Category Archives: Events

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.


Caloundra Seminar: The idea of God is perfectly logical.

“The Idea of God is perfectly logical”

‘Elite culture sneers at belief, but it is no less believable than atheism.
‘ Weekend Australian’ : Article leader by Senior Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan – 28th/29th October 2017

All are welcome at the Caloundra Explorers’ examination of this idea on

SUNDAY 18th FEBRUARY at 5.30pm.

Venue: Caloundra Uniting Church

Enquiries or for more on the Sheridan article email John Everall.

“Philosophy, religion and theology are not topics usually aired in a major Australian newspaper. Thus Sheridan’s article, ‘Idea of God is perfectly logical’, is a rare exception to a general trend”.

“I take Sheridan’s challenge as a plea for serious intellectual thought, reflection, and cultural engagement. This requires enlightened leadership. It is pointless for clergy to hide behind their monologues. The one man band has had its day. Church members need to be treated as responsible adults who are able to set a collective church agenda and manage their own learning. It is a question of their ‘empowerment’ and taking responsibility for the christian agenda. I believe congregations sidestep this challenge at their peril!”

“Anyone raising awkward philosophical and religious questions is said to be overstepping the mark of what is acceptable. The demarcation line between the secular and the ‘non-material’ sphere is a fundamentally given! In contrast Sheridan believes philosophical and religious discourses have a valid place in the public domain and can elucidate the intellectual and cultural ‘concerns’ raised there.”

“Sheridan reminds his readers that there is more to living than the pursuit of pleasure. After all having a good time never lasts for long”. [Seminar leader]

For one critique of Sheridan’s argument go to: Online Opinion

The Explorers Group is set up to enable people to experience some of the challenge and intellectual stimulation available from the growing breadth of contemporary theology and emerging biblical scholarship. We get together to explore, discuss and debate within a safe, non-judgmental and structured environment, recently published writings and lectures from contemporary theologians, eminent scholars and others.


Encountering God in the Galilee

Liz Little recently presented a homily to the congregation at St Mary’s in Exile in Brisbane. It was based on her experience in the Holy Land. She gives some insight into the challenges for progressives visiting the popular biblical places.

Encountering God in the Galilee 

Liz Little 20/21 January 2018 – St Mary’s in Exile – South Brisbane

The Walk
Last April I was lucky enough to join three friends to spend a couple of weeks walking in northern Israel – in the Galilee area.

Israel is a country I am drawn back to for some reason. I’ve been there on study tours before. This was the first walking visit. We did it the easy way, staying in guesthouses at the holy sites and carrying just day packs. We had our main luggage transported for us.

We walked first across country from Nazareth to Capernaum and then we walked around the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a lake, of course.

There were markers to show the way and we had a guide book and a compass and various maps. In spite of that, we didn’t always manage to stay on the cross country part of the track. It was wildflower season and sometimes the flowers were so prolific that they covered the track markers. At other times, the track was just poorly marked.

It didn’t matter that we were not always on track. We could often see our destination from the top of a ridge, even if it was 15 kilometres away.

I think we might have sometimes trespassed on private property when the track wasn’t obvious to us. But, there didn’t seem to be anyone around to care. We saw only two other walkers during the whole two weeks.

The walk was not hard, but some days were long and some days were hot. Some days were long and hot. All days were beautiful.

Descending Mt Arbell was a bit hairy because it was quite exposed. But, the challenges are all part of the experience.

There is something about walking that nourishes the human spirit. It’s the rhythm of the movement and the challenges of the terrain and being out there in the landscape that seems to lift the spirit and engage the soul. The long walk provides time and space for one’s own inner thoughts. It brings to mind Narelle’s homily about human beings not human doings. A long walk allows for the experience of the now; an experience of wholeness and unity, of joy and peace; an experience of God.

Peter has pointed out from time to time that the word God has been tainted for many. In an attempt to understand the concept, religious teaching personified God, into a male of course. God was also presented as a judge, someone who would reward and punish and also as a puppeteer, someone who controls the world and what happens in it. God as the person, as the judge, as the puppeteer all imply that God is a separate entity; apart from human beings and apart from the world. None of those concepts seems to serve us adequately any more.

Lloyd Geering, a NZ Presbyterian minister and a scholar, explores the concept of God in his book Reimagining God. He says that God as the creator was once a useful way to explain the natural world, the seasons, the rains, the floods, crop growth, etc. (Geering 2014: 121) Over time, God the creator became God the controller, God the judge, God the puppeteer. As scientific knowledge developed, so did our understanding of the workings of the natural world and the traditional images of God became less and less convincing. Some people felt they had to choose between God and science.

And yet, for others, there is a sense that not everything about life and living can be explained by science or reproduced in a laboratory. For such people, there remains a dimension of life that is spiritual, a part of us that is inspired by the awe and the wonder of the universe, a part of us that is touched by the goodness of our fellow human beings; a part of us that senses something life giving in the human experience; a part of us that seeks to understand our place in the universe and our purpose in life. Continue reading

Climate Change Action Group

As reported in a recent post, the ARRCC group led by St John’s Cathedral Dean, Rev Peter Catt, issued a media statement to the gathered media in the grounds of the Cathedral on 20th November 2017.

Faith Leaders Climate Statement November 2017

Dear Queensland Premier and Leader of the Opposition And Prime Minister and Leader of the Federal Opposition, We are from diverse faith traditions in Queensland including the Anglican Church, Catholic Church, Jewish faith, Pagan Tradition, Unitarian Universalists, Uniting Church, Quakers, and inter-faith and cultural organisations. As leaders in our faith communities, we feel compelled to challenge Queensland’s proposal to assist and partner with the Adani Group to develop the Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin because of the effect the resulting carbon emissions will have on our climate, our economy, the world’s poor and the environment. With global warming being a threat to the viability of our agricultural and tourism industries, our marine life, and the wildlife in this beautiful State, it seems unconscionable that any current or future Queensland government would make a development decision that puts all this at risk. We believe that people of goodwill must work together to reduce greenhouse gas pollution at emergency speed. Therefore, the development of the mine is unacceptable, as are all forms of government support, direct or indirect, for the mining, transport and shipping of fossil fuels.
We urge both governments to instead invest in renewable energy technology which will create far more employment opportunities than the proposed mine. We call on you to refuse approval for Northern Australia Infrastructure Funds to be used to build the railway line for the Adani mine. We plead with you on behalf of our fellow Queenslanders and Australians, for the members of our faith groups, for the millions of vulnerable people on earth, for future generations who have no say of their own, and for all of creation. Yours in peace Dr Paul Inglis – CEO UCFORUM – Uniting Church Peter Arndt – Executive Officer, Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of Brisbane Heather Abramson – Abramson Educational Consulting and member of the Jewish Community Dr Rose Elu – Anglican Torres Strait Islander Community Dr Brian Adams – Director, Centre for Interfaith & Cultural Dialogue, Griffith University Renee Hills – Brisbane Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Linda Ward – Pagan Tradition Dean Peter Catt – St John’s Anglican Cathedral The Rev’d Peter Moore – Chair, Angligreen Taisoo Kim Watson – Quakers Duncan Frewin – Quakers The Rev’d Dr Jo Inkpin – St Francis Theological College, Anglican Church The Rev’d Murray Fysh, Merthyr Rd Uniting Church, New Farm The Rev’d Bruce Boase – Member of the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Anglican Commission Queensland Churches Environmental Network.The Statement released at that gathering:

Another statement had been issued previously from the Council of the Union for Progressive Judaism:

PRESS RELEASE 15th November 2017

The Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia and the Council of Masorti Rabbis of Australia oppose the development of the Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin by the Adani Group because of the devastating effect the resulting carbon emissions will have on our environment, and the subsequent risks to our World Heritage Great Barrier Reef.
It is unconscionable for the current or any future government to use public funds, services or loans to support the promotion of fossil fuels.
We urge governments to increase investment in renewable energy technology which will create cleaner and safer employment opportunities.

Further information: Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Environmental Advisor to the Rabbinic Council of the Union for Progressive Judaism. 0417 104987


Is the Sea of Faith Rising?

Radio National (ABC)
recent broadcast (Sunday 26 November 2017 6:05PM) is available for download here.

The Sea of Faith, an international organisation of ‘progressive Christians’, takes its name from the famous poem Dover Beach about the ebbing of faith. But today’s SOF members entertain new developments in Christianity, including the New New Testament, incorporating ancient documents that were excluded from the canon, edited by Hal Taussig.
Image: Sir Lloyd Geering addressing the SOF in NZ (RK)

The founder of the SOF in New Zealand, Lloyd Geering, was charged with heresy, as was Hal Taussig, many years later. Are they heretics or reformers?
Image: Rev Hal Taussig, United Methodist Church of America (UMC)

Recorded at the Sea of Faith conference in New Zealand; includes members Margaret Rushbrook from north of Wellington and Patricia Crompton of Christchurch.

For more information or to join SOF contact Rodney Eivers.



NCCA and the Stop Adani Coal Campaign

The National Council of Churches in Australia

After the recent news in relation to the Commonwealth Bank what are the next steps in this campaign?

People of faith are encouraged to join in the conversations in Summits being held in various locations around the country.

Stop Adani Summits
Since March over 160 local #StopAdani groups have formed right across the country from Cairns to Castlemaine, Perth to Parramatta. The campaign is moving quickly and opponents are still pushing forward, now is the time to come together

The #StopAdani Summits are gatherings which give us a chance to:

  • Meet and connect with others in your community taking action to #StopAdani,
    Hear an update on the state of play, from the politics to the finance and more,
    Share stories, resources and plans to make our movement powerful and coordinated.

Lobbying Federal MP
Faith leaders have been busy keeping the pressure on Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg. On Friday 25 July an interfaith group protested outside his office in Melbourne. A number of faith leaders met with the Minister on the 3 August, including the NCCA President, Bishop Philip Huggins.

See a further post below, about the ARRCC Media Alert to be presented from St John’S Cathedral next Monday. This will target the Queensland election campaigns.


A Multi-faith Climate Statement presented in Brisbane

ARRCC Media Alert

Can you come on Monday 20th November, around 9 am to St John’s Cathedral, 373 Ann St, Brisbane City to be present when our climate change statement to the Queensland Government is released at a media event?

Climate Change Statment
Our statement is complete. We have 10 signatories. Rev Peter Catt can accept signatures until COB Friday 17th November. The list on the letter will be updated and corrected at that time. If you or someone you know would like to be a signatory, please contact Peter at It would be great to have some more signatures. Please note that a signatory does not have to be the head of Church/Faith Group. They can be any ordained/Lay person who is seen as a leader in that faith community.

The statement will become available on Monday 20th November.

Media Event
A wide range of media will be invited prior to the statement release on Monday 20th at 9.30 am but we’d like you to come earlier so that we can be organised. We need as many people as possible to come (with placard if you wish – similar to what we had at the Gathering along the lines of Energy Innovation; Not Earth Desecration), Save the Planet, etc, AND some STOP ADANI posters, T-shirts.

Wear smart casual clothing or religious garb and symbols if appropriate. We need a strong visual presence.

The event will be held in the grassed courtyard adjacent to the Cathedral, away from the street noise. If it’s raining, we will move into a room in the Cathedral.

The media event is due to begin at 9.30 am.

Please RSVP to me if you can come.

Warm regards,

Renee Hills

PS. Paul Inglis will represent the UCFORUM at this gathering.


The Reformation 500 years on…

In recent days there have been many events commemorating the 500 years since Luther ‘posted’ his 95 theses and disturbed the Church in a way that it could not ignore. But the Reformation Dinner organised by the ACTS group of Aspley Uniting Church was different. Inspirational, 86 year old, dynamic elder, political lobbyist, conscience pricker and entertaining author and speaker, Everald Compton MC’d the event.

Many progressives took up the invitation to the dinner which was limited to 160 people.

Uniting Church Moderator, David Baker, led the field of Church leaders who spoke. He drew a parallel between the ‘indulgences’ that placed the Church offside with moral thinkers of the 16th century and the ‘indulgences’ that operate in our contemporary market driven society. We still seek after unfulfilled promises of great personal outcomes by buying our comforts. He was followed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop, Mark Coleridge, who emphasised the complexity of the social and theological milieu in which the Church has evolved its teachings and the search for Jesus in all of this complexity. Anglican Archbishop, Phillip Aspinall, drew our attention to the unique place of the Anglican Church as it straddles both Catholic and Protestant elements in its makeup and the way it has, since the Reformation, attempted to find the ‘middle’ way for the Church.

These religious identities were complemented with Wayne Swan, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Tracy Davis, State Member for Aspley, and John Herron, former Senator and Ambassador to the Holy See. Rev Sandra Jebb provided both opening and closing reflections.

An encouraging message was received from the Governor, Paul de Jersey who is currently in Israel for the Beersheba ceremonies.

This is the first event in a long term plan outlined by the Master of Ceremonies, Everald Compton, to address the crisis of credibility facing Christianity in society. It was a great start to an ambitious project… but Everald is noted for many ambitious projects and also for his many successes. Watch for the next stage in early 2018 – calling together of 500 leaders in our community to launch a new Reformation!


PCNQ does fellowship and discussion

Today’s gathering of PCNQ members at New Farm served two purposes – an opportunity for fellowship by progressive Christians and a chance to talk about the impact on each of us of the seminars led by Hal Taussig and Michael Morwood. Some people came because they missed the seminars and had heard about how good they were. So we were able to give them a taste of the topics. 

As this gathering came soon after several of our group attended the (New) Reformation Dinner at Geebung, the discussion also included reflections on what was a very interesting event.

PCNQ plans to have regular fellowship/discussion mornings (with great morning teas) to respond to the growing interest in conversations, literature, and developments in progressive Christianity. Also on their agenda is a desire to bring together all the progressive Christian groups of South East Queensland in an informal network of mutual support.

Watch out for future developments from this enthusiastic group by following this blog or the PCNQ FaceBook page –


Reflecting on a very successful seven seminars

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As we look back over the last fortnight and the successful running of seven seminars in New Farm, Redcliffe, Buderim, Fortitude Valley and Caloundra, it is very pleasing to report that each seminar was unique and interesting and brought positive feedback.

Thank you to the team at PCNQ and each of the Explorers Groups that mounted the seminars. Thank you also to the hosts who billeted the speakers and kept our costs down.

It was a great challenge to offer two notable exponents of progressive Christianity, both organisationally and economically, but in the end it was worth it.

Professor Hal Taussig was starting a Common Dreams on the Road series in several States after doing the same in New Zealand as a build up to next years Common Dreams Conference in Sydney. Book sales and orders, especially for his A New New Testament were greater than we anticipated. Watch for a review of this book soon. We brought Michael Morwood from Perth after the incredibly good feedback we had about his presentations at Common Dreams 4 in Brisbane last year. Once again he achieved a very high standard of teaching and discussion. As organisers we were impressed with the way the two speakers who had never met set to work to integrate around common themes.

The PCNQ has resolved to continue meeting monthly at New Farm as a fellowship and discussion group. Watch for more news about this and for events at other Explorers groups.