Category Archives: Resources

A conversation about a progressive communion event

One of our subscribers, Karel Reus, is on a quest for progressive expressions in liturgy. Recently he has put together an introduction to the The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (see “Approaching the Eucharist” below), and is wondering if a conversation is possible between like-minded progressive liturgists.

Please make suggestions, offer ideas, ask questions or give a personal opinion. We do have the work of Rex Hunt, see When Progressives Gather Together (2016) or William L. Wallace’s Sacred Mass, the Salt of the Earth Liturgy from St Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC, the thoughts of T.Mark Dove in his Communion Invitation, or that including children by Ana Gobbledale, but your thoughts are as valuable as any, so please help Karel (and others) in his quest.

Approaching the Eucharist by Karel Reus

Pay attention, my friends!

Come with me!

We enter a darkened room –

just oil and candle light

and shadows.

A dozen or so homeless itinerant men

in a rented or borrowed apartment.

They sit on the floor –

cross-legged on threadbare rugs –

and the odd cushion.

The seder meal is laid out before them,

matzos, bitter herbs, taking pride of place,

and bread, no doubt,

and wine, for sure –

laid out by the women;

the invisible women out in the kitchen

sharing secret women’s business,

while the blokes share stories and yarns

about their travels,

and events along the way -88

and they also share the bitter herbs

of Passover – remembering –

while together they intone:

She-ma yisrael, adonai eloheinu, adonai echad.

Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One

Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day.

Impress them upon your children.

Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.

Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Take note!

Their teacher, their rabbi, leans in.

There is something on his mind:

you can see it written on his face –

then with right hand only he deftly tears the bread

and lifts the piece.

We have it on good authority, by way of St Paul:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The bread is broken and lifted up

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’

The rabbi leans in again –

this time to raise a cup –

no chalice this, but common-or-garden kitchenware,

infused by his words:

The cup is raised

In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’

and Paul sums it up for all the ages:

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

No record is kept.

No one takes notes.

No motions are moved,

but they know that the earth has moved;

that the rabbi has set something in motion of immense importance,

and we watch and obey and remember.

The atmosphere has changed

as the contest of life with death plays out before them

and a tangible sense of betrayal

hangs in the air.

Rabbi Yeshua feels the walls closing in – tomblike;

he longs for fresh air and he suggests a walk in the garden….

With the benefit of hindsight, we know he will not return – in the flesh, that is.

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The Updated 8 Points of Progressive Christianity

Note: Progressive Christianity is inherently always evolving and progressing. Please take these lightly but seriously. They are not dogma, they are simply a starting point to establish conversations and a foundation of values and beliefs that we have observed Progressive Christians generally share. It’s ok if you don’t agree with all the words or all the parts. We support your authentic path. You can use these in your faith communities and with family and friends to talk about what it means to you to be a Progressive Christian in today’s world. Here is to always progressing!

[from ProgressiveChristianity.com 2020, co-created with Progressive Christian pastors, theologians, scholars and visionaries]

By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who…

1. Believe that following the path of the teacher Jesus can lead to healing and wholeness, a mystical connection to “God,” as well as an awareness and experience of not only the Sacred, but the Oneness and Unity of all life;

2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience “God,” the Sacredness, Oneness and Unity of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom, including Earth, in our spiritual journey;

3. Seek and create community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:

Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
Believers and agnostics,
Those of all races, cultures, and nationalities
Those of all sexual orientations and all gender identities,
Those of all classes and abilities,
Those historically marginalized,
All creatures and plant life;

4. Know that the way we behave towards one another and Earth is the fullest expression of what we believe, therefore we vow to walk as Jesus might have walked in this world with radical compassion, inclusion, and bravery to confront and positively change the injustices we experience as well as those we see others experiencing;

5. Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning with an open mind and open heart, than in absolutes or dogma;

6. Work toward peace and justice among all people and all life on Earth;

7. Protect and restore the integrity of our Earth and all of Creation;

8. Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love on this journey toward a personally authentic and meaningful faith.

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Kairos for Creation

Kairos for Creation – Confessing Hope for the Earth
The Wuppertal Call


If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their
sin and heal their land
” – 2 Chron. 7:14.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is
here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us
the ministry of reconciliation
” – 2 Cor. 5:17-18
Preamble
From 16 to 19 June 2019, 52 participants from 22 countries and from different confessional and faith traditions gathered in Wuppertal, Germany for a conference entitled “Together towards eco-theologies, ethics of sustainability and eco-friendly churches”.

In Wuppertal we were reminded of the courageous confession of faith articulated in the Barmen Declaration (1934) against the totalitarian, inhuman and racist ideology of the time. Barmen continues to encourage us today for “a joyful liberation from the godless ties of this world for free grateful service to his creatures” (Barmen 2).
We shared stories from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and Oceania. We heard the cries of the earth, the cries of people vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially children and the elderly, the cries of youth demanding intergenerational justice and the concerns of experts over current trends.
We recognize the urgency of the years that lie ahead, nevertheless express the courage to hope and are compelled to call the global ecumenical movement towards a comprehensive ecological transformation of society.

Kairos: A decisive turn in the pilgrimage of justice and peace
The ecumenical movement has long committed itself to a pilgrimage towards justice, peace and the integrity of creation. These goals will require urgent steps on the road ahead. The urgency of the crisis calls us to read the signs of the time, to hear God’s call, to follow the way of Christ, to discern the movement of the Spirit and, in response, to recognize the positive initiatives of churches all around the world.
The symptoms of the crisis touch on all the building blocks of life and are there for all to see:
• Fresh water is contaminated; glaciers are melting; oceans are polluted with plastics and are becoming acidic so that corals reefs are bleached (water).
• Land is degraded through unsustainable agriculture and unhealthy eating habits, extractive economies ruled by global financial powers, deforestation, desertification and soil erosion;
animals are groaning and creatures are being genetically modified; fish populations are
depleted; habitat loss leads to the unprecedented loss of biodiversity (earth). Both the land and the health of people are being poisoned by industrial, agricultural, municipal and nuclear forms of waste and by pesticides and chemicals. An increasing number of people is forced to migrate and to become climate refugees.
• Global carbon emissions are still increasing, greenhouse gases are accumulating in the
atmosphere and climates are disrupted (air).
• It is the still increasing use of energy from fossil fuels that is driving such changes (fire). The delicate systems of balances in creation has been disturbed to an unprecedented extent in the Anthropocene. We have transgressed planetary boundaries. The earth seems no longer able to heal itself. Creatures are groaning in travail (Rom. 8:22).

For the full statement go to: Kairos for Creation

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Centre for Radical Christianity

CRCOnline

CRCOnline provides theological, liturgical and spiritual resources for anyone who wants to live with the questions rather than being told definitive answers; be rooted in the life, work and radical values of Jesus of Nazareth; celebrate the diversity of the Jesus community and engage with issues using the discourses of the contemporary world.

Explore the latest resources below and browse/search all resources using the menus. Find the resources that suit you: from prayers and spiritual reflections to in-depth theological articles, sermons to book reviews, media links to liturgies.

CRC was established in 2003 and based at St Mark’s Church Broomhill, Sheffield, UK. Its purpose was to explore the meaning of the Christian faith in the 21st century and to offer a fresh vision of an open and inclusive church, unafraid to ask the big questions.

St Mark’s CRC was committed to:

  • living with questions rather than finding answers
  • being rooted in Jesus of Nazareth
  • including and celebrating diversity in the community of Christ
  • engaging with issues using the discourses of the contemporary world.

CRCOnline promises to carry on exploring, commending and understanding the Christian faith and living in this spirit, engaging in critical yet creative dialogue between a living tradition reaching back to Jesus and the challenges and opportunities of our contemporary world, with the aim of helping people understand more what being followers of Jesus means today.

Go to: CRCOnline to examine the Resources around – Mysticism and Contemporary Spirituality, Embracing the Other (Jesus inclusivity), Eucharistic Prayers, Easter and Epidemics, Heaven is a Hologram, Prayers in time of Pandemic, etc.

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“The Trail” – A song for difficult times

The Trail is a song of comfort for difficult times.
It gives new words to a familiar hymn and provides a modern, progressive interpretation of the 23rd psalm.

Words and musical arrangement by Keith Sanford. Performance includes Keith Sanford on drums, percussion, keyboard synthesizers, and vocals.

The tune is Resignation (the tune for, My Shepherd Will Supply My Need), an anonymous melody found in Freeman Lewis’ Beauties of Harmony, 1828.

My feet they tamp the earth and stones that lay upon this trail
And in wide meadows there I find a hope that will not fail
I feel a touch upon my hand that pulls me to proceed
To see the splendor, oh, so vast, there’s nothing more I need

To mountain streams, this trail does lead, with water splashing clear
And there I rest upon the rocks and feel the goodness here
I feel a touch upon my hand that pulls me to engage
To seek the mysteries of the world, long pondered age to age

At times this trail may lead me down to valleys dark and low
Where shades of death may chill the skin and nothing there will grow
But then that touch upon my hand it causes me to rise
And still I hope for goodness here, as stars light up dark skies

For more information and music lead sheet go to The Trail

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Inclusive Spiritual Christian Curriculum

Several progressive congregations are now using A Joyful Path which is a truly progressive children’s curriculum. Today, children are seriously undernourished when it comes to spirituality. They are either taught dogma or secularism. Children need to know that they are Divine beings and that following the path of Jesus in today’s world means being a spiritual warrior of radical inclusion and deep reverence. 

The program has been written by Deshna Shine for ProgressiveChristianity.org. You can help spread this curriculum to children all around the world by supporting a GOFUNDME project that Deshna has started.

For information go to: Joyful Path

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Inclusive Catholics: Resourcing Progressive Ministry and Worship No.13

A welcoming and inclusive community of committed Christians, based in Victoria, true to their faith, who have become disillusioned with the institutional Catholic Church and other churches.

Go to: Inclusive Catholics

“Given the clericalism, abuse, discrimination and lack of proper governance within the Catholic Church, in 2011 Fr Greg Reynolds, a priest of the Melbourne Archdiocese for 31 years, set up a new community, called Inclusive Catholics to embrace those disillusioned with institutional churches. In this community all are welcome without question, especially lapsed Catholics as well as survivors of clerical abuse, divorcees, those who support women’s ordination and LGBTIQA+ people.

This community strives to let all voices be heard and equally considered when planning and celebrating worship and other events. It is now a democratic organisation led by an elected Stewardship Team with Greg Reynolds as pastor. Inclusive Catholics holds fortnightly Eucharistic celebrations at Glen Iris Road Uniting Church Community Centre, monthly lecture-discussions in member’s homes, social dinners, silent retreats and luncheon gatherings where personal stories can be shared.”

Social Justice

“We are all deeply committed to Gospel values and caring for the needs of the poor and vulnerable in our society and the world. We each respond to the call in our own personal way, as we accept and support each other’s approach, gifts and priorities. Above all, our hearts and prayers go out to those who suffer abuse, injustice and oppression. We are a diverse range of personalities, with a wide range of social justice priorities. Early on we decided not to set up our own separate social justice group, but rather to support individual members in the various organisations and activities that they are involved in. For example members are involved in or connected with groups such as IPAN (the Independent & Peaceful Australia Network), Pax Christi, WATAC (Women and The Australian Church), St Mary’s in Exile, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Acceptance, BASP (Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project), Love Makes a Way, ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change), Catholics for Renewal, ACCCR (Australian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform), Quakers, and various Christian Churches especially Glen Iris Road Uniting Church and St Oswald’s Anglican Church. “

Eucharist

This is an open table and any believer who wishes to receive Holy Communion is welcome. Eucharist is celebrated on the first and third Sundays of each month at Glen Iris Road Uniting Church, 200 Glen Iris Road, Glen Iris at 5.00 pm, preceded by optional quiet meditation at 4.40pm

1ST & 3RD SUNDAYS OF EACH MONTH, 5PM
GLEN IRIS UNITING CHURCH

Contact details – About us

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New from Morning Star Publishers

The Unexpected Light is a book which seeks to inspire through the experience of science, history, and art, rather than theological rhetoric – reaching out to people not necessarily committed to the Christian faith but perhaps interested in it.

The aim is to show how mercy is not just a doctrine, not just a teaching – although these are important things – but rather, a force integral to the future of human life on earth. Peter Fleming examines science, history, art – unified in faith. In a world which is imperfect by its very nature, mercy is a logical response to its people and to human behaviour.

Reflections from a Year of Mercy

By: Peter Fleming

Pages: 160
Publisher:Morning Star Publishing
Dimensions:148mm x 210mm
ISBN: 9780648118664

$20.95 – Purchase details

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A Progressive Sunday School Curriculum

A Joyful Path, Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds

Uniting Church Dayboro uses “A Joyful Path” for the children’s curriculum. It is a curriculum for children in today’s world. We use it to create Christian practice and teaching that builds in the children a greater concern for the way people treat each other than simply what, if, & how a person believes. The curriculum affirms the variety & depth of human experience. The Joyful Path is first and foremost about teaching and practicing Christian spirituality rather than any exclusive dogma. It seeks to create a foundation of fair, open, peaceful & loving treatment for all human beings. Its primary lesson is to help children discover and relate to the Divine in themselves and each other. Many of the lessons focus on ways that we can practice the same compassion with all as Jesus spoke and demonstrated so often. The Joyful path is just that, & not a mere retelling of the old Bible stories. In the words of Bishop John Shelby Spong “(it) does not equate faith with having a pre-modern mind”. The curriculum provides a Sunday space that you can invite the children of your unchurched friends & family without fear or embarrassment.

Now in our 3rd year of using this curriculum, we have been very pleased with the response of kids, parents, congregation and church council.

Some of the Authors and Teachers drawn upon in writing this curriculum:
Eckhart Tolle
Houston Smith
Rumi
Paul Knitter
Thomas Berry
Paul Tillich
Jack Cornfield
Meister Eckhart
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox
Bishop Jack Spong
Marcus Borg
Rabbi Zalman
Val Webb
Sallie Mcfague
AND MORE!

38 lessons each year focus on:

  • suggestions for personal and group reflection (the instructor, the students and the students in community with one another);
  • resources to expand awareness to other cultures, religions and ways of knowing;
  • practices to invite spiritual discovery, awareness and application;
  • embodied activities for direct encounters and experience;
  • brainstorms for further action and engagement with the community;
  • rituals for celebrating the gifts Earth provides in each of the 4 seasons; and
  • ceremonies to explore gratitude, engagement/being in the struggling, peace-making, and forgiveness

For more details and how to purchase: Go to A Joyful Path

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What is the status, role and authority of the Basis of Union in the Uniting Church today?

Rev Don Whebell. [Don is one of the few people still living that were actively involved in the process of coming into Union that formed the Uniting Church from three previous denominations. As well as a minister, he was a Queensland Synod Moderator and taught the subject ‘Basis of Union’ for many years at Trinity Theological College in the Queensland Synod].

“That question had been in front of me for some time for at least three reasons:

  1. There was a time when, as a Christian Education and Youth Worker, I had responsibility for a program of education for the participating denominations in North Queensland. Having been involved in studies in the first Basis [and disappointed at its rejection by the Presbyterian Church] my task was to try to help people to understand it in ways that would make sense to them in their journeys.

“I was frequently disappointed at what I saw to be the superficial responses a lot of people were making to the whole issue and a general unwillingness to grapple with the theological basis of what it means to be the Church.

“Most seemed to be just wanting some ‘ecclesiastical carpentry’ to glue the three denominations’ organisations together – or wanting a Church under another name that was vey similar to what they already had….

“2. In my roles as a Presbytery Minister and as Moderator, I was frequently confronted by the same sort of thing in the 80s and 90s that I had encountered in the 70s.

“Many people were often just not willing – or motivated – or able – to do the theological work, wanting a simple way of being the Church that made few demands on their thinking, believing and acting….

“Concerned that the Basis of Union was not being given its intended role, status and authority in the Uniting Church, the Council of Synod asked Duncan Harrison and I to write some studies on the Basis for people in Congregations, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Inauguration of the Uniting Church. And to encourage people to re-engage in a search through the Basis and rediscover the sources of their faith. It’s called A Hitchhiker’s Trip through the Basis of Union.

“3.The third area of my concern was aroused – say the least – when, at a Presbytery Ministers’ Conference a many years ago, The General Secretary of the Assembly announced that there was a growing problem with the place of the Basis in the UCA.

“He said something like:

“There is an emerging viewpoint among some that holds that The Basis of Union does not have the relevance for the Uniting Church that it had for the three denominations that were negotiating the Church Union proposals that led to the inauguration of the Uniting Church in 1977.”

“That is to say that The Basis of Union belongs to the pre-union denominations, and is no longer relevant to the Uniting Church. A historical archive, that served its purpose in the forming of the UCA, but of no real continuing significance.

“This is no new issue….”

Don’s work on re-appraising the Basis of Union is at last being made publicly available. He has kindly offered his work to the UCFORUM’s readers to reflect on.

You can follow this work at: The Basis of Union re-examined. This is a work in progress. The first six sessions are available and many more are to follow. So come back to this site when you can.

Don welcomes ideas and opinions and although he is battling some serious health issues you can email him at: Don Whebell.

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