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Robin Meyers captures essence of progressive thinking

Common Dreams on the Road

Rev Dr Robin Meyers, on his first visit to Australia, has been captivating large audiences in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and last night at Merthyr Uniting Church, New Farm, Brisbane. The last opportunity to experience this brilliant scholar, theologian, Oklahoma University professor of philosophy and pastor to the liberal progressive congregation at Mayflower Church in Oklahoma, will be at Caloundra Uniting Church on the Sunshine Coast tomorrow (26/5/16) at 9.30am and 1.30pm.

You can still register a place by emailing John Everall.

$15 per session or $25 for both sessions paid at the door. BYO Lunch.

Session 1: How quantum physics is redefining “Almighty”.

Session 2: Undone – faith as resistance to empire.

Just to wet your appetite we have included here some youtube clips of the Australian Tour:

Saving Jesus from the Church


The Underground Church


God Talk – reuniting science and religion


Things are not the same in Joppa these days



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SoFiA – Muslims in Australia

SoFiA lunch, AGM and Mini conference – South Brisbane

The Annual General Meeting of Sea of Faith in  Australia  will be held at South Brisbane at 2.00 pm on Saturday 25 June 2016. As it is 18 years since SoFiA was founded, we can say we have reached our majority. To recognise this, the AGM will be preceded by a celebratory lunch and two typical SoFiA sessions – a presentation by an outstanding speaker, and a more informal workshop. It will be a mini conference on the important current issue: Islam in Australia.

Venue: Verandah Room, Fox Hotel, South Brisbane,Saturday 25 June 2016

Full details at: http://www.sof-in-australia.org/conferences.php

The guest speaker, Faiza El Higzi, was born in the Sudan and trained as an architect. She has held a number of senior positions and is currently the Manager of the Romero Centre in Dutton Park, an agency of Mercy FaizaCommunity Services. Newly graduated, married and pregnant, she had to flee her native country and finally settled in Australia. Here, she has worked in a number of roles, including as senior policy advisor on multicultural issues. She has also become involved in a wide range of cultural areas, including health, cinema, sport and fashion. The brief she has accepted for this presentation –Islam in Australia in the 21st Century – is to consider some of the scenarios that may arise in the coming decades in response to religious and political movements and events throughout the world. You can hear her 2012 ABC interview with Richard Fidler here: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/08/07/3562519.htm



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How to register for the Fourth Common Dreams Conference – Brisbane

CD4 TagGo to CD4 Registrations

The theme of the conference is “Progressive Spirituality: New Directions” and the program will take participants through a broad spectrum of topics exploring what it means to be “spiritual” in contemporary times.  Eco-theological aspects of spirituality, indigenous spirituality, and aspects of Muslim and Jewish spirituality will also be examined.

Eminent international writers, researchers and scholars Dr Diana Butler Bass and Professor Pamela Eisenbaum and well known Australian theologian Dr Val Webb will deliver major public addresses and they will also participate in other parts of the program. Rev Dr David Felten, Co-founder of Living the Questions and an acclaimed speaker at the third Common Dreams Conference in 2013, will also feature as will Fred Plumer of ProgressiveChristianity.org and Adrian Alker of the Progressive Christian Network (Britain).

A strong team of Australian and New Zealand speakers will present keynote addresses, lectures and workshops.  These include Michael Morwood, Graeme Mundine, Lorraine Parkinson, Margaret Mayman, Jana Norman, Saara Sabbagh and Ian Lawton.

During part of the conference there will be a parallel program designed, presented and led by “young” people exclusively for their contemporaries.


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Seminars by Robin Meyers at Caloundra

UCA LOGOExplorers Group    The Caloundra Explorers Group  and Common Dreams on the Road,


Rev Dr Robin Meyers

Caloundra Uniting Church,  56 Queen St, Caloundra

9.30am  Thursday  26th May 2016

Rev Robin Meyers, PhD – Author of “Saving Jesus from the Church” Robin Meyers is a best-selling author and a highly regarded speaker. He is the senior minister at the Mayflower Congregational (United Church of Christ) in Oklahoma and Professor of Social Justice at Oklahoma City University and a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar.Robin Meyers

  • 9:30 am::     Re-uniting Science and ReligionGod-Talk : How Quantum Physics is Redefining “Almighty

‘In this lecture, especially geared towards those who yearn for science and religion to be reunited in the quest for meaning, Dr. Meyers explores the impact of recent scientific discoveries about the nature of the universe on our understanding of God.  Instead of our traditional view of a clockwork universe, where the Whole is merely the sum of its parts, quantum physics ( and especially something called quantum entanglement) has challenged long-held views on our relationship to the material world, even as it has validated the essential and timeless message of religious mystics.’

12.15pm.   Enjoy discussion and your byo Picnic Lunch in Church Grounds-tea/coffee supplied. Take the opportunity to meet open-minded friendly people in a safe place.

  • 1:30 pm: Undone – faith as resistance to Empire – What Kind of Church would You find Irresistible: The (Christian?) Imperative for socio/political engagement.

This Seminar is hosted by Caloundra Uniting Church Social Justice Group and is for all      who are  interested in social justice within our community .

Quote Dr. Meyers“ It is a myth that the gospel of Jesus Christ can ever be personally redemptive without being socially responsible. If there is one distinction that is crucial for the future of the church it is this : charity and justice are not the same thing”.

Cost: $15 per session;       Pay only $25 for the 2 sessions;

Phone bookings and enquiries: Margaret Landbeck  Ph. 0402 851 422

Please Book Your Seat by Email jjeverall@bigpond.com    Tickets at Door.


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Common Dreams 4 – program details


The website for Common Dreams now has the international conference program outline available for perusal. Shortly Eventbrite bookings will be open and there are significant benefits for early bird bookings. The conference runs from 16th to 19th September at Somerville House College, South Brisbane, near Lady Cilento Hospital.

More information about the speakers, topics, workshops and all of the program details will be posted soon on the CD site. A special parallel program for youthful participants is being offered with access to all keynote presentations for all people. We will keep you informed.

Thank you to the 37 volunteers (so far) who have offered their services to make this a great event. If you would like to be part of this team please drop me an email – Paul

Our Queensland local planning team has been on the job for two years and are very excited about what we have to offer. We look forward to welcoming visitors from all states and many from overseas. Included in the visitors will be a group of students from USA.

Hope to see you there ……


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Q&A – Christianity in Australia – Monday 25th April – ABC TV

Don’t miss Q&A next week or catch it later in iview. Just type in Q&A in the ‘Find a program’ box.

This link will take you directly to information about panelists on next Monday’s Q&A session at  9.36pm – Q&A Monday 25th April

Tony Jones with panelists:

Professor John Haldane – Distinguished Visiting Professor in Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame Australia, is one of the world’s foremost thinkers and a significant public intellectual within the Catholic tradition.

Journalist Julie McCrossin – An Elder and Church Council Member of the South Sydney Uniting Church in Redfern in Sydney. After 20 years as a broadcaster with ABC Radio National, ABC TV and Network Ten, she is now a freelance journalist and facilitator. She presented the radio show Life Matters on ABC Radio National for 5 years

Indigenous Anglican Pastor Ray Minniecon – A descendant of the Kabi Kabi nation and the Gurang Gurang nation of South-East Queensland. Ray is also a descendant of the South Sea Islander people with connections to the people of Ambrym Island. Ray’s most recent career engagement was with the Anglican Diocese of Sydney as a Pastor and Director of Crossroads Aboriginal Ministries.

Rev. Tiffany Sparks –  Tiffany was ordained in 2011 and appointed as priest in charge of St Paul’s Ashgrove. As one of the youngest female priests in Brisbane, Tiffany has continued on with her passion with social justice issues. Tiffany considers herself contemporary and egalitarian in her beliefs and ministry, while her liturgical style is traditional Anglo-Catholic.

Managing Dir. of the Australian Christian Lobby Lyle Shelton – In 1997 he became youth pastor at Toowoomba City Church before being elected to Toowoomba City Council in 2000. He was re-elected in 2004 and stood as a candidate in the 2006 Queensland State election. After a short stint as a political adviser to Queensland Senators Ron Boswell and Barnaby Joyce, Lyle was appointed national chief of staff at the Australian Christian Lobby in 2007. He was appointed managing director in May 2013.

More extensive bios are available at  Q&A Monday 25th April.

You can also participate in this session in a number of ways –

And later, tell us what you think! Email to Paul



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Peter Catt on Compass tomorrow

Just to let you know that Rev Dr Peter Catt, President of APCV, will be interviewed in the ABC TV Compass program at 6:30pm on Sunday, 10 April.

The program is about the churches offering sanctuary to those seeking refugee status. Peter is involved in that program as Dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, as Convenor of the National Churches group monitoring refugee policy and conditions and as President of APCV (A Progressive Christian Voice).

Peter Catt is Dean of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane.


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Next Caloundra Progressive Service

This is a highly enthusiastic reminder that the next Caloundra Uniting Church Explorers ‘Alternative’ Evening Service is on 5pm Sunday 17th April (Sunday next!).

The great news is the Rev. Dr. Rob Bos will be the Guest Speaker  and Leader for this service:  Please make a note in your diary for 5-7pm Sunday 17th April.

The theme is “ ’Aboriginal Spirituality’  within a progressive Christianity conversation”.

A very special service of great interest to a wide section of the congregation and general community . All welcomed! BYO light finger food for meal and discussion within the service. John Ph. 5492.4229; Anne Ph. 5492 6761.

Rob Bos has had very long, and current, involvement with aboriginal communities in the Western desert APY Lands and Northern Australia, and his writing activities make him a fascinating speaker. I have given him the challenge of speaking and leading a ‘progressive’ service.

Educator, Writer, Editor,  Rob was formerly Principal of Coolamon College and Nungalinya College, as well working with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. He has had congregational appointments in Grace Christian Community, Aurukun and Weipa. He is the co-editor, with Geoff Thompson, of Theology for Pilgrims: Selected documents of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Rob holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts (University of Queensland), Bachelor of Divinity (Melbourne College of Divinity), Doctor of Ministry (McCormick Seminary, Chicago), Doctor of Philosophy (University of Queensland), Master of Distance Education (University of South Australia)

Rob is also a co-secretary of the Caloundra Church Council now that he is spending more time in Caloundra.

So, expect a fascinating service which has discussion within it.  Aboriginal spirituality, traditional Christian spirituality ‘overlaid’ throughout the last century, and now discussed within a modern and for many, a progressive spirituality, setting.



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What is Progressive Christianity?

Progressive Christianity’s most powerful “evangelism” tools are our willingness to empty ourselves of prideful claims to the ultimate truth, and our efforts to serve the common good of humanity.   Jim Burklo, What is Progressive Christianity?

Amongst the many definitions of Progressive Christianity is that of Jim Burklo author of Open Christianity: home by another road (available from Amazon), He offers 11 characteristics which he describes as ‘a work in progress’:

  1. Progressive Christians keep the faith and drop the dogma.
  2. For us, God is Love, not a Guy in the Sky.
  3. [If] God and Nature are one, science is a way to learn about God.
  4. Faith is about deeds, not creeds.
  5. We take the Bible seriously because we don’t have to take it literally.
  6. Spiritual questions are more important to us than religious answers.
  7. The morality of what happens in war-room and the board-room matters more to us than what happens in the bedroom.
  8. Other religions can be as good for others as our religion is good for us.                                         
  9. Our church parking is for cars, not brains.
  10. God is bigger than our ideas about God  
  11. God evolves, and so does our religion.

But there are other descriptors –

Progressive Christianity.Org  is a global network that offers thoughtful and practical resources for individuals, families and communities to explore and affect progressive Chrisitianity, spirituality, community life, social and environmental justice.

1.  Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;

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

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

conventional Christians and questioning skeptics, believers and agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities, those of all classes and abilities;

4.  Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;

5.  Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;

6.  Strive for peace and justice among all people;

7.  Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;

8.  Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.

These 8 Points were the focus in their latest progressive Christian Children’s Curriculum: A Joyful Path Curriculum, for ages 6-10.


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Still more high interest seminars coming

Following the spectacular response to Val Webb’s seminars (approximately 400 seats occupied in total), we now look forward to Robin Meyers coming to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast in May.

As we prepare for the Common Dreams International Conference in September in Brisbane, these outstanding speakers are wetting our appetites for what is shaping up to be a feast of brilliant scholars and writers……an opportunity to explore future expressions of faith and spirituality, eco-­theology and inter-­faith issues (including indigenous connections)
with a program of distinguished international speakers and eminent Australian and New Zealand experts. More about that soon …… but for now:

Robin Meyers


  • Minister, United Church of Christ, USA
  • Professor of Social Justice, Oklahoma
  • Fellow of the Jesus Seminar
  • Author of 7 books including Saving Jesus from the Church

at Merthyr Road Uniting Church, 52 Merthyr Rd, New Farm:

Tuesday 24th May, 7 pm: From Galilean Sage to Supernatural Saviour:  The Heresy of Orthodoxy

Cost: $20 per head – payable at the door

Tea/coffee available 6:30 – 6:50

Bookings are not necessary for this opportunity to hear Rev Dr Robin Meyers speak. However, your rsvp with your intention to attend will be helpful for setting up sufficient chairs. drgarn@bigpond.net.au or 0409 498 403

and then twice at Caloundra Uniting Church, 56C Queen St, Caloundra

Thursday 26th May

  • 9:30 am: God-Talk : How Quantum Physics is Redefining “Almighty”: Re-uniting Science and Religion. (Hosted by Caloundra Explorers and open to all)
  • 1:30 pm: Undone – faith as resistance to Empire – What Kind of Church would You find Irresistible: The (Christian?) Imperative for socio/political engagement. (Hosted by Caloundra UC Social Justice Group and open to all)

Cost: $15 per session; $25 for 2 sessions

Bookings and enquiries: jjeverall@bigpond.com

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‘Made on Earth’ by Lorraine Parkinson – now available

The latest from Dr Lorraine Parkinson.

For Australians and New Zealanders it is free of postage for $35 from Spectrum Publications.  The web site is www.spectrumpublications.com.au

Why have millions of Christians across two millennia been convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the divinely anointed Christ?  Lorraine Parkinson sets out compelling reasons why the gospels may be found to have been ‘made on earth’. She builds a strong argument that each gospel was written to make a distinct case for Jesus as the Christ. She presents detailed evidence that the Christ of the gMade on Earth 1ospels is the creation of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, plus later editors. The sub-text of this book contends that by including teachings of Jesus alongside claims for him as Christ, gospel writers bequeathed to Christianity two contradictory gospels – the gospel of Jesus and the gospel about Jesus. There is both detailed and courageous biblical scholarship in Made on Earth.

Rev Rex A E Hunt, Founding Director, The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra. Immediate Past Chair, Common Dreams Conference of Religious Progressives, Australia/New Zealand : At last! A book that helps its readers to see and understand how the Way of Jesus with its emphasis on this world, was wrong-footed into fixation on “the Christ” and the next world. There is no bigger challenge to Christianity today than to rid itself of this fixation and from creedal adherence to the worldview that shaped it. In this book Lorraine Parkinson provides us with the perfect follow-up to her previous work, The World According to Jesus: his blueprint for the best possible world.


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Could you be a Common Dreams Conference Volunteer?

An invitation to progressive thinking peopleCDImage

With the fourth international Common Dreams Conference in Brisbane in September this year, we are now inviting people from Progressive Groups in SE Queensland to offer themselves as volunteers. Volunteers will be particularly important to the smooth running of the conference at Somerville House College, South Brisbane and we also need some assistance for our action teams that are now working on components of the action plan.

A vibrant committee has spent two years planning the conference and assisting Common Dreams Incorporated with the mounting of CD4. Now we have Teams responsible for:

  • Transport and Hospitality
  • IT Coordination
  • Registration management
  • Speaker Support and Stage Direction
  • Venue Management including Music Activity
  • Local Marketing and the ‘Brisbane Experience’
  • Coordination of Volunteers
  • Other emerging tasks.

We can use your interest and enthusiasm for the developing stream of progressive spirituality.

Contact: Paul Inglis  or  John Everall


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Dr Val Webb’s seminars attracting lot of interest

Val WebAs expected the “Testing Tradition and Liberating Theology” and “Practicing Theological Hospitality” seminars have drawn a significant number of registrations. It is not too late to register. Just scroll down for all the details of Val Webb’s presentations at New Farm Uniting Church on 5th March. We need to know numbers for catering and space. Look forward to a great day!

Enquiries: Desley Garnett


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Progressive Christians offering sanctuary to refugees

More than ten Australian Churches across Australia are offering sanctuary to refugees who may be transferred to detention on Nauru. Now 10 Anglican and Uniting churches around the country have offered sanctuary to the asylum seekers who are at risk of being returned.

The Churches, all with strong progressive values, are invoking the historical concept of sanctuary, opening their doors to asylum seekers facing removal back to offshore detention centres.

Key points:

  • ‘Sanctuary’ concept yet to be tested under Australian law
  • High Court rejects challenge to the legality of Australia’s offshore detention centres
  • 270 asylum seekers in fear of being returned to Manus Island or Nauru

The High Court has rejected a challenge to the legality of Australia’s offshore detention centres, a ruling that means nearly 270 asylum seekers who came to Australia for medical treatment could be returned to either Nauru or Manus Island.

One of Australia’s senior Anglican leaders, Rev Dr Peter Catt, said places of worship were entitled to offer sanctuary to those seeking refuge from brutal and oppressive forces.

Peter Catt is Dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane. From 1997 to 2007 Peter was the Dean of Grafton. He helped establish and run the International Philosophy, Science and Theology Festival, which wPeter Cattas held at Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton. He holds a PhD in evolutionary microbiology from the University of NSW and a BD from the Melbourne College of Divinity.

His interests include Christian Formation, liturgical innovation, the interaction between science and religion, and Narrative Theology . He is a member of a number of environmental and Human Rights organisations and has serves on Anglican Social Justice Committees at both Diocesan and National level. He is the current chair of The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s new report reveals what Ms Narayanasamy describes as the “alarming impacts of detention on children”.

The report is based on interviews and medical testing of children at Wickham Point detention facility, many of whom spent time on Nauru.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is under increased pressure to allow asylum seekers to remain in Australia following claims the overwhelming majority of former child detainees are at risk of serious mental health issues.

Labor MP Melissa Parke has lashed out at her party for supporting the Federal Government’s “utterly repugnant” offshore processing regime following a High Court ruling upholding the policy of detaining asylum seekers on Nauru.

A woman who was held in detention on Nauru before giving birth to a son in Darwin last year after complications during the pregnancy has described today’s High Court decision as a nightmare.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton said the government would not be “dragging people out of churches” but insisted that the people’s cases would be individually considered on medical advice.

As well as St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane other churches and affiliated chapels offering sanctuary were:

  • St Cuthbert’s Anglican church, Darlington, Western Australia
  • Wesley Uniting church, Perth
  • Gosford Anglican church, Sydney
  • Pilgrim Uniting church, Adelaide
  • St John’s Uniting church, Essendon
  • Paddington Anglican church, Sydney
  • Pitt Street Uniting church, Sydney
  • Wayside Chapel, Sydney

Acknowledgement: Material taken from several ABC News bulletins and The Guardian News.