Category Archives: Events


The Progressive Christian Network (Q) Explorers group have an interesting topic for their morning tea conversation next Wednesday


Join us for our regular monthly friendly conversation about something provocative or tantalising….. Do you follow an ‘ism’? What are some of these ‘isms’? How much do they contribute to the betterment of humankind?  

Actually, the suffix –ism is from latin -ismos or a doctrine or principle or a faith system. So almost all religions can be called with the –ism suffix. Here are a few ….. 

Theism, monotheism, Atheism, A-theism, Agnosticism, Pantheism, Panentheism, fundamentalism, humanism, Hinduism, Sufism, Buddhism, Absolutism ….. and the list goes on

but Christianity and Islam are not ‘ism’ words (Is that significant?)….

Some ‘isms’ we won’t focus on!……

Let’s talk over morning tea…..Could be fun! Just turn – no cost.

Please note our conversation about Euthanasia is now in March. More details coming.


Easter gathering of progressives – an invitation


Fernbrook Lodge near Dorrigo NSW

Enquiries: Glennis Johnston

Forging Identity Relationships and Empowerment through        
Listening Interconnection Gratitude Hope and Transformation

Friday 19th April – Monday 22nd April  
Easter – a time for lamenting loss and nurturing life, *storytelling*,
exploring the spiritual challenges of a divided world.                               
TIMING     The formal gathering begins 11am Friday and concludes 10am Monday.    Participants are welcome to arrive earlier or stay a day or two afterwards in order to explore the beautiful Dorrigo plateau with its
waterfalls and rainforest before returning home. Please phone Glennis to arrange longer stays.
PARTICIPATION  An invitation is extended to all those interested in a ‘progressive’ perspective on all things spiritual – social cohesion,
diversity, compassionate communities, sustainability, connecting the
personal with the global, forming and strengthening friendships of
support. Children are welcome to participate. Glennis Johnston will
facilitate the gathering and guest speakers will open discussion on these
important topics.
LOCATION   Dorrigo is a small country town on the highland plateau just one hour from the airport in Coffs Harbour. Fernbrook Lodge is a B&B
and retreat centre a short drive outside of Dorrigo on 5 acres at 4705
Waterfall Way. The retreat centre boasts glorious views across the
ACCOMMODATION  & COST        The B&B has a limited number of queen rooms as well as spots to park a campervan or tent  near an amenities
block. Dorrigo also offers a variety of accommodation from motel and
B&B to caravan park.    $50 per participant or $100 per family will
contribute to the cost of hosting this event plus a suggested donation of $10 per meal. All meals from Friday morning  until Monday lunch will be available. There is no charge for camping or breakfasts.
NSW – Glennis Johnston 0427 338008      
QLD – Lesley Bryant 0408 777197    

Caloundra Explorers 2019

Gatherings planned for 2019:

Theme for the year: The Teachings of Jesus and Society

at Caloundra Uniting Church
56c Queen St Caloundra, Sunshine Coast, Qld.

First for year is on Sunday 24th February 5.30pm.  Theme “Called Home: Heaven, Hell and Eternal Life – An Afterlife?”. Leader is John Everall with a support team. Please note the change in regular date to allow for the first church service for our new minister the previous week.  Summer starting time applies 5.30pm to 7.30pm approx.

Second Gathering is also slightly date adjusted.  To avoid a clash with Easter, the Explorers Gathering is Sunday 14th April.  5pm. Theme is offered as “A Liturgy for the Celebration of Life”.  This model Liturgy has been prepared in full detail by Rev. Rex Hunt for use by progressive groups and churches.  A Leader and Team to develop this specifically for our Explorers’ use is open for offers. Contact John Everall  mob.0408624570.

And then we have our third Gathering : Sunday June 16th at 5pm.   This is “Heretics Sunday” which opens up some fascinating thought patterns and discussion.  Who should we dwell upon?  Geering, Vosper, Spong, Joan of Arc, many more!

Pieter Hoogendoorn has gone for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a so-called ‘heretic’ whose writings  have enthused Pieter for many years.  Pieter will lead this Gathering  themed as “Heretic?- Bonhoeffer and Christianity “  ( Dietrich Bonhoeffer was only thirty-nine years old when he was executed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945, yet his courage, vision, and brilliance have greatly influenced the twentieth-century Church and theology.)

A theme for the second half of the year is ‘ Lives in Conflict”, a highly contemporary topic within our society. Leader Anne Hoogendoorn.

Should be some good discussions during this year if the above is anything to go by!


John Everall

Caloundra Explorers Group

 Faith And the Modern Era

5th Common Dreams Conference

The Fifth Common Dreams Conference will be held on 11-14 July 2019 at Newington College in Stanmore, Sydney.

The conference theme is Sacred Earth, Original Blessing, Common Home.

Matthew Fox will be our distinguished international keynote speaker.

The conference will involve other inspiring speakers, musicians, performers, and artists who will engage with the 12 Principles of Creation Spirituality (Subject of a future post).

Matthew Fox (b. 1940) is an internationally acclaimed spiritual theologian, Episcopal priest, and activist who was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He holds a doctorate, summa cum laude, in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris and has devoted 45 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality, which is rooted in ancient Judeo-Christian teaching, inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions; welcoming of the arts and artists; wisdom centred, prophetic, and committed to eco-justice, social justice and gender justice.

He has reinvented forms of education and worship and awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West, revivifying awareness of Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, and Thomas Merton, among other premodern and post-modern spiritual pioneers. He has authored more than 35 books on spirituality and contemporary culture, among them: Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, The Reinvention of Work, A Spirituality Named Compassion and Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times. His books, celebrated around the world, have been translated into 60 languages.

Matthew Fox might well be the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging religious-spiritual teacher in America . He has the scholarship, the imagination, the courage, the writing skill to fulfill this role at a time when the more official Christian theological traditions are having difficulty in establishing any vital contact with either the spiritual possibilities of the present or with their own most creative spiritual traditions of the past….He has, it seems, created a new mythic context for leading us out of our contemporary religious and spiritual confusion into a new clarity of mind and peace of soul, by affirming rather than abandoning any of our traditional beliefs.” (Thomas Berry, author of The Great Work, The Dream of the Earth and The Universe Story.)

COMMON DREAMS is an alliance of Australian and New Zealand kindred organisations which promote engagement with progressive Christian thought and practice, and with progressive developments in other religious and spiritual traditions. It does this through the major “Common Dreams” conferences (Sydney 2007, Melbourne 2010, Canberra 2013, Brisbane 2016), and sponsorship of annual “Common Dreams on the Road” tours by international scholars to cities and communities across Australia and New Zealand.

Stay tuned for conference and registration details!


John Wessel – a great gift to the progressive spirituality movement.

Sad to report the death of Rev John Wessel.

Rev Bryan Gilmour had this to say to us about John –

This is just a brief summary.

John and Beryl have been close friends since I (as Presbytery Chair/Minister), was involved in his induction into the new merger of Twin Towns, Kingscliff and Coolangatta Churches. We became close friends and kept in touch through the years. He led the opening of new ministries and a new Ministry Complex at Banora Point.

He was always exploring wider aspects of the Christian faith, and after retirement in 1997, continued to expand his spiritual horizons and in early years, led the Gold Coast Sofia Group, probably soon after John Spong‘s first visit to Australia in about 2002. He wrote many articles related to political and religious contentious issues and was one of the Guest Speakers at the Gold Coast Sofia Conference in 2012. I’m attaching that Paper -“The future Spiritual Community” which could be good to publicize again (see next posting).

John was an active community person, having been President and Tour Director of Probus and a member of the local Golf Club.

When ministering at Bradden in Canberra, he was strongly engaged as Chaplain at Duntroon and will be given an RSL Tribute at his funeral tomorrow at the Melaleuca Station Memorial Gardens Chapel at 1pm (NSW Time).

John has been a valued contributor to the UC FORUM. One of his notable papers will follow.



DARE International Conference June 2019

Call for Papers: DARE Global Forum 2019 – Christian World Mission (CWM)

Discernment and radical engagement (DARE) are at the heart of the mission that makes CWM what it is. Through DARE, CWM partners with committed and creative thinker-practitioners of our time, signaling to ourselves and to the world, that our loyalty is to the God of life who calls us to take on the life-giving mission for which Jesus lived and died. DARE also comes out of the conviction that another world is possible. Another world free from the politics of hate; ideologies of supremacy; enslavement to the imperial logic; a world in which ecology could heal; security of children is a priority; strangers welcome each other; movement of people is a right and freeing; the elderly are treated with compassion and care.

For more information about DARE 2019 and the call for papers, click here

For more information about CWM, click here

For a YouTube presentation clip from the General Secretary of CWM (Rev Dr. Collin Cowan) click here  Dr Cowan is based in Singapore.

The Council for World Mission is a worldwide partnership of Christian churches. The 32 members are committed to sharing their resources of money, people, skills and insights globally to carry out God’s mission locally. CWM was created in 1977 and incorporates the London Missionary Society (1795), the Commonwealth Missionary Society (1836) and the (English) Presbyterian Board of Missions (1847).

DARE brings together the radical soul of discernment and sense-making in theology and biblical criticism; with the yearnings for signifying engagement that rise out of the slums of modernity and the valleys of despair, and the commitment to redemption songs that inspire disturbance at the hubs of power.


PCN Explorers meeting in Brisbane on Wednesday 28th November

Just 5 weeks to Christmas, but we will fit in one more PCN Explorers meeting on Wednesday 28th November – none in December of course!

In a previous email I suggested a meeting on Sunday 25th Nov, but had only a just a few who are interested in Sunday afternoon meetings and in particular, only 4 for the planned Sunday. For this reason, we have decided to cancel that date. HOWEVER, the topic is postponed to next year SO WATCH THIS SPACE FOR FURTHER NEWS ABOUT THE TOPIC OF EUTHANASIA. Seems like this topic will be one of interest next year as the State Government considers a change to legislation.

Wednesday 28th November

We will meet at 10 am at Merthyr Road Uniting Church for morning tea, fellowship and discussion. Since this is the period of Advent, leading up to Christmas, it might be a good time to reflect on these seasons of the year. As with the last gathering, there will be no ‘expert presenter’, but I am sure there will be plenty of people of diverse thought who can contribute their thoughts on the meaning of advent and Christmas.

Rev Rex Hunt has published Cards, Carols and Claus: Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity which shares a brief story of the celebration of Christmas globally and in Australia and includes quotes from many authors. Hunt maintains that The festival called Christmas is a celebration still ‘under construction’ It is a weaving of story, myth, customs and ritual. From its inception, it has been debated, ignored, celebrated, banned, and from the mid 1800s, reinvented.

Here are some questions to get your thinking started. What is the significance of Advent that many churches observe? What are you waiting for? Is Christmas a time of devotion of just another festival? How do the Nativity narratives touch you? Do you have a favourite Christmas Carol or song? What words come to mind?

Maybe you could write no more than a page to bring to share with the group. You may have quotes from other authors that ‘speak’ to you. I certainly have one from Robin Myers that resonates with my thinking that I will bring.

I hope you can join us. I quick email to say you are coming is helpful (but not essential) so we know how many cups and chairs to put out. We are grateful to Merthyr Road Uniting Church for allowing us to use their central and versatile venue.

We continue to explore how to use language and music that speaks to 21st century people of a love that is relevant, not only sustaining our lives, but enabling hope, joy and peace to lift us above the mundane and allow us to live with all the human integrity we can muster. This too is our wish for your family and friends.
warm regards

Ross and Desley Garnett
Ross – 0409 498 402
Desley – 0409 498 403


Something different in a worship event

The 9:30am service on Sunday 18/11/2018 at West End Uniting, corner of Vulture and Sussex Streets, Brisbane is advertised as an All Ages Service – it will follow the theme:
The wonder of God who comes close to us.

Guest presenter is Peter Marshall. He will give a Nature based kid’s address plus a personal reading relating to this theme which will be delivered in the time space where the Message would usually be given by the Minister. 15 mins of the service following his section will be for discussion, journaling, quiet time and craft activity (people attend their preference).

Peter has made the following reflection on our review of Peter Gunson’s God Ethics and the Secular Society to the UCFORUM as he prepares for this Sunday:

Like many books or précis of books I come across in very recent times they seem to echo my own thoughts. Generally I find them to support my world view, but in so doing usually do not provide any challenge for me. Of course there is inherent challenge within my world view so perhaps I expect too much in wanting books such as John Gunsons to provide more. At any rate I will be sharing something of my world view at the West End Uniting church on Sunday 18 November at the 9:30am service. I will be most interested to see how my sharing of personal experiences are received and am of course quite nervous about the outcome. But given I am not a minister or even a church member, I think it quite courageous of the West End committee to take a chance on turning quite a large proportion of the service over to me. I hope to bring people to a sense of great wonder through sharing personal experiences of nature and ecology that maybe are very foreign to many churched members. Oh well, gotta take a chance sometimes.



Discussion: Panentheism

St Catherines Anglican Middle Park PAX (Progressive Anglicans) are having an advent dinner on 11 NOV 2018 at 6pm. During the meal there will be discussion about George Stuart’s writing on Panentheism. He has encapsulated this understanding of God in a nutshell and gives some answers to the difficult questions that are logical and form a solid understanding of God.

If you are interested in attending, contact Denis Freeman            0409 640 637

43 Macfarlane Street, Middle Park Q 4074

There is plenty of parking at the church—the driveway is located between the church and the Guide Hut next door.