1950s. For the last 4 months I have been engrossing myself in Heschel’s work, which, though written over half a century ago, prefigures and resonates with much postmodern theology.

Towards the end of his life, Heschel became involved with Martin Luther King in both the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations. He was involved with the Selma march and his daughter, Susannah Heschel records, “The greatness of that Selma march continues to reverberate because it was not simply a political event, but an extraordinary moral and religious event as well. For my father, the march was a deeply spiritual occasion. When he came home, he said, ‘I felt my legs were praying.’”

Progressive theology needs legs. If it does not lead to loving committed action it is useless, a waste of time. It also needs to be grounded in that loving committed action and not something produced in the ivory towers of universities alone.

One of the things that Henderson did when he first began his research into poverty was that he sent his young university researchers out into the community to talk with every community group who would listen. They talked about their findings and discussed their implications. In this dialogue, their ideas were tested and they developed a strong sense on how to communicate. I am not sure whether he got this idea from Niebuhr or not, but it is certainly a model which is strongly biblical.

Today, too often theologians and the church have forgotten this and talk just to themselves and those like them. (Perhaps this is why Bishops often appear to be talking gobbledegook; they have forgotten the common language.)

Palm Sunday is coming up. This is a time Christians have traditionally prayed with their feet. In Australia while church attendances have been dropping, those in the secular society committed to justice have taken this festival up. It is now a rally for those who want justice for refugees and for people seeking asylum. What a sign of grace! Though we in the churches have forgotten the covenant, God has not forgotten!

Palm Sunday is our opportunity to do theology on the street and with our legs and with our ears. On Palm Sunday you will hear a God who confronts, who calls for justice, who challenges and for those who have committed themselves to justice, who also consoles.

My first challenge then to progressive Christians reading this article: Get out on the street this Palm Sunday. My second challenge is for you to ask your local Minister, Pastor or Bishop to be there as well.

Len Baglow  March 2018

Management Committee of APCVA (A Progressive Christian Voice Australia)


Our Impact on the Earth

Hosted by West End Explorers

Sunday 11th March 5.30pm

Uniting Church West End · Brisbane

For our next Contemplative Service, we will be reflecting on our impact on the Earth …

Join Mark Delaney, a Brisbane local who’s spent much of the last 20 years in the slums of India, as he helps us reflect on our impact on the earth. In response, Mark invites us to change the only thing we can – ourselves.

All welcome.