Category Archives: UC Forum News

More from our Seminar on Refugees and Asylum Seekers

You can listen to an interview with Rebecca Lim as she reflects on her time as a volunteer on Manus Island and later in Port Moresby and Kangaroo Point, Brisbane from 2016 to 2019. There are currently 7 more episodes that can be heard on You Tube.

EPISODE 1 – Background – YouTube

Rebecca can be contacted at

Principal Migration Advisor
M Soc Sc, BA, JP (Qualified), CAHRI
G Cert Aus Migration Law & Prac
Registered Migration Agent 0746576

Rebecca is the co-founder of Brisbane on-Arrival Refugee and Asylum Seeker Hub – response and support Unit at Indooroopilly Uniting Church.

Learn more about the Indooroopilly Uniting Church Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support Hub, what they offer, how to volunteer, and how to contact them. Download the PDF through the link:



UCFORUM: The value of thinking

In the UCFORUM we celebrate thinking and critically and positively explore radical doubt. Thanks to Tim O’Dwyer we have the following reflection from the great Rene Descartes often called the father of modern philosophy.  His unfinished treatise on method, the Rules for the Direction of the Mind, which set out a procedure for investigating nature, was based on the reduction of complex problems to simpler ones solvable by direct intuition. From these intuitively established foundations, Descartes tried to show how one could then attain the solution of the problems originally posed.:

The Latin cogito, ergo sum, usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am“,[a] is the “first principle” of René Descartes‘s philosophy. He originally published it in French as je pensedonc je suis in his 1637 Discourse on the Method, so as to reach a wider audience than Latin would have allowed.[1] It later appeared in Latin in his Principles of Philosophy, and a similar phrase also featured prominently in his Meditations on First Philosophy. The dictum is also sometimes referred to as the cogito.[2] As Descartes explained in a margin note, “we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.” In the posthumously published The Search for Truth by Natural Light, he expressed this insight as dubito, ergo sum, vel, quod idem est, cogito, ergo sum(“I doubt, therefore I am — or what is the same — I think, therefore I am”).[3][4] Antoine Léonard Thomas, in a 1765 essay in honor of Descartes presented it as dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”).[b]

Descartes’s statement became a fundamental element of Western philosophy, as it purported to provide a certain foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt. While other knowledge could be a figment of imagination, deception, or mistake, Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one’s own existence served—at minimum—as proof of the reality of one’s own mind; there must be a thinking entity—in this case the self—for there to be a thought.

One critique of the dictum, first suggested by Pierre Gassendi, is that it presupposes that there is an “I” which must be doing the thinking. According to this line of criticism, the most that Descartes was entitled to say was that “thinking is occurring”, not that “I am thinking”.[5]

Reference: Cogito, ergo sum – Wikipedia 25th October 2022


Report on Seminar at Caloundra

Dear Explorers

We had a good roll-up for the first week of our study of John Humphreys’ book Our benevolent cosmos: Embracing the mystery of life. We were indeed lucky to have John with us, and his wife Janice, who did the illustrations for the book. John shared some of his experiences from his 50 years in the science, technology and innovation environment. For those who weren’t there I will endeavour to give you some idea of what we discussed.

To give some idea of the immensity of the cosmos I showed this James Webb Space Telescope image of a patch of sky behind a grain of sand held at arm’s length. It contains thousands of galaxies 4.6 billion light years away.

P vii–ix  John writes that the principal aims off the book are ‘encouraging an open mind in embracing life’s mystery and suggesting pathways to discover our pure essence’. In his book he has included the thoughts of scientists, sages, spiritualists, sceptics, philosophers, artists, anthropologists, theologians and historians. He suggests ‘that the book be read slowly and mindfully, to allow its content to penetrate beyond the thinking, intellectualised mind’.

P x John talks about the ‘universal mind’ or ‘universal consciousness, which can be defined as ‘an energy field or life force that permeates all of creation’ (Bahai Teachings)

P 1 I showed the video What is dark matter and dark energy? (6.20 min)

P 3  ‘. . . there is a splendid natural order underlying the chaos of the universe, our own planet Earth, and in every human being.’

P 4–5. ‘. . . if organised religion was serving us well, we would witness a surge, rather than a dramatic, accelerating decline in church attendances worldwide . . .(It needs) to embrace an alternative, more contemporary, community-centred, environmentally friendly, spiritually based direction.’

P 6 ‘. . . the rapidly decreasing Christian Church attendances worldwide demonstrate that a new Reformation is occurring, rather than the idea that Christian adherents are doomed to a dying Church.’ What an affirming statement for ‘progressive’ Christians!

P  7 We must evolve ‘as beings that sense our connectedness to all that is seen and unseen. . . to walk that pathway mindfully—not through intellectual pursuits on the meaning of life, but through sensing, feeling, loving, evolving and discovering the joy of transcending the body in sacred stillness.

We worked though the Appendix: Scientific explorations of our cosmos. This was interesting but we sure didn’t understand it all.

P 135 Matthew Fox said ‘We have a relationship with the stars . . . we should find God in nature—not in a book.’

P 137. I showed the YouTube video What is string theory? (2.34 min)

P 140  John shared his knowledge of the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest radio telescope.

We look forward to discussing Chap 1 Connecting with the cosmos (p 9–35) next Tuesday (tomorrow).

Ken Williamson


Connecting up people in isolation

Our efforts to find people who would like to be in an email discussion group because they can’t access any of our seminars has not at this stage produced significant numbers. The invitation still stands. We had a handful of people who like the idea but this is really not enough to generate worthwhile conversations. In the meantime we will interpret this as telling us that the regular posts from the UCFORUM are providing most people with all they need. We are always open to suggestions.



A new initiative – Finding similar minded people

You are not alone.

Often we receive requests for information about other progressives living in a particular area. Sometimes we are able to link people up but all too often we are unsuccessful. There are many individual subscribers who are not near seminars or progressive congregations or prefer not to be involved with organisations. They are thinkers and readers and often tell us they enjoy our posts but would like to chat to someone and share their own thoughts in a safe setting.

We are also often asked how many progressives are there? The good news is that there are thousands and the numbers are growing. We have hundreds subscribed to the UCFORUM and many represent groups or partners. They share what we publish and often have group discussions around our postings. We are also linked to major groupings in Australia and overseas such as the Victorian, South Australian, Queensland, and Western Australian Progressive Christian Networks and smaller groups across denominations and outside of any church affiliation in most States. It is also wonderful to have many subscribers from overseas, in particular New Zealand, USA and Great Britain.

To try and fill a need we are inviting individuals who have no contact with a group of progressives to let us know whether they are willing to be in an online group.

This would simply involve these people providing their email address to the group and whenever they wanted to, raise issues, comment on readings, express opinions and react kindly to each other’s thoughts. There are ways to agree or disagree that are friendly and in 22 years we have never had evidence of any nastiness. You can be in the group and not comment or just occasionally comment or make a brief comment. Or you can try to stimulate conversation with something challenging or controversial!

So, if you are one of these people, and want to participate in our UCFORUM ONLINE GROUP just drop me a line by email and I will make up the group. Be aware that in this group you will share your email address and can drop out by request to me at any time. You can chat with one or all of the group.


Paul Inglis


Thanks for the great response

Request for your church connection

Clearly many of our subscribers are ‘refugees’ from the Church or not involved with a congregation now and could not tell us the name of their congregation. But many are also remaining within the Church and managing somehow to sustain their progressive perspective. From the many responses we received to our request for information, we have read personal stories of journeys which were often very challenging, even sad. It is good to know that the UCFORUM is meeting the needs and interests of so many people. Even though we did not intend to identify people in this process a few have used the Reply button to share their details with everyone. Special thanks to those people. We have been able to add to our list on the front page of the blog showing places that have members of our UC Progressives Network. This invitation remains open and we welcome further responses.




Request for information (voluntary)

Thank you for journeying with us.

With the steady and continuous growth of the number of subscribers to the UCFORUM we are keen to know where you come from. This is a voluntary exercise and in no way will your name be linked to a location on our blog. Two questions:

  1. If you attend a church we would like to add this detail to our list on the blog.  Name of Church, Location and Denomination?
  2. Where in the world do you live? Country, State, Town?

Of course, if you want to tell us more or send a photo, or tell us your story and interests we are very interested. We want to make sure our posts are matching interests and needs.

If you want to share an opinion, something you have read, or an experience that we can post and share please drop it on us.

If there is a link relevant to progressive christianity that you would like us to consider adding to the blog, please give us the details.

Send any of this information to



Dr Paul Inglis, Moderator, UCFORUM.


Greetings to all our subscribers

Wishing everyone in our continually growing network of Progressive Christians a very happy Christmas and a new year that brings good news, hope and increased love for all humanity.

As we approach our 22nd year we are thankful for the contributions from members and the way in which we see the teachings and example of Jesus being shared. Many of our new members have come to us through your invitations. Keep it up.

Paul Inglis



Pitt Street, Sydney gets a new minister

Wonderful news from Jo Inkpin:

I am deeply humbled and thrilled to announce that I am again being called to ministry in Sydney – as the next Minister of Pitt Street Uniting Church.  This is a wonderful high profile progressive faith community which gathers on Gadigal land in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.   After much reflection and careful discernment with the Uniting Church, Penny and I believe that this is the very best way in which I can serve with others in nurturing faith, love and hope in the next few years (from 1 March 2021) – as well as, very happily, being again close to family in Australia.  I extend my thanks and blessings to all with whom I have journeyed in the past and to those I look forward to joining soon…
I have long been grateful to Pitt St Uniting Church for its prominent prophetic commitments to the core Uniting Church values of seeking God’s justice and compassion, celebrating diversity, and being actively open to dynamic fresh expression of God’s love and truth.  To become a part of its vibrant life is a great joy, particularly in our challenging times.  For as part of the Sydney Presbytery and wider Uniting Church, its members continue to look to the future with a renewing vision for themselves and others. This involves developing as a metropolitan city centre for spirituality and the arts, as well as strengthening Pitt Street’s key role as a fully affirming beacon of hope for the common good.  I am therefore hugely looking forward to life together with all involved.  It is also personally very inspiring to follow the ministries at Pitt St of such liberating leaders as Dorothy McRae-McMahon and Margaret Mayman.

Penny and I are immensely thankful for the rich and diverse Anglican and other ministries in which we have been blessed to serve.  Such love and joy will assuredly continue to flourish in many parts of the Church here and overseas.  However, in our particular Australian context, the time has come for us to move into more creative and truly affirming new life.  We therefore give thanks in this for the generous hospitality of the Uniting Church, for its continuing courageous Christian leadership in society, its distinctive collaborative style of ministry, and its vital part in God’s grace and love.  We rejoice, as pilgrim people, to step out afresh together.

An invitation for Research Input

John Marsh is a subscriber to the UCFORUM. He is in the early stages of doing doctoral research on Progressive Christianity. He is keen to get widespread responses from people who have an experience and opinion about Progressive Christianity as it is practiced in church communities.

He writes:

       “Some years ago Hal Taussig, a prominent American writer on Progressive Christianity, extensively surveyed Progressive Christian Communities in the USA , He wrote a book titled A New Spiritual Home in which he discussed his findings. He identified a number of characteristics of the ‘new spiritual vitality’ which he perceived in these communities, It is my intention, and hope, to conduct a survey exploring the extent to which these characteristics are mirrored in the Australian experience… I am hoping, as a self identified member of a ‘Progressive Christian’ community that you may be prepared to complete the Questionnaire attached to assist me in this project”.

He also states:

“I would want to confine my efforts to groups that had a shared sense of community – with a sense of being a worshipping community, therefore excluding groups that only gathered for discussion.”

So, if you have ever belonged to a congregation/group that practices or inclines towards progressive approaches to Christianity, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Please contact John for a copy of his questionnaire at John Marsh and become a part of this worthwhile study.