Category Archives: Events

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!

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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.

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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.

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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
drgarn@bigpond.net.au
Ross – 0409 498 402
Desley – 0409 498 403

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Something different in a worship event

The 9:30am service on Sunday 18/11/2018 at West End Uniting https://www.westendunitingchurch.org.au/, 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.

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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   dfreeman2006@hotmail.com            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.

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Something Special: Drama and Poetry from Caloundra Explorers

“Rubbed Out!!” “But Not Forgotten!!” “But How??”

written by John Everall.

Based on the fascinating research by Jesus Seminar Fellow, Professor Arthur Dewey in his book How the Death of Jesus was remembered – Inventing the Passion, we will become part of a Panel of Inquiry as “A Further Inquiry Reviewing ‘The record as to the death of Jesus of Nazareth’ under the title “ Rubbed Out!!” “But Not Forgotten!!” “But How??”. Think Banking Inquiry but with our seven actors testing and reviewing Professor Dewey’s proposition.

In a very ‘different’ Gathering, we will firstly explore some of the wonderful senses and sentiments that the “spoken word” can convey in meditations and poetry from our 21st century culture, and then , through the medium of Drama in a play, compare this with 1st Century Jewish culture.

All Explorer and our Regional Friends are especially invited to this Gathering at 5.30pm -7.30pm

Having our Presiding Officer (Zoe McLachlan) put a Roman Envoy (George Thomas) , a Jewish Scholar (Alan Hindmarsh), a refugee from Jerusalem’s sacking (Glenwyn Carson)and a New Testament Biblical researcher (Rev. Brian Gilbert) into the limelight through questioning by our Counsels Assisting,(John Everall and Margaret Landbeck) this should give our Gathering “Panel” an enjoyable and highly instructional night.

That Panel (played by YOU!) takes part in actually weighing up ‘the evidence’ and forming a ‘consensus’ opinion as to “Does Professor Dewey’s proposition have resonance in the ‘progressive journey’ for many of today’s active Christian explorers?

Having enjoyed challenging thoughts, indulged in both chuckles and straight out laughter, and maybe a little tear with our Jewish refugee, we also add in for you a byo light finger food meal in the context of a 1st Century Didache Syrian community shared meal, and, finally, round off the evening with a return to beautiful 21st Century thoughts through Rev. Bruce Sanguin’s work for “concentrating one’s thoughts”.

Caloundra Explorers Group is never afraid to offer something that is not only ‘inspiring’ but also a bit ‘challenging’ to our journey!

Why not join in this rather special, and different, evening Gathering.

Our actors have been in rehearsal for over four weeks, and they would be delighted if you could accept their personal invitation to ‘come along’ and be part of ‘the action’ on Sunday night, 21st October, in the Caloundra Uniting Church Hall.

Enquiries: Email contact

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Report: Visit of Glennis Johnston to the Caloundra Explorers.

Glennis Johnston will be remembered by many of those present at the Explorers 8th Annual Seminar for her fascinating insight into Process Theology, plus adding in a bit more with quantum physics, a touch on the concept of time, of course throwing in resourceful meditation, and all themed through an interesting introduction using some church history to put everything into our modern perspective; … how could we not be fully engaged and delighted!! Intriguing discussion as to ‘our dark side’ and much, much , more. Glennis’ new book “ A New Spiritual Tapestry” should give considerable thought to many readers.

And of course, being Caloundra, a fabulous spread for morning tea, and Subway excelled themselves in providing the basis for our lunch ;as always! Great credit to the Caloundra Explorers Team….. why would you buy sausage rolls for morning tea when you have the best ‘home grown sausage roll maker’ in town volunteering as part of the Team!

Our 8th Annual Seminar was a resounding success….. but we are now exhausted!

Of course, all will change by the 21st October when we have our final 2018 Gathering of Explorer and our Regional Friends at 5.30pm on the Sunday night.

We will firstly explore some of the wonderful senses and sentiments that the “spoken word” can convey in meditations and poetry from our 21st century culture, and then , through the medium of Drama in a play written by one of our members, compare this with 1st century Jewish culture. Based on the fascinating research by Jesus Seminar Fellow, Professor Arthur Dewey in his book “ How the Death of Jesus was remembered – Inventing the Passion”, we will become part of a Panel of Inquiry as “A Further Inquiry Reviewing ‘The record as to the death of Jesus of Nazareth’” under the title “ Rubbed Out!!” “But Not Forgotten!!” “But How??”. Think Banking Inquiry but with our seven actors testing and reviewing Professor Dewey’s proposition. Having our Presiding Officer put a Roman Envoy, a Jewish Scholar, a refugee from Jerusalem’s sacking and a New Testament Biblical researcher into the limelight through questioning by our Counsels Assisting, this should give our Gathering “Panel” an enjoyable and highly instructional night as they weigh up ‘the evidence’ and form an opinion as to “Does Professor Dewey’s proposition have resonance in the ‘progressive journey’ for many of today’s active Christian explorers?” We also add in a byo light finger food meal in the context of a 1st century Didache Syrian community shared meal, and round off the evening with a return to beautiful 21st century thoughts through Rev. Bruce Sanguin’s work for “concentrating one’s thoughts”.

Caloundra Explorers Group is never short of something or other ‘inspiring’ to our journey! Why not join in this rather special, and different, evening Gathering.

Contact: John Everall

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Report on today’s PCNQ seminar

It is fast becoming the norm for our gatherings of ‘progressives’ to be strong on fellowship and meaningful discourse. Today was no exception. The discussion about Bessler‘s third and contemporary quest for the human Jesus was preceded with a sharing of individual thoughts on the current state of the church, society, theological studies, leadership in a time of challenge to the very notion of truth seeking, and much more. This highlighted how comfortable we are with shared conversations rather than traditional dogmatics, with learning from each other as well as the literature and enjoying the tension of contested ideas.

Participants were invited to leave notes for the committee to consider future topics for discussion. This invitation is extended to everyone. Just send your thoughts to Desley.

We are currently looking at having either the October or the November gathering on a Sunday afternoon so that people who cannot make it to weekday sessions have this option. Watch for details coming soon.

Paul Inglis 26/09/18

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