Category Archives: UC Forum News

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.

Regards,

Paul

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

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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.

Thanks,

Paul

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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 psinglis@westnet.com.au

Regards,

Paul

Dr Paul Inglis, Moderator, UCFORUM.

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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

 

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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.
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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.

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Annual Scholarship opportunity

Applications close for the Rodney Eivers Scholarship on Wednesday 18 December

This scholarship is awarded to students of Trinity College Queensland, to assist with their study. The aim of the scholarship is to provide financial support to enrolled students and to encourage the development of a greater awareness of the breadth and diversity in theology and scriptural scholarship [including Progressive Christianity] as it relates to contemporary Australian society.

The successful applicant will be informed of the scholarship award on or before Friday 6th March 2020. The presentation of the scholarship award will be on Tuesday 21st July 2020.

How to apply

In order to apply for the 2019 Rodney Eivers Scholarship, you must email or post a 2019 Rodney Eivers Scholarship application form and essay submission (see below) prior to December 18, 2019.
Applications close – Wednesday 18th December 2019

Email Scholarship@trinity.qld.edu.au

Post Trinity College Queensland Scholarship, GPO Box 674, Brisbane 4001

Submit an essay of approx. 1,500 words on the following:

‘My Personal Theological Reflection’

Drawing on the two books listed below by Marcus Borg and Tom Wright, compare and evaluate the beliefs and claims of Progressive Christianity and Orthodox (historic) Christianity. The essay should draw on evidence and arguments in the books and include some reflection on our Australian context as well as your personal theological reflection. Please use footnotes for citations and references.

Borg, Marcus J – The Heart of Christianity; Rediscovering a Life of Faith (2004). [256 pages]

Wright, N.T. – Simply Christian (2011) [224 pages]

Both books are available in the Trinity College Queensland Library

Scholarship Award

A scholarship allowance of $13,000 within one calendar year is available.

This will be paid into the student’s nominated bank account in two instalments of $6,500 at the end of each successfully completed full-time semester (July 1 and December 1).

Citizenship requirements

Australian citizens and/or permanent residents

Eligibility to apply

Be enrolled as a full-time (3 units or more) accredited student of Trinity College Queensland.
Have completed one year of full-time study (a minimum of 6 degree-level units) at a Theological College with a recognised Higher Education Provider in the last 10 years.
Have not been a previous recipient of the ‘Rodney Eivers Scholarship’

Selection criteria

Demonstrate an understanding of the perspectives presented in each book
Interaction with both books
Theological reflection on the implications of differing viewpoints

Please note that the essay requires neither personal belief nor the defence of a particular viewpoint; rather, it is marked on the above criteria

Selection Process

The Queensland Synod Advisory Council will make a recommendation based on the advertised selection criteria.

The Scholarships Committee of the Queensland Synod Finance Investment and Property Board will review and determine the successful recipient and will also approve all disbursements from the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod Scholarship Fund.

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Our Scholarship Awarded

First Trinity College Queensland Rodney Eivers Scholarship

TTC UCA Queensland Synod


On Tuesday 30th July 2019, a Trinity College Queensland, Auchenflower, the presentation of the first Trinity College Queensland Rodney Eivers scholarship for the 2019 year was made to Dylan Katthagen, a student currently at the College.
The scholarship of value $13,000 was awarded on the basis of the applicant’s undertaking some reading to write an essay on the topic: “My response to “progressive” Christianity “. In receiving the award Dylan commented that although he had some reservations about where the progressive approach to theology might be taking us, he was grateful that the studies entailed had led him to open up his thinking and become aware that there are options for Christian faith beyond orthodoxy.
The scholarships will continue to be offered in the coming years but discussions are yet to be held with Paul Hedley Jones, the new Principal of Trinity College Queensland to ascertain what the scope of the awards will be. Those interested in applying may contact the College to find current details.
In presenting the award Rodney made the following remarks, (with some editing) which seem to have been well received by the students at the gathering.
30th July 2019
On granting of Rodney Eivers scholarship to Dylan Katthagen
My first words must to be to congratulate Dylan Katthagen on being the first recipient of the Rodney Eivers scholarship. I have not had the chance yet to get to know Dylan well but from the brief interaction we have had I feel some confidence that he will be a worthy recipient of this award. Furthermore I am hopeful that his exposure to “progressive” Christianity through his studying for the scholarship will lead him to have an open approach to fitting the Christian gospel to the knowledge and experiences of people of the 21st century.
The College and I are still feeling our way with the field of applicants for the provision of the scholarships. I look with keen anticipation in getting together with our new Principal Paul to tease out some of the issues which arise. I would like, for instance, to widen the availability of the scholarships to all students and all potential students.
In doing this, however, I have struck a problem. It is connected with the nature of a theological college. A theological college course is different from an academic university course in, say, comparative religion. The nature of the university is to seek knowledge objectively. That is, all fields of enquiry are open.
Students come to a theological institution, however, from what might be called a faith position. That is, they already hold certain views and assumptions which are not to be challenged. Enquiry may seek to explain those assumptions but it may not probe into doctrinal concepts. Where do we draw that fuzzy line between “spiritual formation” and academic objectivity?
Now I look at the Australian religious scene where Christianity is declining steadily, where the census listed the biggest religious category as “no religion”. This applies for some one third of our population and growing fast. There may be many reasons for this but it is not helpful if we cannot explain Christian traditional doctrine in 21st century terms. I am sure our lecturers here at Trinity College Queensland seek to do that.
I must emphasise that I am very sensitive to the charge that I may be trying to buy influence in the content of Trinity College Queensland courses. Nevertheless, I do I see it as appropriate, to push the boundaries. To try to describe traditional orthodoxy not only in today’s language but also to explore its concepts. That would include the traditional doctrines such as the resurrection, the Trinity and substitutional atonement.
I trust you will join with me in nurturing the Kingdom of God by building up our student enrolments through such means as these scholarships. I count it as a privilege to have the opportunity to do that and look forward to engaging with your new Principal, Paul, In seeking ways that we might achieve our common purpose of being Jesus people in a turbulent world.

Rodney Eivers, Chair, UC FORUM.

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Euthanasia legislation submissions

The Queensland Government is currently conducting an
inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying. Following an excellent seminar and discussion by members of the PCNQ this morning it was obvious that this is a topic that touches the lives of many people. Dr Ian Brown from the Redcliffe Explorers group led the discussion and backgrounded this with a broad explanation of the various subtopics, legislation in Australia and overseas, and a series of case studies of people who have travelled the path of voluntary assisted dying (VAD).

This stimulated many in the gathering to describe their own experiences. Clearly there are many challenges facing individuals, medical professionals, para-professional staff and governments. Legal, economic and personal issues add complexity to the thinking.

The Uniting Church Queensland Synod is currently compiling a submission to the Queensland Parliament after inviting its members to submit their thoughts. This submission will offer a ‘theology’ of euthanasia to the deliberations prior to a Bill being drawn up. Other submissions that have been received by the Parliament so far demonstrate the diversity of perspectives on this topic.

The inquiry overview, related publications and copies of the submissions received so far can be found at Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry.

Submissions to this inquiry can be made up to 15th April 2019.

The UCA Queensland Synod Consultation paper on VAD is available at VAD Paper. The consultation process is now complete and submissions are being examined to assist the production of the Church’s submission to the Queensland Parliament.

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