Category Archives: Tributes

More on gender transitioning


Compass explores the Australian soul – our beliefs, our ethical dilemmas and the changing face of our spirituality. Stories of individuals and communities tackling life’s big questions.

Julie Peters is a legend in the trans community in Australia and was the first person to transition at the ABC. Over the years she’s collected one of the most comprehensive trans archives in the country.

Series 36 The Accidental Archivist : ABC iview




Peter Fensham – may he rest in peace and love

We have received the sad news that Emeritus Professor Peter Fensham has died in Melbourne from pulmonary fibrosis.

Peter was the first Professor of Science Education in Australia at his appointment at Monash University. He was also the founder of the Australasian Science Education Research Association in 1971 and first national President of ASTA and of AAEE. He served as an Adviser of the TIMSS project in the 1990s and of the OECD’s PISA (Science) project in the 2000s. He has published nine books and many research articles. His international contacts have included Visiting professorships in England, Sweden, Canada, Japan and Brazil.

Peter was a great explorer within the progressive Christian movement and a friend to many of us. He stayed connected to the UCFORUM over its two decades and kept in touch with us with some wonderful reflections on issues we were discussing.

His research and publication peer assessed publications were prolific producing 113 papers. He last work in 2016 was:

The Future Curriculum for School Science: What Can Be Learnt from the Past?

Fensham, P. J.1 Apr 2016In: Research in Science Education. 462p. 165-185 21 p.

He was published as 9 books, 80 articles, 17 book chapters, 6 conference papers, and several commissioned reports. As well as all this he found time to join our seminars, offer advice and encouragement and care for his wife Christine who survives him.












Rev Don Whebell remembered

Sadly we have to report the death of our good friend and active subscriber to the UCFORUM Rev Don Whebell. I enjoyed our discussions with this former moderator and minister and particularly his strong defence of the Basis of Union of the UCA which he told me was a most progressive mission statement and future focussed document. In his own words:

I never cease to be amazed, inspired, guided by and awe-struck by the Basis of Union each time I read it – or even read bits of it! Its vision for Christian unity is always timely and necessarily provocative. The centre of what inspires me in the Basis of Union is its Christological focus, its timely call to respond to the missional imperative, the Gospel and the call of Christ to mission that is ecumenical.

With the help of Andrew Dutney he used his latter years to produce a wonderful resource that makes the BOU a living set of guidelines for the Church. It is well worth perusing at: Listening to the Basis of Union.

Don’s life journey has been published in Journey online. He wrote his own story too. This is a poignant tale. It includes illustrations and a footnote from his wife Pam.

Don’s own story.

Greatly loved, deeply missed and gratefully remembered.

Paul Inglis


In Memorium – Noel Preston – My Credo

Olga has kindly shared these thoughts prepared by Noel.

  1. My CREDO is also a poem of GRATITUDE.
    Gratitude for LIFE and the JOY of being part of it all…..
    Gratitude for the influences that have shaped me and for the love of those who have nurtured me…..
    Gratitude for those epiphanies (some mystical, some public encounters, and some serious illnesses) which have been watershed points in my life’s journeys…..
  2. The CREED
    I believe….
    Together with all life forms and the ONE who is the ground of all being, I am part of a GREATER SELF. (“The everywhere God” to some, “the Ground of all Being” to others). As a human being I am one piece in this evolving WHOLE. The family of humanity is the primary community to which I belong, a Community that only flourishes in a culture that is eco-centric (not anthropo-centric). I acknowledge that other human beings may find the way toward union with the Greater Self on
    pathways different from mine. I am content to be known as a Christian if that signifies one who has been formed, and continues to be inspired, in the tradition which owes its origin to the life, teachings and death of Jesus.
    In the evolution of the Greater Self, Jesus of Nazareth is an extraordinary expression of humanity’s vocation to LOVE-AS-ACTION (grounded as he was in his relationship with the ONE he knew as “father”= abba.) When I contemplate life, the beauty of Earth and the glory of the COSMOS, I am aware of suffering, death and arbitrary destruction, but I am also conscious of mystery, compassion and redemptive
    purpose which are at the heart of the Greater Self. When I die, Love lives on and my self will merge into the heart of the Greater Self as do rivers into the sea.
    My life’s purpose is best expressed by contributing beneficially to the evolving Greater Self. This purpose is directed toward the sustenance of life in all its abundance. In this quest, Love-as-action in its diverse forms (compassion, tenderness, grace, fairness, justice, care of kin and ecological responsibility)
    is the supreme expression of my life’s vocation.
  3. EPI-LOGUE: living the Creed
    I also believe that how we live is more important than what we believe.
    Living this way is pursuing the pathway to eco-justice which requires caring for Planet Earth and all its life-forms; and promoting social justice in the human community. As human beings we are the cosmic custodians of compassion.
    (First drafted 15/3/2010; Revised 3/2/2020)


Memorial Service for Noel Preston

A service of remembrance and thanksgiving for the life of Rev Dr Noel Preston will be held this Friday, October 30, at 1:30 pm at West End Uniting Church (Sussex St). The family regrets that, due to COVID restrictions, attendance is by invitation only.

Two venues will offer a public livestream but seats need to be reserved: West End UC hall (book here) and Trinity UC, Marlborough Rd, Wellington Point (book here). Or view the livestream at home on YouTube.

Thanks for the many condolences and comments posted at Replies on the previous post. These will eventually be forwarded to Olga.


VALE Noel Preston

Rev Dr Noel Preston AM – retired UCA minister, friend and activist in the progressive movement, ethicist, author, educator, academic, eco-theologian and social justice advocate – passed away peacefully at home early this morning with family around him, after a long illness, aged 78.

Our thoughts are with his wife Olga Harris, sisters Adele, Pam and Elizabeth, and children Lisa, Kim and Christopher and the extended family as well as his many friends.


Eugene Peterson – a tribute

Don Whebell

Eugene Peterson wrote over 30 books. My library includes Peterson’s Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and The Praying Imaginationa Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society The Message Bible: The Bible in Contemporary Language, and The Daily Message.

Books especially for Ministers:  Working the Angles, Five Smooth Stones, Under the Unpredictable Plant, The Unnecessary Pastor, Run with The Horses. 

I often turn to these books for timely inspiration. Peterson’s lectures and courses are still available for download from Regent College Book Store.

Eugene Peterson’s most remembered Christian contribution will be The Message Bible. The Message Bible is not a direct translation or paraphrase, it was written in the words of Peterson: “for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat.’”

For me, Eugene Peterson’s contribution to Christianity is on par with C.S. Lewis and JB Phillips’ paraphrase of the Bible. Peterson’s interpretation of Galatians 3:1-5 puts his style, legacy, and passion for Christ in clear unvarnished prose. Here it is:

“You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you?

Have you taken leave of your senses?

Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives.

His sacrifice on the Cross was certainly set before you clearly enough. Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin?

people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing?

It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?”

Eugene Peterson died on 22nd October 2018.   Among his final words were, ‘Let’s go.’ And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently. In such moments it’s best for all mortal flesh to keep silence. But if you have to say something say this: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’

Rev Don Whebell is a former Moderator, Queensland Synod, UCA.