Category Archives: News

Congratulations Duncan MacLeod

Thanks Dick Carter for sharing this news with us:

New Executive Officer for eLM Victoria and Tasmania Synod

Rev Duncan MacLeod – currently Presbytery Minister, Port Phillip East Presbytery, Melbourne

Duncan was part of the team facilitating the establishment of the UCFORUM in Queensland more than 2 decades ago.

The position is one of the most influential in the Synod particularly because it contains Pilgrim College and the other units involved in the preparation & ongoing education of clergy & also of lay education. He replaces Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes, a good friend of the progressive movement, who is retiring.

The Uniting Church in Australia
Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
Port Phillip East Presbytery
Thursday 16 August, 2022

Dear friends,
I am writing to inform you that Rev Duncan Macleod has accepted the call to become the Executive Officer, eLM (equipping Leadership for Mission), commencing 1 February 2023.
Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes has retired from the eLM EO position, with 30 April 2022 as her last day active in the role. The updated placement profile was approved by the Placements Committee in November 2021. Discernment by the Placements Committee was undertaken and the role was advertised twice, but no appointment was made.

In May 2022, the Placements Committee resolved that the position be classified as a priority placement. This means that the Placements Committee could approach a person still within their first five years in a placement.

Duncan was approached, and after discernment he agreed to enter a conversation. His appointment was confirmed by the Synod Standing Committee at its meeting on Saturday 13 August, and a letter of call was issued
on Monday 15 August. Duncan has now accepted the call.
Duncan will be taking up a significant missional leadership role in the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. eLM is focused on serving and resourcing the presbyteries and congregations, the individuals and groups across the Synod to increase their capacity to engage, lead and thrive as disciples in mission. It has four streams:
• Education and formation for leadership
• Priorities, focus and advocacy
• Relationships and connections
• Marketing, functions and administration

We in the Presbytery of Port Phillip East know that Duncan is well equipped to carry out this role with distinction. He takes on the role with our support and prayers. While we are sad to lose Duncan from his position as Presbytery Minister: Team Leader, we look forward to working closely with him in his new role.

The Presbytery Standing Committee has commenced the process for finding someone to take up the Presbytery Minister: Team Leader role. We will keep you informed of our progress in this important task.

Yours in fellowship
Tom Spurling
Presbytery Chair


Anglican Church in Australia splits

Anglican Church in Australia splits

Please copy and paste into your search engine.



St Lucia Spirituality Group News

Newsletter May 2022


Firstly, we are examining the possibility of holding hybrid meetings that enable us to combine a physical meeting, for those who desire it, with simultaneous access to Zoom to enable those unable to attend to participate. There are both physical (suitable venue) and technological (audio and visual) barriers to overcome in order to achieve this. Unfortunately, we cannot report any progress on this ambition, so our next meeting will be held on Zoom.

Butterfly Series – Next Meeting on Episode 8, Showing Up

Our meeting to consider “Showing Up” will be held on Zoom at 6:00pm AEST on Tuesday 24 May. To obtain your preliminary reading material and to register your attendance, please email John at

Butterfly Series – What’s Next?

This meeting will conclude our examination of Wilber’s model of human development as a guide to understanding how we growing spiritually, along with what we understand our growth into maturity as adults looks like. Our meetings have produced thoughtful and constructive conversations that have expanded our views.

Ultimately, we are all looking for a coherent narrative that helps us make sense of our place in the world, that enables us to enjoy fulfilling and fruitful lives. Yet, it can be challenging to reconcile what we now know through academic and scientific research, as well as personal experience, with what we have learnt from our school days about religion.  For example, consider the alternative views of the origin and evolution of our universe or in psychology and social behaviour.

Cognitive dissonance is the term psychologists use when there is conflict between our existing beliefs and new information that we know to be true. There are many theologians who are examining these issues and their work is accessible through their books, podcasts and videos. They lead us in re-envisaging long established ideas that incorporate new knowledge in a way that makes sense to us, that leads us toward a new worldview and thereby enables us to overcome the cognitive dissonance. This can move us towards paradigm shifts in our thinking.

As we embark on examining new topics for our meetings, we shall explore some of these new developments. Just as longstanding beliefs such as the divine right of monarchs, the acceptability of colonialism and slavery, and the subjugation of women have been found to be deficient – even when justified through reliance on literal interpretations of the bible – we can reflect on these new areas of study and determine what we think to be more credible.

Some of these studies re-imagine concepts such as the creation story, atonement theory, salvation and resurrection, for example. As a result, our enhanced understanding can lead us to grow spiritually and to become more fully the people God desires us to be.

We would also be keen to hear from members if they have questions or subjects that they find particularly perplexing or interesting. We want to build the Butterfly Series on the foundation of members’ experience.

Anglican Synod

You may be aware of this synod meeting last week and reported in several articles in the Australian. This synod is the first since the legalisation of mixed marriages in 2017.  There are fears that the opposing views on same sex unions, on the one hand, but also whether or not these unions can be blessed, might lead to a schism in the Anglican church in Australia. There is discussion on these articles on our FB page if you are interested in seeing it.

Our Facebook Page

The St Lucia Spirituality Group is a community seeking to develop a more mature understanding of what lies at the core of spiritual beliefs, embracing explanations for the nature, meaning and purpose of life. We currently have 33 members on our private Facebook page, of whom about half are active.

Interaction is the lifeblood of a community. Therefore, we wish to encourage you to make posts on Facebook about questions you are considering, books you have read, interesting podcasts you have listened to or videos you have seen. Furthermore, we would ask you to invite friends who you think may be interested in spiritual enquiry and development to join us. You could share this newsletter and invite others to our next meeting.

The primary purpose of our newsletter is to supplement our Facebook page and to keep you informed about our activities. We invite you to find our FB group by clicking on this link, it will take you to our page where you will be able to apply to join.

If you are not a Facebook user, we can help you set up your account with maximum privacy, you can be anonymous and even use a nick name or an alias if you wish. Consult Robert or John if you want help.

You can also contact us by email

Go well…
John Scoble & Robert van Mourik


A temporary hiccup in the delivery of Rex Hunt’s wonderful resources

Rex Hunt has sent this message to all who use his resources:

Due to changes at my server and then a new server not coming up with support/assistance when similar issue arose, my web site:   is down.

For a while I thought I had lost everything.

But with the help of some very talented friends in Canberra a new-look web site will emerge from the ruins. I am still hoping to retain its name.

But all of this will take time.

So my sincere apologies to those of you who have used my site/resources, etc in the past.

It is my hope things will resume shortly. In the meantime if there is some resource you would like I will see if I can search the raw stuff on my computer and supply – or something similar. But I don’t have everything and believe it or not, not all backups are helpful or complete.


So please stay with me. (Even though I reckon my life-span has been reduced some 10 years or so!)

And when my new site (hopefully contents at old www address), I will again let you know.




Closure of The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra

We have received advice (25/08/2021) that CPRT Canberra has been wound up after a number of years of inactivity and after the achievement of its goals of advancing new thinking in spirituality.

The CPRT was established in 2002 with a small grant of seed funding from the Uniting Church in Australia.  It was an initiative of St James Uniting Church Curtin, led by Rev Rex Hunt.  Over the next twelve years or so, the Centre offered a rich and diverse program of speaker and other events and members participated in the Common Dreams Conferences – the direct outcome of CPRT initiative – and related ‘On the Road’ seminars.

There were many presentations by Australian and overseas theologians, biblical scholars and progressive theologians and many people will have fond memories of being challenged and fascinated by new thinking in spirituality.  Of special mention is the support given by both St James and other churches /individuals to a small team of local organizers when they managed the Common Dreams Conference 3 in Canberra in 2013.  On that occasion they welcomed Professor Marcus Borg to Australia!

The Centre enabled and empowered its members to explore spirituality beyond their locale.  There are now so many progressive resources available in print and online either via membership of broader groups, podcasts, and blogs etc. that people are no longer limited in their spiritual journeys.  Many of course, remain as members of local churches or faith organizations.

CPRT Canberra has done its job.  Locally.  Nationally.  Internationally.

CPRT Canberra had a large number of books and other resources held jointly in the St James Uniting Church Library. These resources will remain with the Library to be managed as the congregation (now part of Woden Valley Uniting Church) wishes.

Secondly, funds held in account totaling approximately $7,358.58 will be transferred to Common Dreams Inc, to be used to facilitate progressive spirituality events as the management board of that organization determines. More information on Common Dreams Inc can be found at: including links to like-minded progressive websites.

This information was provided by the CPRT Canberra Team-

David Slater, Linda Pure
Rev Rex Hunt


Progressive Victorians

Our friends at the Progressive Christian Network Victoria haven’t let the pandemic stop their efforts to generate critical progressive christian thinking. Here is the link to their latest newsletter.

Link to PCNV July Newsletter.

The contents include the following articles and information:

  • Living with change – David Merritt
  • Talking to My Country by Stan Grant – Review by David Merritt
  • Uluru Statement from the Heart
  • Making sense of the Progressive Christian Movement – Dr Val Webb
  • The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage by Sr. Joan Chittister -Review by Lorna Henry
  • Freeing Jesus – by Diana Butler Bass  – Review by Paul Inglis
  • August 22 PCNV meeting: Mining John’s Gospel: Wisdom for our times? with Prof Mary Coloe @ 4:00PM
  • PCNV programs for remainder of 2021

PCNV conducts regular zoom seminars also.


A new approach to youth justice

A new approach required to alter the youth justice trajectory

In response to the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021  passed by the Queensland Government, the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod (Uniting Church in Queensland) calls for effective, compassionate and evidence-based solutions.

“Most repeat young offenders are growing up in entrenched, intergenerational disadvantage. We need to address the complex and long-term causes and resource real long-term solutions.” said the Moderator of the Uniting Church in Queensland, Rev Andrew Gunton

“Family support services are crucial in assisting the whole family when trying to address offending by children and young people. Unfortunately, there are long waiting lists to access these services due to a lack of funding.” he said.

The Uniting Church in Queensland with agencies like UnitingCare Queensland and Wesley Mission Queensland provides services and support to Queensland families and young people coming into contact with police and the courts.

“We have seen that engagement in education is central to developing the skills and capacity that children and young people need to enter and remain in the workforce, which is what really brings change. It is vital that teachers and principals receive adequate training to identify and respond to the trauma related responses they see in the classroom. Increased funding should be directed at the Youth Support Coordinator roles in Queensland Schools and alternative models of education delivery, such as flexi schools.

If we address family issues at an early stage and provide therapeutic, flexible and innovative support for children, we have a better chance of reducing youth offending and increasing the wellbeing and security of the whole community.”

The Uniting Church in Queensland’s position paper on youth justice is available here.


Changes at St James Uniting, Curtin, ACT

New name – revised mission.

St James has been one of the original and continuing flag bearers for Progressive Christianity in Australia.

The 10 am service on Sunday 7 February was the last service in that building under the name of St James. It was a time of joy and remembering, and a tribute to 57 years of faith and action. The reflection offered by Simon Clarke as part of that service can be found here.

On 14 February 2021, St James Uniting Church and South Woden Uniting Church merged to form Woden Valley Uniting Church.

The vision and mission statement for the new church is printed below and sets a standard for other congregations aspiring to be progressive.

The formal commissioning of Woden Valley Uniting Church took place on Sunday 14 February, in the hall at the Pearce Community Centre.

The first morning worship service of the newly merged congregation will be at Curtin at 10 am on Sunday 21 February – in person and on Zoom.

The location of morning worship services from March onwards will alternate monthly between Pearce and Curtin.

The range of activities, classes and small small group meetings that have been operating at Curtin up until now will continue – this includes Meditation and Gathering@6.


As followers of the Way of Jesus, within a Uniting Church congregation, we strive for a church community which is:
• Welcoming and hospitable to all regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, age,
circumstance or cultural background.
• Loving, compassionate and steadfast in our relationships with each other, supportive in pastoral care and offering encouragement for active participation and lay leadership.
• Honest and accountable to each other and to the communities we serve.
• Inclusive and creative in worship which nurtures faith and strengthens connections with each other, the sacred and the world.
• Serious and honest in our exploration of the Christian faith, respectful of the Bible and
informed by contemporary Biblical scholarship, while allowing room for questioning and doubt.
• Open to learning from other faith traditions, scientific revelation and contemporary
• Active in our support of our local communities.
• Fearless in advocacy and energetic in action in support of social justice, reconciliation,
peace and wise environmental stewardship, locally, nationally and globally.
• Acting ecumenically with other churches and other faith groups.
• A vibrant community of faith living out God’s love and acting for the common good to build a just and compassionate community.
• To be a welcoming, inclusive, progressive and outward looking Christian community that nurtures spirituality and faith and encourages service.
July 2020


Church of England is Institutionally Racist

THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury has admitted the Church of England is still “deeply institutionally racist” as he speaks out about its treatment of black and minority ethnic people. Justin Welby has spoken of his personal shame at the Church of England’s institutional racism and has promised to replace a “hostile environment” with a hospitable welcome. Speaking at a meeting of the Church’s ruling body, the General Synod, the Archbishop said he was “ashamed” of its history of racism. Mr Welby said he was “almost beyond words” after hearing about the racism faced by minority parishioners, priests and officials within the church.

The Archbishop added: “There is no doubt when we look at our own church that we are still deeply institutionally racist.”

Justin Welby

Mr Welby’s comments come as Synod members voted unanimously for a motion to apologise for racism in the Church of England since the Windrush generation arrived in the UK.

The body also voted to “stamp out conscious or unconscious” racism.

The General Synod also voted to request research on how racism had influenced the fall in member numbers and the increase in church closures over the years.

The church will also now appoint an independent person to assess racism within its ranks and seek to increase the number of BAME Anglicans seeking ordination.

Mr Welby, who decided to “ditch” a prepared speech and make off-the-cuff remarks, said church appointment panels – including the crown nominations commission, which recommends new bishops – needed to have better minority ethnic representation, along with longlists and shortlists for senior clergy posts.

He said: “We did not do justice in the past. We do not do justice now.

“And unless we are radical and decisive in this area in the future, we will still be having this conversation in 20 years’ time and still doing injustice, the few of us that remain.”

The leader of the Church of England added the Church’s “hostile environment” must become a “hospitable, welcoming one” and called for “radical and decisive” progress to put an end to institutional racism.