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Progressive Christianity Australia

ARCHIVES - Common Dreams 3

The details of Common Dreams 3, held in Canberra in 2013, are presented below.

The Program

3rd COMMON DREAMS CONFERENCE

THIRD INTERNATIONAL GATHERING OF RELIGIOUS PROGRESSIVES

Manning Clark Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

19th – 22nd September 2013

Conference Theme:

Midwives of Change: Progressives Shaping Religious Communities

International Keynote Presenters:

Professor Marcus Borg (USA), Revd Bruce Sanguin (Canada), Revd David Felten (USA)

Special International Guests:

Revd Dr Alan Race, Sonya Brown

(Progressive Christianity Network, Britain)

PROGRAM

Thursday, 19th September 2013

Afternoon

3.30-5.00 pm Registration opens

2.00 – 4.30pm  SPECIAL: Pre-Conference Forum

"Offering an Alternative: Being Progressive Christians about Politics".  An introduction to the work of A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia), especially as it stands in contrast to The Australian Christian Lobby.

Presenters:

Dr Peter Catt:

1.  "The Theology of Political Engagement"

2.  "The Progressive Agenda, cf Conservatism"

Followed by Discussion and Afternoon Tea

Evening

6.00-7.00 pm Registration

7.00-7.30 pm Entertainment: Canberra Qwire

7.35 pm Welcome and Local Arrangements and Acknowledgement of Country (Rex Hunt)

7.45 pm Public Lecture: Professor Marcus Borg (USA) "Progressive Christianity and the Christian Future" (Moderator:  Richard Carter)

Friday, 20th September 2013

Morning

8.00 am Registration.

8.15-8.45 am Morning Meditation (Sande Ramage)

9.00 am Welcome to Conference and Official Opening and Acknowledgement of Country: Rex Hunt

9.15 am Keynote Address: Dr Val Webb (Aus.) "Midwives of Change" (Moderator:  Roger Munson)

10.15 am Morning Tea

11.00 am Keynote Address: Dr Lorraine Parkinson (Aus.) "Teachings the Church Forgot: Jesus' Blueprint for the Best Possible World" (Moderator: Linda Pure)

12.00 noon Evaluation process (five minutes) (Facilitator: Richard Carter)

Free Time: Informal Conversation around the Coffee Pot, Lunch, Networking, Book shop.

12.45-1.15pm

SPECIAL LUNCHTIME EVENT:  Launch of books  NewLife: rediscovering Faith (John W. Smith and Rex A Hunt (ed)) and Cards, Carols, and Clause:  Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity (Rex A Hunt) and the DVD Series Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith (Living the Questions) by Co-Founder, LtQ, David Felten)

Afternoon

1.30pm Breakout Groups.

A time for participants to engage in informal conversation on local and regional issues for religious progressives. Val Webb, Glynn Cardy, Nigel Leaves, Ann Evans, Steve Ogden, Lorraine Parkinson and some other Presenters and Workshop Leaders to be available to visit/resource these groups.

Group 1. (Facilitator: Jeremy Greaves).

Group 2. (Facilitator: Roger Munson).

Group 3. (Facilitator: Eric Stevenson).

Group 4. (Facilitator: Elizabeth Burns).

Group 5. (Facilitator: Ian Pearson).

2.45pm Afternoon Tea.

3.30-4.15pm Workshops A

1. "Memories, Conversations and Convictions", Prof. Marcus Borg (USA). (Also to be repeated 2.15pm Saturday) (Moderator: Peter Correy)

2. “Stop White Collar Crime. Changing the Political Religious Landscape”, Glynn Cardy (NZ) (Moderator: Ray Richmond)

3. “Beyond Navel Gazing: Progressive Religion and Global Citizenship”, Dr Noel Preston (Aus) (Moderator: Wes Hartley)

4. “Integral Evolutionary Christianity: Waking Up, Growing Up, Showing Up, and Acting Up”, Dr Rod Mitchell (NZ) (Moderator: John Everall)

5. “Midwives are ‘Hands On’: Progressive Communities and Engaging Politics”, Dr Margaret Mayman (NZ). (Moderator: Greg Jenks)

4.15-5.00pm Workshops B

1. “Core Agreement: Failing Bravely”. Bruce Sanguin (Canada) (Moderator: Wes Hartley)

2. “Hospital Chaplaincy Beyond Religious Control: A Compelling Pilgrimage’”, Sande Ramage (NZ) (Moderator: Desley Garnett)

3. “Re-shaping the ‘Healing Narratives’ in light of Progressive Theology”, John W Smith (Aus.) (Moderator: Ray Richmond)

4. “No Creche for Christmas, Mom”, Ann Evans (Canada) (Moderator: Linda Pure)

5. “Ain’t It Necessarily So? Progressive Religion and Theological Education”, Panel Discussion: Dr Val Webb, Dr Greg Jenks, Prof. Marcus Borg, Jen Burns (Moderator: Alan Race)

Free Time: Informal Conversation around the Coffee Pot, Evening Meal, Networking, Book Shop

Evening

7.00pm Entertainment. “The Cashews”

7.35pm Conference Information (Rex Hunt)

7.45pm Public Lecture 2: Professor Marcus Borg (USA) "The Heart of Christianity" (Moderator: Elizabeth Burns)

Saturday, 21st September 2013

Morning

8.00am Registration.

8.15-8.45am Morning Meditation (Sande Ramage)

9.00am Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country.

9.05am Keynote Address: Revd Dr Nigel Leaves (Aus.) “Who Do You Say That I Am?’ Preaching Jesus Today” (Moderator:  Rod Peppiatt)

10.00am Morning tea.

11.00-12.10pm Keynote Address: Dr Steven Ogden (Aus.) “Empowerment: Freedom, Power and the Church” (Moderator: Richard Smith)

Free Time: Informal conversation around the Coffee Pot, Lunch, Networking, Book Shop

Special Lunchtime Event:

12.45pm-1.15pm Revd Dr Alan Race (GtB). “’Honest to God’. The Makings and the Celebration of a Midwife of Change" (Moderator: Rex Hunt)

Afternoon

2.15pm Workshops C.

1. “Core Agreement: Facing Crisis with Hope (Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome)”, Revd Bruce Sanguin (Canada) (Moderator: Allan Leggett)

2. "Memories, Conversations and Convictions", Prof. Marcus Borg (USA) (Repeat) (Moderator:  Jason Davies-Kildea)

3. “Spiritual Vitality and Intellectual Integrity: Shaping Progressive Liturgy ‘Down Under’”, Rex Hunt (Aus) (Moderator: Merilyn Tandukar)

4. “A Minority Christian Church in a Muslim Community - Some Reflections”, Sonya Brown (UK) (Moderator: Jill Tabart)

3.15pm Afternoon tea.

3.45pm Keynote Address: Revd Glynn Cardy (NZ) “Praying When G-o-d is Not a Person: Non-Theistic Prayer” (Moderator:  Ian Pearson)

Free Time: Informal conversation around the Coffee Pot, Evening meal, Networking, Book Shop

Evening

7.00pm Entertainment - The Jazz Republic

7.40pm Public Lecture 3: Revd Bruce Sanguin (Canada). “Putting the ‘Progress’ Back in Progressive Christianity” (Moderator: Rex Hunt)

Sunday, 22nd September 2013

Morning

8.00am Registration.

8.15-8.45am Meditation (Revd Sande Ramage)

9.00am Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country.

9.05am Keynote Address: Rabbi Aviva Kipen (Aus.) “Sabotage at the Birthing Stool: Heroines and Heroes or Saboteurs of Change in Today's Diverse, Sacred Communities?" (Moderator: John Queriel)

10.00am Morning tea.

10.30am Presentations & Workshops D.

1. “Core Agreement: Holding Nothing Back: Surrendering to Grace”. Revd Bruce Sanguin (Canada) (Moderator:  John Bodycomb)

2. “Reclaiming the Bible for Religious Progressives: Performing Philemon”, Revd Dr Gregory Jenks (Aus.) (Moderator: Richard Carter)

3. "Environmental Ethics and Eco-theology", Dr Noel Preston (Aus.) (Moderator: Roger Munson).

4. “Midwives to the Midwives of Change”, Revd Dr Ian Mavor (Aus.) (Moderator: Terry Ayling)

5. “Who can be a Midwife for Positive Change?  The Answer is in the Beatitudes?” Revd Dr Lorraine Parkinson (Aus.) (Moderator: Cynthia Spurr)

11.40am Keynote Address: Dr Margaret Mayman (NZ). “Birthing with Blood, Sweat and Tears: Progressive Public Theology” (Moderator: Jeremy Greaves)

Free Time: Informal conversation around the Coffee Pot, Lunch, Networking, Book Shop

Afternoon

2.30pm Closing Presentation:

Revd David Felten (USA). “The Progressive Future is Now" (Moderator:  John W Smith)

3.45-4.15pm Farewell. (Revd Rex Hunt).

Informal conversation around the Coffee Pot.

ENTERTAINMENT, PRESENTATION & WORKSHOP EXTRACTS

ENTERTAINMENT

The Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire consists of approximately 80 members from all walks of life, ranging from late teens right through to the wiser generations; all drawn together by their common love of music and singing. We are a non-auditioned choir, meaning that people of varying skill levels and experience can come and develop their passion for singing and even learn a few new tips and tricks every week in rehearsal, including not only vocal abilities and strength but stagecraft and even some choreography, which we call Choralography.

As the Qwire celebrates its 20th birthday this year, it continues to grow in size, diversity and the quality of its performances. The Qwire is now highly regarded within the straight and queer community not only for its vocal strength and performances, but also for its relaxed and social atmosphere. The Qwire brings together people from diverse sections of the ACT queer community and their allies and supporters to challenge stereotypes, and more importantly, build a bridge between the queer community and the non-queer community of Canberra through music.

The Cashews are a Canberra duo who write and perform quirky songs with a strong local flavour - featuring landmarks like the Tuggeranong Parkway, and Black Mountain Tower. The Cashews appeal to a wide range of audiences and are well known for their “guerrilla gigs” - free, spontaneous, acoustic gigs in unusual public places (such as atop Mount Ainslie).

In 2013 The Cashews are taking Guerrilla Gigs to the suburbs through their innovative “Local Gold” project—where you pick the spot and we put on the show. For more about Local Gold, go to www.localgold.net.au and for more on The Cashews go to www.thecashews.com.

The Jazz Republic provides the entertainment on the Saturday night. The band has been active on Canberra's jazz scene for the last three years, playing at numerous local venues and private functions, and regularly appearing at Jazz festivals such as Merimbula and Moruya. Featuring the attractive and powerful vocals of Leanne Dempsey, they play a blend of classic jazz and cabaret standards, swinging instrumentals from the bebop era, relaxing bossas and ballads and some eclectic originals.

PUBLIC LECTURES

“Progressive Christianity and the Christian Future” (Marcus Borg) Progressive Christians are often better known for what we don't believe rather than for what we do affirm. This is understandable, for progressive Christianity is to a large extent a negation of the most common forms of Christianity. But what is its positive content? And how do we articulate it in a way that is persuasive and compelling?

“The Heart of Christianity” (Marcus Borg) The central Christian symbol is the cross of Jesus. But what does this mean and not mean? Is it about Jesus dying to pay for the sins of the world so that we can be forgiven? Or is it not about that at all but about something far more important?

“Putting the ‘progress’ back in Progressive Christianity” (Bruce Sanguin) This Public Lecture will present the case for evolutionary Christian theology and spirituality. "Progressive" has come to be associated ironically with a deep pessimism about the future and a laser-sharp focus on all that is wrong with self, culture, and social systems. What is the evidence-based hope for the world that is congruent with an evolutionary paradigm without denying the depths of the planetary crisis that faces us? We will explore the evolutionary impulse as a Christic impulse that can animate and enliven our yearning for, and enactment of, the Kin(g)dom of God.

PRESENTATIONS

“Praying when G-o-d is Not a Person: Non-Theistic Prayer” (Glynn Cardy) The spiritual mentors of old were always reticent to offer pilgrims a guidebook, indeed any certainties, for the path of prayer. The danger was that any guidebook would divert their eyes from the path and their hearts from seeking it. Traditional images of God, particularly when gripped with the certainty of conviction, can divert one’s eyes from the spiritual path. For many progressive pilgrims the traditional images have cracked and fallen away, and similarly the prayers associated with them. When we move past traditional Christian discourse that fuses images with reality, prayer language – any prayer language – becomes difficult, including the word G-o-d. Yet many progressive pilgrims still want to engage with the glimpses of transformative love that we might name as divine, opening our hearts and minds to the vast expanse of untamed and unknown wonder. Kindness, laughter, children, and animals all offer avenues for enlarging the spiritual heart; as does learning how to live with suffering, and how to shed the weight of those false idols of prosperity, power and popularity. This Presentation is an encouragement to re-think what prayer means, how we do it, and for what purpose.

“Who Do You Say That I Am? Preaching Jesus Today” (Nigel Leaves) Nigel Leaves has been an ordained minister in the Anglican Church for 27 years. He has been astounded by the lack of basic knowledge of parishioners who have not heard or been taught the latest academic insights about Jesus of Nazareth. Having worked in six different parishes in three different countries, a recurring theme emerges: “Why weren’t they told?” How can there be such a disconnection between the Academy and the Pew? What do people really believe about the one whom the Gospels proclaim as ‘the Christ?’ What should the Church be preaching about Jesus today? Leaves will explore these issues with reference to some of the challenges that are raised in Religion Under Attack, Why Weren’t We Told? and The Once and Future Scriptures.

“Birthing with Blood, Sweat and Tears: Progressive Public Theology” (Margaret Mayman) Progressive Christian theologians have turned our attention to the concern of Jesus and his friends for the social, political and economic well-being of the marginalized and excluded. On the other hand, much of contemporary Christian faith emphasises a privatised, ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus. Progressives can frame a new expression of public theology (which works for the common good and the establishment of a civil society) by engaging in the public square of ideas and issues. Like midwives we honour the embodied, relational nature of human life. As people of faith, we articulate understandings and spiritual practices that are drawn from our tradition but intelligible in a secular world.

“Empowerment: Freedom, Power and the Church” (Stephen Ogden) Freedom is a brand name; universal and compelling, which permeates ‘our’ shared understanding of what it means to be ‘Western’. In most democracies, however, there are major structural inequities that make freedom an empty sign. In the Christian tradition, freedom is an inherent human capacity, which comes alive as we express our shared vocation of compassion and work for justice in the world. In many churches, however, there are inequities that make freedom a meaningless gesture. The Church’s ongoing debate about sexuality underlines the prevalence of these inequities. The Church is divided over sexuality, principally same-sex relations. When same-sex relations are debated, the topic is often referred to as ‘the gay problem’. By problematizing gay people, that is, by putting them in boxes, the debate becomes skewed. This reinforces not only the disempowerment of LGBTI people, but also the disempowerment of others who do not fit the right box (the divorced, single parents, the homeless and people with disabilities). These debates highlight the deep-seated nature of the inequities in the Church, which run counter to the inclusive ministry of Jesus and undermine the divine gift of freedom. In order to restore the gift of freedom, the issue of power has to be addressed. This presentation is about power, which is a highly contested issue. On the one hand, power is a negative concept, often understood in terms of control (power over). On the other hand, power is a positive concept when understood as empowerment (power to be). In fact, we are all called to be free. This is the freedom to become who we are meant to be. And we claim this freedom, as religious communities, as we are mutually empowered.

“Teachings the Church Forgot: Jesus’ Blueprint for the Best Possible World” (Lorraine Parkinson) In the early church Jesus’ teachings were sidelined in order to identify him as the Messiah. Yet those teachings had drawn people to him. He had expanded implications of Mosaic Law to their ultimate possibilities and taught people how to build the best possible world. Gospel depictions of rivalry between Jesus and Pharisees stem from the disastrous Jewish War against the Romans (66-70 CE), when Jerusalem and Temple were destroyed. After the war, when the Pharisees developed a reformed Judaism without the Temple, they did not want Jews to follow a crucified Messiah some believed would return to overthrow the Romans. Messianic hope had already led to too many deaths. By then the Paul-influenced Jewish and Gentile Christ movement had long been waiting for Jesus the Messiah/Christ to return triumphantly from heaven – like those today awaiting the ‘Rapture’! Fourth Century Christian doctrine about Jesus the Christ stated that he was fully human and fully divine. The teacher of non-violence from the Galilee had been transformed into the divine Christ, compatible with imperialist Rome. When Emperor Constantine gathered bishops in Nicaea, the creed they wrote included none of Jesus’ teachings. This presentation will identify reasons for that, including the dangerous nature of those teachings. It will explain how belief in Jesus as imperialist Christ led to the disastrous historical alliance between church and state. It will state why rejection of imperialist Christian doctrine and a return to Jesus’ teachings is the only way toward a new reformation of Christianity.

“Midwives of Change” (Val Webb) "You are a midwife, assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: 'We did it ourselves!'.” (Tao Te Ching)

WORKSHOPS

“Memories, Conversions, and Convictions” (Marcus Borg) A participatory exploration of our life journeys using this triad. Memories: what we absorbed as we were growing up - religiously, intellectually, and politically. Conversions: major changes in those understandings. Convictions: not in the sense of dogmatic opinions, but what we have become convinced of at a deep level, so much so that only a major shaking of the foundations could change those convictions. Note: This workshop will be repeated on Saturday afternoon.

“Stop White Collar Crime. Changing the Political Religious Landscape” (Glynn Cardy) The influence of religious organizations in the political landscape of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia has changed significantly over the last 100 years. In a secular society, in a society that often mistrusts religious organizations, should those of a progressive faith persuasion try to influence political policy and outcomes, and if so how? ‘Stop White Collar Crime’ is a story of trying to address injustice within the Anglican Church [‘white collar’ referring to bishops], but like one tributary of a river it quite quickly joined with other tributaries to feed into a major national movement for social change. This workshop gives participants an opportunity to share stories about working for political change—the strategies, frustrations, and occasional successes of that—and the opportunity to learn from and support each other.

“No Creche for Christmas, Mom” (Ann Evans) This workshop is for anybody who has experienced the cultural divide between Christianity and secularism up close and personal—right in their own family! We will share our stories of grief, along with our strategies for how to stand in our own identity, sacred traditions, and spiritual practices, while respecting the modernist, secular norms of family.

“Spiritual Vitality and Intellectual Integrity: Shaping Progressive Liturgy ‘Down Under’” (Rex Hunt) Towards the end of his life, Westar Institute founder Robert Funk, issued a ‘call to arms’ on the Sunday morning experience: "throw the old forms out and start over [again]... design a new Sunday Morning experience from the ground up... new music, new liturgy, new scriptures, new ceremonies, new rites of passage". And what goals might this ‘experience’ contain? Funk made a few suggestions, some of which are listed here:

(i) it should square with and thus confirm the modern world as the horizon of our bona fide religious experience;

(ii) should have scriptures, selectively chosen, from the Bible and other sacred texts, ancient and modern;

(iii) the experience should grant permission to undertake journeys of faith into unchartered territories;

(iv) be radically inclusive, and

(v) be a celebration of life.

This workshop will explore some models based on Funk’s plea.

“Reclaiming the Bible for Religious Progressives: Performing Philemon” (Gregory Jenks) The letter to Philemon takes up less than a page in the Bible, and appears to address no significant theological issues. Yet an imaginative engagement with this brief letter can open up fresh insights into discipleship, and ways that Scripture can inform and transform our religious practice. Come prepared to get involved. Before coming to this session check the marginal notes in your Bible and/or other resources such as Bible dictionaries to which you have access, and come prepared to get involved as we 'perform' Philemon. This is one element of a typical BIBLE360 program, and normally needs more time than we will have at CD3. That is why I am asking participants to do some prior work, as I will not have time to give information about Philemon, slavery in ancient world, etc. We basically role play the letter to Philemon and then de-brief, discovering in the process that this insignificant scrap of NT has much to offer - and that it is OK to use spiritual imagination in the quest for wisdom. Historicity is not a prerequisite for truth.

“Sabotage at the Birthing Stool: Heroines & Heroes or Saboteurs of Change in Today’s Diverse, Sacred Communities?" (Aviva Kipen) There are many childbirths… Some are well prepared, labour intense but entirely bearable, appropriately supported and life-giving for the new born, affirming for the mother, celebrated by family and community; others seemingly brutal, overly demanding of birthing mother and infant, but ultimately successful. Sadly, many end before term – some endings invisible, others shared and known. Despite enormous medical progress, some deliveries do not bring new life and mothers still give up their own lives in childbirth. As metaphor for the many efforts to bring change in communities, “birth” touches us all.

Biblical midwives Shifrah and Puah were enjoined by Pharaoh to kill all Hebrew male slave infants at the moment of their delivery. They served God. Their defiance of imperial decree resulted in them emerging as heroines. Their sabotage of the Egyptian edict was, from their Hebrews’ perspective, magnificent courage. Moral code, proclaimed theology and personal conviction still dictate both intentional and unconscious subversion. Principled defiance may camouflage acts of sabotage and interpretation rests upon point of view. From which levels of response might we grapple with sabotage when churches must merge, ministers be appointed or terminated, carpets purchased, government policy confronted or head of the tea roster retired? The biblical text helps identify saboteurs and their motives and demands that we, too, take a position on such efforts, if they would confound our own ambitions. But what of our motives…?

“Midwives to the Midwives of Change” (Ian Mavor) Near the Conference’s end, this Workshop will reflect on insights from the sessions that have given meaning to the theme “Midwives of Change.” The perspective provided will draw on the Integral Philosophy of Ken Wilber, as developed in his Integral Spirituality, and Paul Smith’s application of it in Integral Christianity. The term ‘midwife’ is rich in meaning and has been taken up in contexts beyond that associated with women giving birth.

For 20 years I have been associated with Hopewell Hospice on the Gold Coast, and those involved in providing palliative care are often referred to as “midwives to the dying,” with parallels drawn between the transitions of birth and death. Hopewell’s Paradise Kids groups support children dealing with grief and loss, with each child having a trained volunteer “buddy” who provides a listening ear and supportive presence throughout the seven sessions of the program. The buddies serve a “midwife” role assisting the children to reflect on the painful process of grief. This helps the experience of loss become an opportunity to learn about life, and how to deal creatively with its challenges.

As well as being “Midwives of Change,” Conference participants can serve as elders (‘midwives’) to others in their spiritual and religious communities who can also assist the evolutionary process. In the spirit of the final step of the Twelve Step Program, having gained the benefit of this Conference, the challenge is to carry this message of growth and change to become midwives to other “Midwives of Change”.

“Midwives are ‘Hands On’: Progressive Communities and Engaged Politics” (Margaret Mayman) Using midwifery as a metaphor for our work in progressive religious communities, suggests the challenge of being “hands on” in the transformation of the world for peace and justice. Sharing the story of her faith community as it has been involved in engaged politics over the last decade (from the decriminalization of prostitution in 2003 to their current involvement in the Living Wage Campaign), Margaret will offer a model of community politics that enables an intentional faith response based on collaboration with secular groups who are working for social change. Through participation in these struggles, St Andrew’s has countered the widely held view of churches as exclusive, judgmental and other-worldly. Engagement becomes an invitation to progressive community.

“Integral Evolutionary Christianity: Waking Up, Growing Up, Showing Up, and Acting Up” (Rod Mitchell) In our modern western world where is Spirit to be found? Equally in this so called ‘modern scientific’ world which is full of exciting knowledge and technology, why is the word Evolution a ‘dirty’ word in church circles? If religious communities are to be refreshed then it’s essential to go back to the source. In other words, model its founder, not its followers. So what would a future Christian spiritual community look like if it explored in greater depth the questions of where to find Spirit in an integral evolutionary world? This workshop will examine these questions using the work of Ken Wilber as a framework. A web-site: www.pluginyes.co.nz has been set up to explain in more detail these insights, plus information directing workshop participants to books and web sources will be available to all workshop members.

“Who Can Be a Midwife for Positive Change? The Answer is in the Beatitudes?” (Lorraine Parkinson) Could it be that the ultimate guide to the best possible person is the cryptic, hard-to-fathom, intriguing set of Jesus’ sayings known as ‘The Beatitudes’? Why do they say such unrealistic, sometimes apparently nonsensical things? Can they have anything rational and helpful to say to people trying to follow Jesus’ teachings and become ‘midwives of change’? Countless preachers have tried to make sense of the Beatitudes. Some have invented ‘clever’ sermon titles like ‘The Be Happy Attitudes’, or ‘The Attitude of Gratitude’. It is true that many of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount are so difficult to follow that Christians through the ages have given up trying and adopted the ‘salvation religion’ of Jesus the Christ. Yet Jesus himself must surely have left guidelines to enable his followers to put his teachings into practice. This workshop will propose that those guidelines are in fact, the Beatitudes. The workshop will use group discussion to examine the Beatitudes for clues to the kind of person represented in each. The aim of the workshop is to reveal how by following Jesus in accordance with the Beatitudes, it is possible to become the best possible human being, the first step towards creating the best possible world – what Jesus called ‘The Kingdom of heaven’ (on earth).

“Environmental Ethics and Eco-Theology” (Noel Preston) Contemporary science and cosmology promote an eco-centric understanding of life. This workshop explores how this phenomenon has undermined traditional  western ethics (including Christian Ethics) and also monotheistic theology. Moreover, this worldview means that any credible, progressive belief system and spirituality must be centred on an eco-theology and eco-spirituality. But what do we mean by this?

“Beyond Navel-gazing: Progressive Religion and Global Citizenship” (Noel Preston) The Topic: In a paper on ethics I delivered at the Common Dreams1 Conference I alluded to the sub-theme of that conference, progressive religion as a transforming agent and pointed to the task I called cultural transformation, and then added “cultural transformation..., not reforming religion, is the primary vocation of what we call progressive theology”. As it happens, the sub-theme of this CD3 Conference is progressives re-shaping religious communities. My judgement might be a bit unfair, but that sounds a little like navel-gazing, though I fully acknowledge reshaping religious communities is a legitimate task for progressives. However, that is never an end in itself. Moreover, historically, religious communities have easily lapsed into introspection and an agenda of self-maintenance – and that is a temptation from which not even we self-styled progressives are immune. Indeed, now the era of Christendom is well and truly past, neo-orthodox, fundamentalist and progressive alike share the reality that their place in the world is uncertain and contestable.

My contention is that, both faithfulness to the best in our tradition as well as the context of the twenty–first century, require progressives (with their emphasis on orthopraxis rather than orthodoxy) to contribute to informed transformative action and dialogue in the world as a primary focus. Furthermore, this challenge coincides with a growing movement of global consciousness which is exploring the possibility of 'global citizenship', a term to be clarified in the workshop. The presenter's assumption, firstly, is that our primary identity as religious progressives is that as members of homo sapiens (within Earth's community of life) – not that of 'Christian' or 'Jewish' or 'American' or... and, secondly, that our worldview must be eco-centric – not anthropocentric or exclusive in other ways. Workshop Processes: After briefly introducing the topic, the workshop will be in two parts:

(a) what is the challenge? and

(b) what then can we do?

The symposium will be participative, employing processes such as input from the presenter, questions and answers, brainstorming, and buzz groups. The potential, collective outcome of the workshop is a call to the CD Conference to affirm co-ordinated action by progressive groups as global citizens. The dialogue of the workshop will attempt to inspire and position participants to act accordingly.

“Hospital Chaplaincy Beyond Religious Control: A Compelling Pilgrimage” (Sande Ramage) Surveying hospital staff about chaplaincy lifted the lid on the view that Christian chaplaincy is somewhat irrelevant in the healthcare system. It also highlighted curiosity and awareness about spirituality beyond religious traditions. The survey was undertaken after chaplains at Palmerston North hospital noticed some puzzling inconsistencies. For instance, they might be called to bless a room after someone died, a practice consistent with Maori spirituality, but rarely called to be with the dying person because, ‘the patient wasn’t religious.’ Limited referrals were being made to chaplains because staff understood patients, on the whole, weren’t interested in religion. Involvement in multi-disciplinary teams was prohibited because of a Privacy Commissioner ruling that marginalized chaplaincy outside the mainstream healthcare system. Given that chaplains are contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide spiritual support to patients, families and staff of all faiths and none, it was clear more exploration was needed. When asked, staff said they didn’t really understand what chaplains did but thought they would most likely work around death and dying. That didn’t make much sense given the experience that led to surveying. While one respondent reckoned spirituality was scarier than asking about sex, many more were able to offer erudite, contemporary definitions. It all seemed a bit muddled. As a result, an intriguing journey exploring spirituality and chaplaincy in the healthcare system opened up. A compelling pilgrimage focused on wondering how it would be if spirituality were an integral part of the healthcare system, beyond but not excluding religious and cultural traditions. Not surprisingly, this journey is offering theological, spiritual, cultural and structural challenges to a spirited woman trying to live and work out of a Progressive Christianity framework, inside a church that hasn’t yet explored its control of chaplaincy in New Zealand.

“Reshaping the Healing Narratives in the Light of Progressive Theology” (John W Smith) Research indicates that there are 23 examples of Jesus' ‘healing ministry’ in the canonical gospels, if we include the stories of the ‘raising of the dead.’ In reality these stories are simply just a ‘tip of the iceberg’ of Jesus' healing ministry and yet they receive little acknowledgement from New Testament scholars and theologians. The traditional interpretation of these narratives, paint a largely negative attitude towards people seeking wholeness. However, if we examine them in the light of progressive New Testament scholarship we recognise them as examples of empowerment promoting the ‘empowering tenor of the reign of God in Christian lore'.

“Ain’t It Necessarily So? Progressive Religion and Theological Education”, Panel Discussion: Dr Val Webb, Dr Greg Jenks, Prof. Marcus Borg, Jen Burns” (Moderator: Keith Rowe) This panel will address questions of the nature of theological/ministerial education for our day and in the light of the progressive criticism of inherited theologies and structures. How can we and/or the churches prepare women and men for leadership within progressive congregations? How can our theological colleges prepare men and women for ministry in a changed and changing world where Christian belief is no longer static and in a divided and often violent world where Christian wisdom and energy still has a role to play in the healing of the human family? How can theological education prepare men and women for positive engagement and cooperation with those of other faiths? Has the inherited ‘schooling’ model’ outlived its usefulness; should progressives be developing alternative forms of theological education open to both laity and clergy? The panel represents wide experience in theological and ministerial education.

Bruce Sanguin In a series of three workshops, Bruce Sanguin will lead interactive workshops on core agreements or principles of evolutionary Christianity. Using poetry and holy conversation, Bruce intends for these to be genuine workshops, in the sense of asking for critical feedback about how these three principles “land”. Because these agreements are evolving, this feedback will inform future iterations of the core agreements.

Workshop 1 “Core Agreement: Failing Bravely”. Evolution as a problem-solving process loves failure, using it to self-correct and re-organize at a higher level in the service of self-transcendence. Contrast this with the pressure to conform, reflective of traditional expressions of Christianity. How might embracing failure as spiritual practice liberate us to imagine and enact new and exciting futures? We will use the poetry of Emily Dickenson, Sri Chinmoy, and others.

Workshop 2 “Core Agreement: Facing Crisis with Hope (Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome)”. The creative impulse has met with and overcome cataclysm and unimaginable suffering over 13.7 billion years. As the presence of that creativity in human form what difference does it make to hold the various crises, social, ecological, economic, that confront us in the 21st century within the context of Big History? We will engage in a conversation about what an evidence-based, scripturally informed, hope might look like today. We will use the poetry of Christopher Frye and Canadian singer-songwriter, Bruce Cockburn.

Workshop 3 “Core Agreement: Holding Nothing Back: Surrendering to Grace”. What does it mean to ecstatically surrender ourselves to grace from within an evolutionary paradigm? By saying “yes” to the Christic, creative impulse as it arises in our life, we cultivate sufficient fluidity and openness of heart and routine to follow this impulse wherever it might lead. We will use Goethe’s poem Holy Longing and Canadian singer-songwriter, Daniel Lanois.

BOOK/DVD LAUNCHES

During the Conference two books published in time for the 3rd Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, will be launched, plus the very latest DVD from the producers of Living the Questions.

  • John W Smith & Rex A Hunt New Life: Rediscovering Faith. Stories from Progressive Christians (Mosaic Press, 2013) The influence of ‘progressive’ theological thought and biblical scholarship has had a profound impact on the professional life of many clergy, even if that thought was not gained in Theological College or Seminary. Similarly, many lay people have questioned the traditional orthodox views and beliefs. While we now have a substantial amount of information about the impact this movement has had on the beliefs and practices of clergy, surprisingly little has been published about the impact of this new information on laywomen and men within the Christian faith. This book, which is a companion to our earlier edited collection called Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on progressive Christianity, attempts in a small way to redress this in-balance. Twenty-five lay women and men who have been active in the progressive Christian movements in Australia and New Zealand, were asked to share their spiritual journey and the personal impact of their newly acquired knowledge of the human or historical Jesus of Nazareth. They were asked to describe their faith development and to share the forces that impacted on their current understanding. The resulting stories are candid, raw, challenging, and above all, honest.
  • Rex A Hunt Cards, Carols, and Claus: Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity (Mosaic Press, 2013) The festival called ‘Christmas’ is a celebration still ‘under construction’. It is a weaving of story, myth, customs and ritual. Since its inception it has been debated, ignored, celebrated, banned, and from the mid-1800s, reinvented. As such it is the most human and lovable, and easily the most popular season of the year involving nearly all the population. The Christmas customs bring to the surface a kind of public ‘everyday secular’ spirituality that is beyond the power of Christianity or the institutional church to define or control. While it seems there will always be people for whom Christmas is a pious devotion rather than a festival or carnival - often interpreting the biblical nativity narratives literally as the ‘real Christmas story’ - such people have always been in the minority. Indeed, it may not be going too far to say that Christmas has always been an extremely difficult holiday to Christianize! This exploration shares a brief story of the celebration of Christmas as a global and hybrid celebration; focuses on the Australian celebrations of Christmas as expressed through such popular culture events as (a) participation in Carols by Candlelight; (b) the sending and receiving of Christmas Cards; and (c) the popularity and traditions around the ‘red-and-white’ Santa Claus; and offers some of the suggestions and results from progressive biblical criticism of the birth narratives of Jesus/Yeshua of Nazareth and resulting doctrines from those narratives.
  • Living the Questions Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith Celebrating the communion of science and faith, Painting the Stars explores the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality. Featuring over a dozen leading theologians and progressive thinkers, the seven-session program includes a downloadable/printable participant reader (written by evolutionary theologian Bruce Sanguin) and a facilitator guide with discussion questions. The basic format for each 1-1 ½ hour session includes conversation around the readings, a 20-minute video presentation and guided discussion. "This course is a masterpiece. The content, editing and graphics are beyond first rate. Congratulations to all." (John Jacobson, Facilitator - New Smyrna Beach Theology Club.)
  • PRESENTERS & WORKSHOP LEADERS

      Professor Marcus Borg is Canon Theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, OR, USA. Known in both academic and church circles as a biblical and Jesus scholar, he held the Hundere Chair of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University until his retirement in 2007. Marcus is the author of 20 books, including Jesus: A New Vision (1987) and the best-seller Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time (1994); The God We Never Knew (1997); The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (1999); Reading the Bible Again for the First Time (2001), and The Heart of Christianity (2003), both best-sellers.

    More recent books include Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary (2006), a New York Times Best-Seller; Conversations with Scripture: Mark (2009); three books co-authored with John Dominic Crossan, The Last Week (2006), The First Christmas (2007), and The First Paul (2009): his first novel, Putting Away Childish Things (April, 2010); and Speaking Christian (April, 2011). His newest book is Evolution of the Word, a chronological New Testament in which the documents- books of the New Testament are printed in the chronological order in which they were written, with introductions to each (August, 2012).

    Described by The New York Times as "a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars," he has appeared on NBC's Today Show and Dateline, PBS's Newshour, ABC’s Evening News and Prime Time with Peter Jennings, NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and several National Geographic programs. A Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, he has been national chair of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and co-chair of its International New Testament Program Committee, and is past president of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars.  His work has been translated into eleven languages: German, Dutch, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and French. His doctor's degree is from Oxford University, and he has lectured widely overseas (England, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Israel and South Africa) and in North America, including the Chautauqua and Smithsonian Institutions.

    Revd Sonya Brown was ordained in July 2010 and is Assistant Curate at St Philip’s Church of England, Leicester.  The parish “is a Muslim parish in the heart of Leicester.  I'm heavily involved in interfaith dialogue there and run a minority Christian church in a Muslim community”.  She is a Committee Member of Progressive Christianity Network Britain.

    Previously to beginning training for ordination she worked as a Development Worker for the Southwark diocesan (Church of England) organisation Welcare.

    She enjoys living and learning in the very multi-faith context of Leicester.  She holds an inclusive theology and would really like to share with the world that you can be young, be liberal and be passionate about faith!

      Revd Glynn Cardy was for several years the vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, a progressive downtown church regularly in the news.  In July he announced his resignation from St Matthew’s to accept a Call to become the minister at The Community of St Luke (Presbyterian) in Auckland.

    Glynn is married to Stephanie, and is father to Michael, Andrew, Maria, and Anna.  They have one dog, and two cats.

    Glynn has lived and worked in a wide range of socio-economic and multi-racial communities.  He has one legal conviction: for disturbing the peace.

    Revd Dr Peter Catt is President of A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc. and the 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 was 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 served on Anglican Social Justice Committees at both Diocesan and National level.

      Dr Ann Evans is a Marital and Family therapist working in Vancouver, Canada, and also doing intensive couple work in other parts of the world. Previously for 20 years she taught pastoral counselling and dream interpretation at The Toronto School of Theology, Victoria University, Toronto. She also ran a training program for therapists in training and is a supervisor with AAMFT. The past president of The British Columbia branch of AAMFT, Ann began her professional life as a clergy person with The United Church of Canada. Most importantly she is a grandmother to four youngsters age 13 to 7.
     

    Revd David Felten is Pastor at Fountains United Methodist Church, Fountain Hills, Arizona. A native of Phoenix, David received a music education degree from Arizona State University before attending Boston University School of Theology where he earned his MDiv in Biblical Studies and History. Before completing Chaplaincy training at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, David spent a year studying as a Rotary Graduate Scholar at Perth Theological Hall of Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia where he received an Honours degree.

    David spent eight years as Associate Pastor and Co-pastor at Epworth United Methodist in West Phoenix and was appointed to start a new church in the Northeast Scottsdale area in July of 1998. Starting from scratch, Via de Cristo grew into a dynamic faith community serving a niche group of spiritual seekers and those who would otherwise be “church alumni”.

    In an effort to offer educational materials that were not being produced by other publishers, David and fellow United Methodist pastor, Jeff Procter-Murphy, created a new curriculum for Progressive Christians called Living the Questions. Developed at Via de Cristo and Asbury United Methodist, what started out as just one DVD series is now a growing catalog of curriculum, including the new series, “DreamThinkBeDo,” “Saving Jesus Redux,” “Matt & Lucy’s Version Births” (a Children’s Christmas Pageant), and a series questioning capital punishment with Sr Helen Prejean. LtQ curriculum is now in use in nearly 6,000 churches in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand.

    David and co-author, Jeff Procter-Murphy, published their first book together in 2012: Living the Questions, the Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.

     

    Revd Rex A E Hunt is a retired Uniting Church in Australia minister, Founder and Life Member of The Network of Biblical Storytellers Australia/New Zealand, Founding Director and Life Member of The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra, and an Associate of the Westar Institute. He is also Chair of the Common Dreams Conference for Religious Progressives.

    In 2012 he published a collection of progressive sermons called Against the Stream. Progressive Christianity between Pulpit and Pew (Mosaic Press, 2012), and has edited two books with John W Smith: (i) Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on Progressive Christianity (Polebridge Press, 2013). and (ii) New Life: Rediscovering Faith. Stories from Progressive Christians (Mosaic Press, 2013)  His latest book on Christmas is called Cards, Carols, and Claus: Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity (Mosaic Press, 2013) will be launched at CD3.  Rex was a Presenter at the CD1 Conference (2007) in Sydney.

      Revd Dr Gregory C Jenks [www.gregoryjenks.com] is Academic Dean at St Francis Theological College, Brisbane and a co-director of the Bethsaida Excavations in Israel. His recent publications have included The Once and Future Bible: An Introduction to the Bible for Religious Progressives (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and The Once and Future Scriptures: Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church (Polebridge/Mosaic, 2013).

    His workshop will offer a taste of the BIBLE360 program (www.bible260.org.au) developed by Greg in 2012 as an introduction to the Bible for Brisbane Anglicans, and now used more widely in the Australian Anglican community. Greg was a Presenter at the CD1 Conference (2007) in Sydney.

      Rabbi Aviva Kipen was born in Melbourne and in 1991 became the first Australian woman ordained to the Rabbinate following her training at Leo Baeck College, London. Aviva returned to Australia in 1995 after postings in the UK and NZ. She worked on staff at the Temple Beth Israel and Bentleigh Progressive Synagogue and now works in a ministry beyond congregational walls, serving Bet Olam Jewish Funerals, in Greater Melbourne and country Victoria (frequently officiating for mixed faith families) and for the Union for Progressive Judaism in the region. Aviva has taught for MCD University of Divinity and the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria and her strong pastoral involvement underpins extensive work in grief and loss, including corporate chaplaincy.

    A member of Australia’s delegation to the ASEAN Regional Interfaith Dialogue Phnom Penh conference, Ad Hom Fellow of Ormond College, Melbourne University and past member of several Victorian human research ethics committees, Aviva was appointed to the Australian Health Ethics Committee in 2012. She continues to work in churches by invitation and conducted workshops at the invitation of Wes Hartley and Jeremy Greaves in 2011 and was a guest of the Anglican Diocese of Perth on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of women’s ordination in Australia in 2012. Aviva was a Workshop Presenter/Panelist at the CD2 Conference (2010) in Melbourne.

      Revd Dr Nigel Leaves is Canon of St. John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, Australia, where he is responsible for adult theological education. He is Adjunct Lecturer in Theology at Charles Sturt University. He has a PhD in Theology from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, an MA(Dist) in Religious Education from King's College, London, and an MA in Theology from Keble College, Oxford University.

    A highly regarded conference speaker and educator, Leaves has lectured in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. He is author of four books including The God Problem and Religion Under Attack and is currently at work on a new book entitled Which Jesus? Whose Christ? He has recently contributed towards The Once and Future Scripture (February 2013) and Why Weren’t We Told? (January 2013).

    He is married to another priest and is a ‘golfing tragic’ (current handicap of 9).

      • Revd Dr Ian Mavor, OAM, FACE. The Gold Coast charity Hopewell Hospice Services Inc was founded in 1993 by Ian Mavor and Deirdre Hanna, who had the vision of a place of hospitality for the dying. The Hospice provides residential palliative care, Paradise Kids supports children and families dealing with grief, loss and illness, and Hopewell Education Services provides volunteer training and community education in areas such as Grief Counselling, Palliative Care and Suicide Intervention.

    Ian is Executive Director of Hopewell, and previous roles have included serving as Executive Director, Lifeline Gold Coast; Principal Education Officer (Health & Personal Development), Education Queensland; Master of King’s College, University of Queensland; Dean of the Brisbane College of Theology; and Leader of the Queensland Religious Education Curriculum Project.

    Ian’s doctoral studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Union Theological Seminary, New York, were in Curriculum Theory applied to dealing with religion in educational contexts. He has continued to develop his academic interests in a range of fields and for the past 23 years has found the writings of Integral Philosopher, Ken Wilber, particularly valuable as a way of drawing diverse points of view into a coherent summary.

    From a lifetime of community service, Ian has well developed communication skills, including an ability to listen to a wide range of opinions. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators and in 2002 was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) “for service to the community through a range of church, social welfare, education and health groups.” He was a workshop presenter at the CD2 (2010) Conference in Melbourne.

      Revd Dr Margaret Mayman minister at St Andrew’s on The Terrace, Wellington, New Zealand since 2002.  After ordination she studied in New York and gained a PhD in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary.  At St Andrew’s, Margaret led the congregation through a change process in which they have consciously identified as a progressive congregation with a mission to ‘seek the welfare of the city’.  They practice a ministry of inclusive hospitality and seek to participate in the public square of New Zealand’s capital city. As chair of the St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society, she has developed programs that bring religious and ethical insights into dialogue with the issues of the secular city.

     

    Margaret has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns, most recently in support of Marriage Equality and the Living Wage.  In 2010 she was awarded an international fellowship to the Kettering Foundation in Ohio where she researched faith communities' engagement in community politics.

     

    Margaret presented at Common Dreams 2 and she did a Common Dreams on the Road series in four Australian cities in 2011.

    Margaret’s interests include queer spirituality, human rights advocacy, refugee issues, peace, and economic and sexual justice. She lives with her partner Clare, who is also a Presbyterian minister, and her son Andrew, a unique and wonderful person with autism.  In December, Margaret will become minister at Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney.

     

    Revd Dr Rodney Mitchell writes “I have, throughout my life, been a keen explorer of what it means to be a spiritual person in a traditional, modern, post-modern and integral evolutionary world. As a minister, educator and counsellor who has worked in parish, social service agencies and the education sector in the United Kingdom, America, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, some tentative insights have emerged.

    In recent times I have begun to reassess my participation in a form of Christianity that I see as dangerously stuck and static while another world, exciting and dynamic, cries out for co-operation, creativity and genuine participation. I am delighted to participate in Common Dreams 3 Conference, and seek with others, to create a better future."

      Revd Dr Steven Ogden is Principal of St Francis Anglican Theological College Brisbane, as well as an adjunct lecturer at Charles Sturt University. He is formerly Dean of St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide, SA. Over the years, Steven has had the opportunity to work with political, business and community leaders. He has been interviewed regularly on radio, here and overseas, on ethical, social and religious matters.

    As a speaker and writer, Steven celebrates the worth of human beings and encourages the creation of communities of hope, working with compassion for justice. His latest book is a popular work called Love Upside Down: Life: Love and the Subversive Jesus. He is presently writing an academic work on freedom, power and the Church.

      Revd Dr Lorraine Parkinson is a retired Minister of the Uniting Church. Her ministry included city parishes and part-time university chaplaincy. She was widowed in 1987 and in 2007 married widower, the Rev Dr John Bodycomb, combining a family of six children and sixteen grandchildren. Lorraine began Arts at Melbourne University in 1989, majoring in Jewish Studies. That included biblical and modern Hebrew and the Aramaic of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Her theology degree expanded an interest in biblical studies and languages, including New Testament Greek and Coptic. A Master’s thesis on the historical Jesus was extended to a doctoral dissertation researched in Jerusalem at the École biblique et archaéologique et francais Jérusalem and Cambridge University, UK.

    Lorraine has written and led study series on the historical Jesus for various congregations and in 2010 she published a book, The World According to Jesus: his blueprint for the best possible world. Her current book concerns the portrait of Jesus as Messiah painted by gospel writers. She has lectured and led seminars on these and other subjects including Theodicy (the problem of evil in a world created by a good God), in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

    Jewish Studies included study of the Holocaust, which equipped Lorraine for extensive involvement in Christian-Jewish relations in the Uniting Church at Synod and Assembly levels, including 10 years on the national dialogue between the Uniting Church and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Lorraine is Vice-President of the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria and Convener of a group of progressive clergy in Melbourne.

      Revd Dr Noel Preston, AM, is an ethicist, theologian and social commentator currently Adjunct Professor in the Key Centre for Ethics, Law Justice and Governance, Griffith University. He retired in November 2004 as the founding Director of the UnitingCare Centre for Social Justice. Previously (from 1987–2001) he held senior academic positions at Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University in the fields of Applied and Professional Ethics. He is currently on the Committee of Earth Charter Australia. He has been a regular public commentator on social ethics.

    Among seven books he has sole or co-authored and edited, his introductory textbook Understanding Ethics was reissued as a revised third edition in late 2007 with major additions and updates. In 2007 he also edited and contributed to an issue of the journal Social Alternatives themed “Global Ethics”. In 2006 he delivered the Aquinas Lecture at the Australian Catholic University: “Ethics san frontieres: toward the vocation of Global Citizenship”. In 2004 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community in the field of ethics.

    In his capacity as a social justice campaigner since the early 1970s and as a minister of the Uniting Church he has previously held leadership roles in various church social justice portfolios including inaugural Convenor of the Uniting Church’s Assembly Commission on Social Responsibility, Queensland Director of Action for World Development and Executive Officer of the Victorian Synod Division of Social Justice. He has been the founding chair/convenor of the Queensland social action groups Concerned Christians (1976), People for Nuclear Disarmament(1983), Citizens Against Corruption (1988).  In 2006 he published a memoir/social history Beyond the Boundary: A memoir exploring ethics, politics and spirituality (Zeus Publications).

    Noel is a grandfather and father of two daughters and a son. In retirement, he currently lives in Wellington Point with his wife Olga Harris. Noel was a Presenter at the CD1 Conference (2007) in Sydney.

     

    Revd Dr Alan Race was ordained in the Church of England in 1976 and has worked in settings as varied as parish ministry, university chaplaincy, ordination training, and interfaith education.

    Alan is a Committee Member of the Progressive Christianity Network Britain.  He has pursued an interest in dialogue between faith traditions for most of his ministry and has written and edited a number of books in this area.  He is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Interreligious Insight.

     

     

    Revd Sande Ramage is a writer, hospital chaplain and Anglican priest with a background in health promotion, public health and change management.

    She is companion to Kali, the Black Labrador, whose Zen approach is inspirational as Sande blogs at spiritedcrone.com and curates the Moments page for the Vaughan Park Anglican Retreat Centre.

     

      Revd Bruce Sanguin is a minister of the United Church of Canada, previously at Canadian Memorial Church and Centre for Peace in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and a member of the British Columbia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. His passion is evolutionary and ecological theology. He has authored several books including The Advance of Love and If Darwin Prayed. www.brucesanguin.com.
     

    • Revd John W H Smith was ordained as a ‘Minister of the Word’ in 1974. His ministries in the Uniting Church include welfare management, chaplaincy and parish ministry. A trained social worker, John is recognised for his pioneering work with children, including the establishment of non-residential programs for young offenders. He worked with adults with intellectual disabilities, developing ‘least restrictive’ innovative programs.

    John is a founding member of the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria. He is also a member and serves on the planning teams for Common Dreams conferences and ‘Common Dreams on the Road’.  John is currently the parish minister at St Andrew’s Uniting Church Box Hill. He is an Associate of the Westar Institute.

    John is co-editor with Rex Hunt of Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on Progressive Christianity (Polebridge Press, 2013) and New Life: Rediscovering Faith. Stories from Progressive Christians (Mosaic Press, 2013). He was a Workshop presenter at the CD1 Conference (2007) in Sydney.

      • Dr Val Webb holds a graduate degree in Science and a PhD in Theology. Her professional career has included microbiology, business, public relations, art and religious studies. Born and educated in Brisbane, Australia, Val lived for almost thirty years in the United States.

    During a period back in Brisbane in the 1980's, she held leadership positions in the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia. She has taught religious studies and world religions at universities in the United States and Australia and has written ten books, the most recent an expanded edition of her popular book In Defence of Doubt: An Invitation to Adventure. Val writes for those who call themselves spiritual rather than religious, those disenchanted with organised religion and those simply fascinated with the human search for meaning.

    Bishop Jack Spong says of her: “Val Webb is one of the most exciting Christian voices in the 21st Century”. Val continues her teaching and speaking engagements in Australia and overseas from her home base of Mudgee, NSW.

    Margaret has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns, most recently in support of Marriage Equality and the Living Wage.  In 2010 she was awarded an international fellowship to the Kettering Foundation in Ohio where she researched faith communities' engagement in community politics.

    Margaret presented at Common Dreams 2 and she did a Common Dreams on the Road series in four Australian cities in 2011.

    Margaret’s interests include queer spirituality, human rights advocacy, refugee issues, peace, and economic and sexual justice. She lives with her partner Clare, who is also a Presbyterian minister, and her son Andrew, a unique and wonderful person with autism.  In December, Margaret will become minister at Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney.

Progressive Christianity Australia



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ARCHIVES - Common Dreams 3

The details of Common Dreams 3, held in Canberra in 2013, are presented below.

The Program

3rd COMMON DREAMS CONFERENCE

THIRD INTERNATIONAL GATHERING OF RELIGIOUS PROGRESSIVES

Manning Clark Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

19th – 22nd September 2013

Conference Theme:

Midwives of Change: Progressives Shaping Religious Communities

International Keynote Presenters:

Professor Marcus Borg (USA), Revd Bruce Sanguin (Canada), Revd David Felten (USA)

Special International Guests:

Revd Dr Alan Race, Sonya Brown

(Progressive Christianity Network, Britain)

PROGRAM

Thursday, 19th September 2013

Afternoon

3.30-5.00 pm Registration opens

2.00 – 4.30pm  SPECIAL: Pre-Conference Forum

"Offering an Alternative: Being Progressive Christians about Politics".  An introduction to the work of A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia), especially as it stands in contrast to The Australian Christian Lobby.

Presenters:

Dr Peter Catt:

1.  "The Theology of Political Engagement"

2.  "The Progressive Agenda, cf Conservatism"

Followed by Discussion and Afternoon Tea

Evening

6.00-7.00 pm Registration

7.00-7.30 pm Entertainment: Canberra Qwire

7.35 pm Welcome and Local Arrangements and Acknowledgement of Country (Rex Hunt)

7.45 pm Public Lecture: Professor Marcus Borg (USA) "Progressive Christianity and the Christian Future" (Moderator:  Richard Carter)

Friday, 20th September 2013

Morning

8.00 am Registration.

8.15-8.45 am Morning Meditation (Sande Ramage)

9.00 am Welcome to Conference and Official Opening and Acknowledgement of Country: Rex Hunt

9.15 am Keynote Address: Dr Val Webb (Aus.) "Midwives of Change" (Moderator:  Roger Munson)

10.15 am Morning Tea

11.00 am Keynote Address: Dr Lorraine Parkinson (Aus.) "Teachings the Church Forgot: Jesus' Blueprint for the Best Possible World" (Moderator: Linda Pure)

12.00 noon Evaluation process (five minutes) (Facilitator: Richard Carter)

Free Time: Informal Conversation around the Coffee Pot, Lunch, Networking, Book shop.

12.45-1.15pm

SPECIAL LUNCHTIME EVENT:  Launch of books  NewLife: rediscovering Faith (John W. Smith and Rex A Hunt (ed)) and Cards, Carols, and Clause:  Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity (Rex A Hunt) and the DVD Series Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith (Living the Questions) by Co-Founder, LtQ, David Felten)

Afternoon

1.30pm Breakout Groups.

A time for participants to engage in informal conversation on local and regional issues for religious progressives. Val Webb, Glynn Cardy, Nigel Leaves, Ann Evans, Steve Ogden, Lorraine Parkinson and some other Presenters and Workshop Leaders to be available to visit/resource these groups.

Group 1. (Facilitator: Jeremy Greaves).

Group 2. (Facilitator: Roger Munson).

Group 3. (Facilitator: Eric Stevenson).

Group 4. (Facilitator: Elizabeth Burns).

Group 5. (Facilitator: Ian Pearson).

2.45pm Afternoon Tea.

3.30-4.15pm Workshops A

1. "Memories, Conversations and Convictions", Prof. Marcus Borg (USA). (Also to be repeated 2.15pm Saturday) (Moderator: Peter Correy)

2. “Stop White Collar Crime. Changing the Political Religious Landscape”, Glynn Cardy (NZ) (Moderator: Ray Richmond)

3. “Beyond Navel Gazing: Progressive Religion and Global Citizenship”, Dr Noel Preston (Aus) (Moderator: Wes Hartley)

4. “Integral Evolutionary Christianity: Waking Up, Growing Up, Showing Up, and Acting Up”, Dr Rod Mitchell (NZ) (Moderator: John Everall)

5. “Midwives are ‘Hands On’: Progressive Communities and Engaging Politics”, Dr Margaret Mayman (NZ). (Moderator: Greg Jenks)

4.15-5.00pm Workshops B

1. “Core Agreement: Failing Bravely”. Bruce Sanguin (Canada) (Moderator: Wes Hartley)

2. “Hospital Chaplaincy Beyond Religious Control: A Compelling Pilgrimage’”, Sande Ramage (NZ) (Moderator: Desley Garnett)

3. “Re-shaping the ‘Healing Narratives’ in light of Progressive Theology”, John W Smith (Aus.) (Moderator: Ray Richmond)

4. “No Creche for Christmas, Mom”, Ann Evans (Canada) (Moderator: Linda Pure)

5. “Ain’t It Necessarily So? Progressive Religion and Theological Education”, Panel Discussion: Dr Val Webb, Dr Greg Jenks, Prof. Marcus Borg, Jen Burns (Moderator: Alan Race)

Free Time: Informal Conversation around the Coffee Pot, Evening Meal, Networking, Book Shop

Evening

7.00pm Entertainment. “The Cashews”

7.35pm Conference Information (Rex Hunt)

7.45pm Public Lecture 2: Professor Marcus Borg (USA) "The Heart of Christianity" (Moderator: Elizabeth Burns)

Saturday, 21st September 2013

Morning

8.00am Registration.

8.15-8.45am Morning Meditation (Sande Ramage)

9.00am Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country.

9.05am Keynote Address: Revd Dr Nigel Leaves (Aus.) “Who Do You Say That I Am?’ Preaching Jesus Today” (Moderator:  Rod Peppiatt)

10.00am Morning tea.

11.00-12.10pm Keynote Address: Dr Steven Ogden (Aus.) “Empowerment: Freedom, Power and the Church” (Moderator: Richard Smith)

Free Time: Informal conversation around the Coffee Pot, Lunch, Networking, Book Shop

Special Lunchtime Event:

12.45pm-1.15pm Revd Dr Alan Race (GtB). “’Honest to God’. The Makings and the Celebration of a Midwife of Change" (Moderator: Rex Hunt)

Afternoon

2.15pm Workshops C.

1. “Core Agreement: Facing Crisis with Hope (Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome)”, Revd Bruce Sanguin (Canada) (Moderator: Allan Leggett)

2. "Memories, Conversations and Convictions", Prof. Marcus Borg (USA) (Repeat) (Moderator:  Jason Davies-Kildea)

3. “Spiritual Vitality and Intellectual Integrity: Shaping Progressive Liturgy ‘Down Under’”, Rex Hunt (Aus) (Moderator: Merilyn Tandukar)

4. “A Minority Christian Church in a Muslim Community - Some Reflections”, Sonya Brown (UK) (Moderator: Jill Tabart)

3.15pm Afternoon tea.

3.45pm Keynote Address: Revd Glynn Cardy (NZ) “Praying When G-o-d is Not a Person: Non-Theistic Prayer” (Moderator:  Ian Pearson)

Free Time: Informal conversation around the Coffee Pot, Evening meal, Networking, Book Shop

Evening

7.00pm Entertainment - The Jazz Republic

7.40pm Public Lecture 3: Revd Bruce Sanguin (Canada). “Putting the ‘Progress’ Back in Progressive Christianity” (Moderator: Rex Hunt)

Sunday, 22nd September 2013

Morning

8.00am Registration.

8.15-8.45am Meditation (Revd Sande Ramage)

9.00am Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country.

9.05am Keynote Address: Rabbi Aviva Kipen (Aus.) “Sabotage at the Birthing Stool: Heroines and Heroes or Saboteurs of Change in Today's Diverse, Sacred Communities?" (Moderator: John Queriel)

10.00am Morning tea.

10.30am Presentations & Workshops D.

1. “Core Agreement: Holding Nothing Back: Surrendering to Grace”. Revd Bruce Sanguin (Canada) (Moderator:  John Bodycomb)

2. “Reclaiming the Bible for Religious Progressives: Performing Philemon”, Revd Dr Gregory Jenks (Aus.) (Moderator: Richard Carter)

3. "Environmental Ethics and Eco-theology", Dr Noel Preston (Aus.) (Moderator: Roger Munson).

4. “Midwives to the Midwives of Change”, Revd Dr Ian Mavor (Aus.) (Moderator: Terry Ayling)

5. “Who can be a Midwife for Positive Change?  The Answer is in the Beatitudes?” Revd Dr Lorraine Parkinson (Aus.) (Moderator: Cynthia Spurr)

11.40am Keynote Address: Dr Margaret Mayman (NZ). “Birthing with Blood, Sweat and Tears: Progressive Public Theology” (Moderator: Jeremy Greaves)

Free Time: Informal conversation around the Coffee Pot, Lunch, Networking, Book Shop

Afternoon

2.30pm Closing Presentation:

Revd David Felten (USA). “The Progressive Future is Now" (Moderator:  John W Smith)

3.45-4.15pm Farewell. (Revd Rex Hunt).

Informal conversation around the Coffee Pot.

ENTERTAINMENT, PRESENTATION & WORKSHOP EXTRACTS

ENTERTAINMENT

The Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire consists of approximately 80 members from all walks of life, ranging from late teens right through to the wiser generations; all drawn together by their common love of music and singing. We are a non-auditioned choir, meaning that people of varying skill levels and experience can come and develop their passion for singing and even learn a few new tips and tricks every week in rehearsal, including not only vocal abilities and strength but stagecraft and even some choreography, which we call Choralography.

As the Qwire celebrates its 20th birthday this year, it continues to grow in size, diversity and the quality of its performances. The Qwire is now highly regarded within the straight and queer community not only for its vocal strength and performances, but also for its relaxed and social atmosphere. The Qwire brings together people from diverse sections of the ACT queer community and their allies and supporters to challenge stereotypes, and more importantly, build a bridge between the queer community and the non-queer community of Canberra through music.

The Cashews are a Canberra duo who write and perform quirky songs with a strong local flavour - featuring landmarks like the Tuggeranong Parkway, and Black Mountain Tower. The Cashews appeal to a wide range of audiences and are well known for their “guerrilla gigs” - free, spontaneous, acoustic gigs in unusual public places (such as atop Mount Ainslie).

In 2013 The Cashews are taking Guerrilla Gigs to the suburbs through their innovative “Local Gold” project—where you pick the spot and we put on the show. For more about Local Gold, go to www.localgold.net.au and for more on The Cashews go to www.thecashews.com.

The Jazz Republic provides the entertainment on the Saturday night. The band has been active on Canberra's jazz scene for the last three years, playing at numerous local venues and private functions, and regularly appearing at Jazz festivals such as Merimbula and Moruya. Featuring the attractive and powerful vocals of Leanne Dempsey, they play a blend of classic jazz and cabaret standards, swinging instrumentals from the bebop era, relaxing bossas and ballads and some eclectic originals.

PUBLIC LECTURES

“Progressive Christianity and the Christian Future” (Marcus Borg) Progressive Christians are often better known for what we don't believe rather than for what we do affirm. This is understandable, for progressive Christianity is to a large extent a negation of the most common forms of Christianity. But what is its positive content? And how do we articulate it in a way that is persuasive and compelling?

“The Heart of Christianity” (Marcus Borg) The central Christian symbol is the cross of Jesus. But what does this mean and not mean? Is it about Jesus dying to pay for the sins of the world so that we can be forgiven? Or is it not about that at all but about something far more important?

“Putting the ‘progress’ back in Progressive Christianity” (Bruce Sanguin) This Public Lecture will present the case for evolutionary Christian theology and spirituality. "Progressive" has come to be associated ironically with a deep pessimism about the future and a laser-sharp focus on all that is wrong with self, culture, and social systems. What is the evidence-based hope for the world that is congruent with an evolutionary paradigm without denying the depths of the planetary crisis that faces us? We will explore the evolutionary impulse as a Christic impulse that can animate and enliven our yearning for, and enactment of, the Kin(g)dom of God.

PRESENTATIONS

“Praying when G-o-d is Not a Person: Non-Theistic Prayer” (Glynn Cardy) The spiritual mentors of old were always reticent to offer pilgrims a guidebook, indeed any certainties, for the path of prayer. The danger was that any guidebook would divert their eyes from the path and their hearts from seeking it. Traditional images of God, particularly when gripped with the certainty of conviction, can divert one’s eyes from the spiritual path. For many progressive pilgrims the traditional images have cracked and fallen away, and similarly the prayers associated with them. When we move past traditional Christian discourse that fuses images with reality, prayer language – any prayer language – becomes difficult, including the word G-o-d. Yet many progressive pilgrims still want to engage with the glimpses of transformative love that we might name as divine, opening our hearts and minds to the vast expanse of untamed and unknown wonder. Kindness, laughter, children, and animals all offer avenues for enlarging the spiritual heart; as does learning how to live with suffering, and how to shed the weight of those false idols of prosperity, power and popularity. This Presentation is an encouragement to re-think what prayer means, how we do it, and for what purpose.

“Who Do You Say That I Am? Preaching Jesus Today” (Nigel Leaves) Nigel Leaves has been an ordained minister in the Anglican Church for 27 years. He has been astounded by the lack of basic knowledge of parishioners who have not heard or been taught the latest academic insights about Jesus of Nazareth. Having worked in six different parishes in three different countries, a recurring theme emerges: “Why weren’t they told?” How can there be such a disconnection between the Academy and the Pew? What do people really believe about the one whom the Gospels proclaim as ‘the Christ?’ What should the Church be preaching about Jesus today? Leaves will explore these issues with reference to some of the challenges that are raised in Religion Under Attack, Why Weren’t We Told? and The Once and Future Scriptures.

“Birthing with Blood, Sweat and Tears: Progressive Public Theology” (Margaret Mayman) Progressive Christian theologians have turned our attention to the concern of Jesus and his friends for the social, political and economic well-being of the marginalized and excluded. On the other hand, much of contemporary Christian faith emphasises a privatised, ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus. Progressives can frame a new expression of public theology (which works for the common good and the establishment of a civil society) by engaging in the public square of ideas and issues. Like midwives we honour the embodied, relational nature of human life. As people of faith, we articulate understandings and spiritual practices that are drawn from our tradition but intelligible in a secular world.

“Empowerment: Freedom, Power and the Church” (Stephen Ogden) Freedom is a brand name; universal and compelling, which permeates ‘our’ shared understanding of what it means to be ‘Western’. In most democracies, however, there are major structural inequities that make freedom an empty sign. In the Christian tradition, freedom is an inherent human capacity, which comes alive as we express our shared vocation of compassion and work for justice in the world. In many churches, however, there are inequities that make freedom a meaningless gesture. The Church’s ongoing debate about sexuality underlines the prevalence of these inequities. The Church is divided over sexuality, principally same-sex relations. When same-sex relations are debated, the topic is often referred to as ‘the gay problem’. By problematizing gay people, that is, by putting them in boxes, the debate becomes skewed. This reinforces not only the disempowerment of LGBTI people, but also the disempowerment of others who do not fit the right box (the divorced, single parents, the homeless and people with disabilities). These debates highlight the deep-seated nature of the inequities in the Church, which run counter to the inclusive ministry of Jesus and undermine the divine gift of freedom. In order to restore the gift of freedom, the issue of power has to be addressed. This presentation is about power, which is a highly contested issue. On the one hand, power is a negative concept, often understood in terms of control (power over). On the other hand, power is a positive concept when understood as empowerment (power to be). In fact, we are all called to be free. This is the freedom to become who we are meant to be. And we claim this freedom, as religious communities, as we are mutually empowered.

“Teachings the Church Forgot: Jesus’ Blueprint for the Best Possible World” (Lorraine Parkinson) In the early church Jesus’ teachings were sidelined in order to identify him as the Messiah. Yet those teachings had drawn people to him. He had expanded implications of Mosaic Law to their ultimate possibilities and taught people how to build the best possible world. Gospel depictions of rivalry between Jesus and Pharisees stem from the disastrous Jewish War against the Romans (66-70 CE), when Jerusalem and Temple were destroyed. After the war, when the Pharisees developed a reformed Judaism without the Temple, they did not want Jews to follow a crucified Messiah some believed would return to overthrow the Romans. Messianic hope had already led to too many deaths. By then the Paul-influenced Jewish and Gentile Christ movement had long been waiting for Jesus the Messiah/Christ to return triumphantly from heaven – like those today awaiting the ‘Rapture’! Fourth Century Christian doctrine about Jesus the Christ stated that he was fully human and fully divine. The teacher of non-violence from the Galilee had been transformed into the divine Christ, compatible with imperialist Rome. When Emperor Constantine gathered bishops in Nicaea, the creed they wrote included none of Jesus’ teachings. This presentation will identify reasons for that, including the dangerous nature of those teachings. It will explain how belief in Jesus as imperialist Christ led to the disastrous historical alliance between church and state. It will state why rejection of imperialist Christian doctrine and a return to Jesus’ teachings is the only way toward a new reformation of Christianity.

“Midwives of Change” (Val Webb) "You are a midwife, assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: 'We did it ourselves!'.” (Tao Te Ching)

WORKSHOPS

“Memories, Conversions, and Convictions” (Marcus Borg) A participatory exploration of our life journeys using this triad. Memories: what we absorbed as we were growing up - religiously, intellectually, and politically. Conversions: major changes in those understandings. Convictions: not in the sense of dogmatic opinions, but what we have become convinced of at a deep level, so much so that only a major shaking of the foundations could change those convictions. Note: This workshop will be repeated on Saturday afternoon.

“Stop White Collar Crime. Changing the Political Religious Landscape” (Glynn Cardy) The influence of religious organizations in the political landscape of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia has changed significantly over the last 100 years. In a secular society, in a society that often mistrusts religious organizations, should those of a progressive faith persuasion try to influence political policy and outcomes, and if so how? ‘Stop White Collar Crime’ is a story of trying to address injustice within the Anglican Church [‘white collar’ referring to bishops], but like one tributary of a river it quite quickly joined with other tributaries to feed into a major national movement for social change. This workshop gives participants an opportunity to share stories about working for political change—the strategies, frustrations, and occasional successes of that—and the opportunity to learn from and support each other.

“No Creche for Christmas, Mom” (Ann Evans) This workshop is for anybody who has experienced the cultural divide between Christianity and secularism up close and personal—right in their own family! We will share our stories of grief, along with our strategies for how to stand in our own identity, sacred traditions, and spiritual practices, while respecting the modernist, secular norms of family.

“Spiritual Vitality and Intellectual Integrity: Shaping Progressive Liturgy ‘Down Under’” (Rex Hunt) Towards the end of his life, Westar Institute founder Robert Funk, issued a ‘call to arms’ on the Sunday morning experience: "throw the old forms out and start over [again]... design a new Sunday Morning experience from the ground up... new music, new liturgy, new scriptures, new ceremonies, new rites of passage". And what goals might this ‘experience’ contain? Funk made a few suggestions, some of which are listed here:

(i) it should square with and thus confirm the modern world as the horizon of our bona fide religious experience;

(ii) should have scriptures, selectively chosen, from the Bible and other sacred texts, ancient and modern;

(iii) the experience should grant permission to undertake journeys of faith into unchartered territories;

(iv) be radically inclusive, and

(v) be a celebration of life.

This workshop will explore some models based on Funk’s plea.

“Reclaiming the Bible for Religious Progressives: Performing Philemon” (Gregory Jenks) The letter to Philemon takes up less than a page in the Bible, and appears to address no significant theological issues. Yet an imaginative engagement with this brief letter can open up fresh insights into discipleship, and ways that Scripture can inform and transform our religious practice. Come prepared to get involved. Before coming to this session check the marginal notes in your Bible and/or other resources such as Bible dictionaries to which you have access, and come prepared to get involved as we 'perform' Philemon. This is one element of a typical BIBLE360 program, and normally needs more time than we will have at CD3. That is why I am asking participants to do some prior work, as I will not have time to give information about Philemon, slavery in ancient world, etc. We basically role play the letter to Philemon and then de-brief, discovering in the process that this insignificant scrap of NT has much to offer - and that it is OK to use spiritual imagination in the quest for wisdom. Historicity is not a prerequisite for truth.

“Sabotage at the Birthing Stool: Heroines & Heroes or Saboteurs of Change in Today’s Diverse, Sacred Communities?" (Aviva Kipen) There are many childbirths… Some are well prepared, labour intense but entirely bearable, appropriately supported and life-giving for the new born, affirming for the mother, celebrated by family and community; others seemingly brutal, overly demanding of birthing mother and infant, but ultimately successful. Sadly, many end before term – some endings invisible, others shared and known. Despite enormous medical progress, some deliveries do not bring new life and mothers still give up their own lives in childbirth. As metaphor for the many efforts to bring change in communities, “birth” touches us all.

Biblical midwives Shifrah and Puah were enjoined by Pharaoh to kill all Hebrew male slave infants at the moment of their delivery. They served God. Their defiance of imperial decree resulted in them emerging as heroines. Their sabotage of the Egyptian edict was, from their Hebrews’ perspective, magnificent courage. Moral code, proclaimed theology and personal conviction still dictate both intentional and unconscious subversion. Principled defiance may camouflage acts of sabotage and interpretation rests upon point of view. From which levels of response might we grapple with sabotage when churches must merge, ministers be appointed or terminated, carpets purchased, government policy confronted or head of the tea roster retired? The biblical text helps identify saboteurs and their motives and demands that we, too, take a position on such efforts, if they would confound our own ambitions. But what of our motives…?

“Midwives to the Midwives of Change” (Ian Mavor) Near the Conference’s end, this Workshop will reflect on insights from the sessions that have given meaning to the theme “Midwives of Change.” The perspective provided will draw on the Integral Philosophy of Ken Wilber, as developed in his Integral Spirituality, and Paul Smith’s application of it in Integral Christianity. The term ‘midwife’ is rich in meaning and has been taken up in contexts beyond that associated with women giving birth.

For 20 years I have been associated with Hopewell Hospice on the Gold Coast, and those involved in providing palliative care are often referred to as “midwives to the dying,” with parallels drawn between the transitions of birth and death. Hopewell’s Paradise Kids groups support children dealing with grief and loss, with each child having a trained volunteer “buddy” who provides a listening ear and supportive presence throughout the seven sessions of the program. The buddies serve a “midwife” role assisting the children to reflect on the painful process of grief. This helps the experience of loss become an opportunity to learn about life, and how to deal creatively with its challenges.

As well as being “Midwives of Change,” Conference participants can serve as elders (‘midwives’) to others in their spiritual and religious communities who can also assist the evolutionary process. In the spirit of the final step of the Twelve Step Program, having gained the benefit of this Conference, the challenge is to carry this message of growth and change to become midwives to other “Midwives of Change”.

“Midwives are ‘Hands On’: Progressive Communities and Engaged Politics” (Margaret Mayman) Using midwifery as a metaphor for our work in progressive religious communities, suggests the challenge of being “hands on” in the transformation of the world for peace and justice. Sharing the story of her faith community as it has been involved in engaged politics over the last decade (from the decriminalization of prostitution in 2003 to their current involvement in the Living Wage Campaign), Margaret will offer a model of community politics that enables an intentional faith response based on collaboration with secular groups who are working for social change. Through participation in these struggles, St Andrew’s has countered the widely held view of churches as exclusive, judgmental and other-worldly. Engagement becomes an invitation to progressive community.

“Integral Evolutionary Christianity: Waking Up, Growing Up, Showing Up, and Acting Up” (Rod Mitchell) In our modern western world where is Spirit to be found? Equally in this so called ‘modern scientific’ world which is full of exciting knowledge and technology, why is the word Evolution a ‘dirty’ word in church circles? If religious communities are to be refreshed then it’s essential to go back to the source. In other words, model its founder, not its followers. So what would a future Christian spiritual community look like if it explored in greater depth the questions of where to find Spirit in an integral evolutionary world? This workshop will examine these questions using the work of Ken Wilber as a framework. A web-site: www.pluginyes.co.nz has been set up to explain in more detail these insights, plus information directing workshop participants to books and web sources will be available to all workshop members.

“Who Can Be a Midwife for Positive Change? The Answer is in the Beatitudes?” (Lorraine Parkinson) Could it be that the ultimate guide to the best possible person is the cryptic, hard-to-fathom, intriguing set of Jesus’ sayings known as ‘The Beatitudes’? Why do they say such unrealistic, sometimes apparently nonsensical things? Can they have anything rational and helpful to say to people trying to follow Jesus’ teachings and become ‘midwives of change’? Countless preachers have tried to make sense of the Beatitudes. Some have invented ‘clever’ sermon titles like ‘The Be Happy Attitudes’, or ‘The Attitude of Gratitude’. It is true that many of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount are so difficult to follow that Christians through the ages have given up trying and adopted the ‘salvation religion’ of Jesus the Christ. Yet Jesus himself must surely have left guidelines to enable his followers to put his teachings into practice. This workshop will propose that those guidelines are in fact, the Beatitudes. The workshop will use group discussion to examine the Beatitudes for clues to the kind of person represented in each. The aim of the workshop is to reveal how by following Jesus in accordance with the Beatitudes, it is possible to become the best possible human being, the first step towards creating the best possible world – what Jesus called ‘The Kingdom of heaven’ (on earth).

“Environmental Ethics and Eco-Theology” (Noel Preston) Contemporary science and cosmology promote an eco-centric understanding of life. This workshop explores how this phenomenon has undermined traditional  western ethics (including Christian Ethics) and also monotheistic theology. Moreover, this worldview means that any credible, progressive belief system and spirituality must be centred on an eco-theology and eco-spirituality. But what do we mean by this?

“Beyond Navel-gazing: Progressive Religion and Global Citizenship” (Noel Preston) The Topic: In a paper on ethics I delivered at the Common Dreams1 Conference I alluded to the sub-theme of that conference, progressive religion as a transforming agent and pointed to the task I called cultural transformation, and then added “cultural transformation..., not reforming religion, is the primary vocation of what we call progressive theology”. As it happens, the sub-theme of this CD3 Conference is progressives re-shaping religious communities. My judgement might be a bit unfair, but that sounds a little like navel-gazing, though I fully acknowledge reshaping religious communities is a legitimate task for progressives. However, that is never an end in itself. Moreover, historically, religious communities have easily lapsed into introspection and an agenda of self-maintenance – and that is a temptation from which not even we self-styled progressives are immune. Indeed, now the era of Christendom is well and truly past, neo-orthodox, fundamentalist and progressive alike share the reality that their place in the world is uncertain and contestable.

My contention is that, both faithfulness to the best in our tradition as well as the context of the twenty–first century, require progressives (with their emphasis on orthopraxis rather than orthodoxy) to contribute to informed transformative action and dialogue in the world as a primary focus. Furthermore, this challenge coincides with a growing movement of global consciousness which is exploring the possibility of 'global citizenship', a term to be clarified in the workshop. The presenter's assumption, firstly, is that our primary identity as religious progressives is that as members of homo sapiens (within Earth's community of life) – not that of 'Christian' or 'Jewish' or 'American' or... and, secondly, that our worldview must be eco-centric – not anthropocentric or exclusive in other ways. Workshop Processes: After briefly introducing the topic, the workshop will be in two parts:

(a) what is the challenge? and

(b) what then can we do?

The symposium will be participative, employing processes such as input from the presenter, questions and answers, brainstorming, and buzz groups. The potential, collective outcome of the workshop is a call to the CD Conference to affirm co-ordinated action by progressive groups as global citizens. The dialogue of the workshop will attempt to inspire and position participants to act accordingly.

“Hospital Chaplaincy Beyond Religious Control: A Compelling Pilgrimage” (Sande Ramage) Surveying hospital staff about chaplaincy lifted the lid on the view that Christian chaplaincy is somewhat irrelevant in the healthcare system. It also highlighted curiosity and awareness about spirituality beyond religious traditions. The survey was undertaken after chaplains at Palmerston North hospital noticed some puzzling inconsistencies. For instance, they might be called to bless a room after someone died, a practice consistent with Maori spirituality, but rarely called to be with the dying person because, ‘the patient wasn’t religious.’ Limited referrals were being made to chaplains because staff understood patients, on the whole, weren’t interested in religion. Involvement in multi-disciplinary teams was prohibited because of a Privacy Commissioner ruling that marginalized chaplaincy outside the mainstream healthcare system. Given that chaplains are contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide spiritual support to patients, families and staff of all faiths and none, it was clear more exploration was needed. When asked, staff said they didn’t really understand what chaplains did but thought they would most likely work around death and dying. That didn’t make much sense given the experience that led to surveying. While one respondent reckoned spirituality was scarier than asking about sex, many more were able to offer erudite, contemporary definitions. It all seemed a bit muddled. As a result, an intriguing journey exploring spirituality and chaplaincy in the healthcare system opened up. A compelling pilgrimage focused on wondering how it would be if spirituality were an integral part of the healthcare system, beyond but not excluding religious and cultural traditions. Not surprisingly, this journey is offering theological, spiritual, cultural and structural challenges to a spirited woman trying to live and work out of a Progressive Christianity framework, inside a church that hasn’t yet explored its control of chaplaincy in New Zealand.

“Reshaping the Healing Narratives in the Light of Progressive Theology” (John W Smith) Research indicates that there are 23 examples of Jesus' ‘healing ministry’ in the canonical gospels, if we include the stories of the ‘raising of the dead.’ In reality these stories are simply just a ‘tip of the iceberg’ of Jesus' healing ministry and yet they receive little acknowledgement from New Testament scholars and theologians. The traditional interpretation of these narratives, paint a largely negative attitude towards people seeking wholeness. However, if we examine them in the light of progressive New Testament scholarship we recognise them as examples of empowerment promoting the ‘empowering tenor of the reign of God in Christian lore'.

“Ain’t It Necessarily So? Progressive Religion and Theological Education”, Panel Discussion: Dr Val Webb, Dr Greg Jenks, Prof. Marcus Borg, Jen Burns” (Moderator: Keith Rowe) This panel will address questions of the nature of theological/ministerial education for our day and in the light of the progressive criticism of inherited theologies and structures. How can we and/or the churches prepare women and men for leadership within progressive congregations? How can our theological colleges prepare men and women for ministry in a changed and changing world where Christian belief is no longer static and in a divided and often violent world where Christian wisdom and energy still has a role to play in the healing of the human family? How can theological education prepare men and women for positive engagement and cooperation with those of other faiths? Has the inherited ‘schooling’ model’ outlived its usefulness; should progressives be developing alternative forms of theological education open to both laity and clergy? The panel represents wide experience in theological and ministerial education.

Bruce Sanguin In a series of three workshops, Bruce Sanguin will lead interactive workshops on core agreements or principles of evolutionary Christianity. Using poetry and holy conversation, Bruce intends for these to be genuine workshops, in the sense of asking for critical feedback about how these three principles “land”. Because these agreements are evolving, this feedback will inform future iterations of the core agreements.

Workshop 1 “Core Agreement: Failing Bravely”. Evolution as a problem-solving process loves failure, using it to self-correct and re-organize at a higher level in the service of self-transcendence. Contrast this with the pressure to conform, reflective of traditional expressions of Christianity. How might embracing failure as spiritual practice liberate us to imagine and enact new and exciting futures? We will use the poetry of Emily Dickenson, Sri Chinmoy, and others.

Workshop 2 “Core Agreement: Facing Crisis with Hope (Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome)”. The creative impulse has met with and overcome cataclysm and unimaginable suffering over 13.7 billion years. As the presence of that creativity in human form what difference does it make to hold the various crises, social, ecological, economic, that confront us in the 21st century within the context of Big History? We will engage in a conversation about what an evidence-based, scripturally informed, hope might look like today. We will use the poetry of Christopher Frye and Canadian singer-songwriter, Bruce Cockburn.

Workshop 3 “Core Agreement: Holding Nothing Back: Surrendering to Grace”. What does it mean to ecstatically surrender ourselves to grace from within an evolutionary paradigm? By saying “yes” to the Christic, creative impulse as it arises in our life, we cultivate sufficient fluidity and openness of heart and routine to follow this impulse wherever it might lead. We will use Goethe’s poem Holy Longing and Canadian singer-songwriter, Daniel Lanois.

BOOK/DVD LAUNCHES

During the Conference two books published in time for the 3rd Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, will be launched, plus the very latest DVD from the producers of Living the Questions.

  • John W Smith & Rex A Hunt New Life: Rediscovering Faith. Stories from Progressive Christians (Mosaic Press, 2013) The influence of ‘progressive’ theological thought and biblical scholarship has had a profound impact on the professional life of many clergy, even if that thought was not gained in Theological College or Seminary. Similarly, many lay people have questioned the traditional orthodox views and beliefs. While we now have a substantial amount of information about the impact this movement has had on the beliefs and practices of clergy, surprisingly little has been published about the impact of this new information on laywomen and men within the Christian faith. This book, which is a companion to our earlier edited collection called Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on progressive Christianity, attempts in a small way to redress this in-balance. Twenty-five lay women and men who have been active in the progressive Christian movements in Australia and New Zealand, were asked to share their spiritual journey and the personal impact of their newly acquired knowledge of the human or historical Jesus of Nazareth. They were asked to describe their faith development and to share the forces that impacted on their current understanding. The resulting stories are candid, raw, challenging, and above all, honest.
  • Rex A Hunt Cards, Carols, and Claus: Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity (Mosaic Press, 2013) The festival called ‘Christmas’ is a celebration still ‘under construction’. It is a weaving of story, myth, customs and ritual. Since its inception it has been debated, ignored, celebrated, banned, and from the mid-1800s, reinvented. As such it is the most human and lovable, and easily the most popular season of the year involving nearly all the population. The Christmas customs bring to the surface a kind of public ‘everyday secular’ spirituality that is beyond the power of Christianity or the institutional church to define or control. While it seems there will always be people for whom Christmas is a pious devotion rather than a festival or carnival - often interpreting the biblical nativity narratives literally as the ‘real Christmas story’ - such people have always been in the minority. Indeed, it may not be going too far to say that Christmas has always been an extremely difficult holiday to Christianize! This exploration shares a brief story of the celebration of Christmas as a global and hybrid celebration; focuses on the Australian celebrations of Christmas as expressed through such popular culture events as (a) participation in Carols by Candlelight; (b) the sending and receiving of Christmas Cards; and (c) the popularity and traditions around the ‘red-and-white’ Santa Claus; and offers some of the suggestions and results from progressive biblical criticism of the birth narratives of Jesus/Yeshua of Nazareth and resulting doctrines from those narratives.
  • Living the Questions Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith Celebrating the communion of science and faith, Painting the Stars explores the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality. Featuring over a dozen leading theologians and progressive thinkers, the seven-session program includes a downloadable/printable participant reader (written by evolutionary theologian Bruce Sanguin) and a facilitator guide with discussion questions. The basic format for each 1-1 ½ hour session includes conversation around the readings, a 20-minute video presentation and guided discussion. "This course is a masterpiece. The content, editing and graphics are beyond first rate. Congratulations to all." (John Jacobson, Facilitator - New Smyrna Beach Theology Club.)
  • PRESENTERS & WORKSHOP LEADERS

      Professor Marcus Borg is Canon Theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, OR, USA. Known in both academic and church circles as a biblical and Jesus scholar, he held the Hundere Chair of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University until his retirement in 2007. Marcus is the author of 20 books, including Jesus: A New Vision (1987) and the best-seller Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time (1994); The God We Never Knew (1997); The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (1999); Reading the Bible Again for the First Time (2001), and The Heart of Christianity (2003), both best-sellers.

    More recent books include Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary (2006), a New York Times Best-Seller; Conversations with Scripture: Mark (2009); three books co-authored with John Dominic Crossan, The Last Week (2006), The First Christmas (2007), and The First Paul (2009): his first novel, Putting Away Childish Things (April, 2010); and Speaking Christian (April, 2011). His newest book is Evolution of the Word, a chronological New Testament in which the documents- books of the New Testament are printed in the chronological order in which they were written, with introductions to each (August, 2012).

    Described by The New York Times as "a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars," he has appeared on NBC's Today Show and Dateline, PBS's Newshour, ABC’s Evening News and Prime Time with Peter Jennings, NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and several National Geographic programs. A Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, he has been national chair of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and co-chair of its International New Testament Program Committee, and is past president of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars.  His work has been translated into eleven languages: German, Dutch, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and French. His doctor's degree is from Oxford University, and he has lectured widely overseas (England, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Israel and South Africa) and in North America, including the Chautauqua and Smithsonian Institutions.

    Revd Sonya Brown was ordained in July 2010 and is Assistant Curate at St Philip’s Church of England, Leicester.  The parish “is a Muslim parish in the heart of Leicester.  I'm heavily involved in interfaith dialogue there and run a minority Christian church in a Muslim community”.  She is a Committee Member of Progressive Christianity Network Britain.

    Previously to beginning training for ordination she worked as a Development Worker for the Southwark diocesan (Church of England) organisation Welcare.

    She enjoys living and learning in the very multi-faith context of Leicester.  She holds an inclusive theology and would really like to share with the world that you can be young, be liberal and be passionate about faith!

      Revd Glynn Cardy was for several years the vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, a progressive downtown church regularly in the news.  In July he announced his resignation from St Matthew’s to accept a Call to become the minister at The Community of St Luke (Presbyterian) in Auckland.

    Glynn is married to Stephanie, and is father to Michael, Andrew, Maria, and Anna.  They have one dog, and two cats.

    Glynn has lived and worked in a wide range of socio-economic and multi-racial communities.  He has one legal conviction: for disturbing the peace.

    Revd Dr Peter Catt is President of A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc. and the 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 was 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 served on Anglican Social Justice Committees at both Diocesan and National level.

      Dr Ann Evans is a Marital and Family therapist working in Vancouver, Canada, and also doing intensive couple work in other parts of the world. Previously for 20 years she taught pastoral counselling and dream interpretation at The Toronto School of Theology, Victoria University, Toronto. She also ran a training program for therapists in training and is a supervisor with AAMFT. The past president of The British Columbia branch of AAMFT, Ann began her professional life as a clergy person with The United Church of Canada. Most importantly she is a grandmother to four youngsters age 13 to 7.
     

    Revd David Felten is Pastor at Fountains United Methodist Church, Fountain Hills, Arizona. A native of Phoenix, David received a music education degree from Arizona State University before attending Boston University School of Theology where he earned his MDiv in Biblical Studies and History. Before completing Chaplaincy training at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, David spent a year studying as a Rotary Graduate Scholar at Perth Theological Hall of Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia where he received an Honours degree.

    David spent eight years as Associate Pastor and Co-pastor at Epworth United Methodist in West Phoenix and was appointed to start a new church in the Northeast Scottsdale area in July of 1998. Starting from scratch, Via de Cristo grew into a dynamic faith community serving a niche group of spiritual seekers and those who would otherwise be “church alumni”.

    In an effort to offer educational materials that were not being produced by other publishers, David and fellow United Methodist pastor, Jeff Procter-Murphy, created a new curriculum for Progressive Christians called Living the Questions. Developed at Via de Cristo and Asbury United Methodist, what started out as just one DVD series is now a growing catalog of curriculum, including the new series, “DreamThinkBeDo,” “Saving Jesus Redux,” “Matt & Lucy’s Version Births” (a Children’s Christmas Pageant), and a series questioning capital punishment with Sr Helen Prejean. LtQ curriculum is now in use in nearly 6,000 churches in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand.

    David and co-author, Jeff Procter-Murphy, published their first book together in 2012: Living the Questions, the Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.

     

    Revd Rex A E Hunt is a retired Uniting Church in Australia minister, Founder and Life Member of The Network of Biblical Storytellers Australia/New Zealand, Founding Director and Life Member of The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra, and an Associate of the Westar Institute. He is also Chair of the Common Dreams Conference for Religious Progressives.

    In 2012 he published a collection of progressive sermons called Against the Stream. Progressive Christianity between Pulpit and Pew (Mosaic Press, 2012), and has edited two books with John W Smith: (i) Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on Progressive Christianity (Polebridge Press, 2013). and (ii) New Life: Rediscovering Faith. Stories from Progressive Christians (Mosaic Press, 2013)  His latest book on Christmas is called Cards, Carols, and Claus: Christmas in Popular Culture and Progressive Christianity (Mosaic Press, 2013) will be launched at CD3.  Rex was a Presenter at the CD1 Conference (2007) in Sydney.

      Revd Dr Gregory C Jenks [www.gregoryjenks.com] is Academic Dean at St Francis Theological College, Brisbane and a co-director of the Bethsaida Excavations in Israel. His recent publications have included The Once and Future Bible: An Introduction to the Bible for Religious Progressives (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and The Once and Future Scriptures: Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church (Polebridge/Mosaic, 2013).

    His workshop will offer a taste of the BIBLE360 program (www.bible260.org.au) developed by Greg in 2012 as an introduction to the Bible for Brisbane Anglicans, and now used more widely in the Australian Anglican community. Greg was a Presenter at the CD1 Conference (2007) in Sydney.

      Rabbi Aviva Kipen was born in Melbourne and in 1991 became the first Australian woman ordained to the Rabbinate following her training at Leo Baeck College, London. Aviva returned to Australia in 1995 after postings in the UK and NZ. She worked on staff at the Temple Beth Israel and Bentleigh Progressive Synagogue and now works in a ministry beyond congregational walls, serving Bet Olam Jewish Funerals, in Greater Melbourne and country Victoria (frequently officiating for mixed faith families) and for the Union for Progressive Judaism in the region. Aviva has taught for MCD University of Divinity and the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria and her strong pastoral involvement underpins extensive work in grief and loss, including corporate chaplaincy.

    A member of Australia’s delegation to the ASEAN Regional Interfaith Dialogue Phnom Penh conference, Ad Hom Fellow of Ormond College, Melbourne University and past member of several Victorian human research ethics committees, Aviva was appointed to the Australian Health Ethics Committee in 2012. She continues to work in churches by invitation and conducted workshops at the invitation of Wes Hartley and Jeremy Greaves in 2011 and was a guest of the Anglican Diocese of Perth on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of women’s ordination in Australia in 2012. Aviva was a Workshop Presenter/Panelist at the CD2 Conference (2010) in Melbourne.

      Revd Dr Nigel Leaves is Canon of St. John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, Australia, where he is responsible for adult theological education. He is Adjunct Lecturer in Theology at Charles Sturt University. He has a PhD in Theology from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, an MA(Dist) in Religious Education from King's College, London, and an MA in Theology from Keble College, Oxford University.

    A highly regarded conference speaker and educator, Leaves has lectured in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. He is author of four books including The God Problem and Religion Under Attack and is currently at work on a new book entitled Which Jesus? Whose Christ? He has recently contributed towards The Once and Future Scripture (February 2013) and Why Weren’t We Told? (January 2013).

    He is married to another priest and is a ‘golfing tragic’ (current handicap of 9).

      • Revd Dr Ian Mavor, OAM, FACE. The Gold Coast charity Hopewell Hospice Services Inc was founded in 1993 by Ian Mavor and Deirdre Hanna, who had the vision of a place of hospitality for the dying. The Hospice provides residential palliative care, Paradise Kids supports children and families dealing with grief, loss and illness, and Hopewell Education Services provides volunteer training and community education in areas such as Grief Counselling, Palliative Care and Suicide Intervention.

    Ian is Executive Director of Hopewell, and previous roles have included serving as Executive Director, Lifeline Gold Coast; Principal Education Officer (Health & Personal Development), Education Queensland; Master of King’s College, University of Queensland; Dean of the Brisbane College of Theology; and Leader of the Queensland Religious Education Curriculum Project.

    Ian’s doctoral studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Union Theological Seminary, New York, were in Curriculum Theory applied to dealing with religion in educational contexts. He has continued to develop his academic interests in a range of fields and for the past 23 years has found the writings of Integral Philosopher, Ken Wilber, particularly valuable as a way of drawing diverse points of view into a coherent summary.

    From a lifetime of community service, Ian has well developed communication skills, including an ability to listen to a wide range of opinions. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators and in 2002 was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) “for service to the community through a range of church, social welfare, education and health groups.” He was a workshop presenter at the CD2 (2010) Conference in Melbourne.

      Revd Dr Margaret Mayman minister at St Andrew’s on The Terrace, Wellington, New Zealand since 2002.  After ordination she studied in New York and gained a PhD in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary.  At St Andrew’s, Margaret led the congregation through a change process in which they have consciously identified as a progressive congregation with a mission to ‘seek the welfare of the city’.  They practice a ministry of inclusive hospitality and seek to participate in the public square of New Zealand’s capital city. As chair of the St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society, she has developed programs that bring religious and ethical insights into dialogue with the issues of the secular city.

     

    Margaret has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns, most recently in support of Marriage Equality and the Living Wage.  In 2010 she was awarded an international fellowship to the Kettering Foundation in Ohio where she researched faith communities' engagement in community politics.

     

    Margaret presented at Common Dreams 2 and she did a Common Dreams on the Road series in four Australian cities in 2011.

    Margaret’s interests include queer spirituality, human rights advocacy, refugee issues, peace, and economic and sexual justice. She lives with her partner Clare, who is also a Presbyterian minister, and her son Andrew, a unique and wonderful person with autism.  In December, Margaret will become minister at Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney.

     

    Revd Dr Rodney Mitchell writes “I have, throughout my life, been a keen explorer of what it means to be a spiritual person in a traditional, modern, post-modern and integral evolutionary world. As a minister, educator and counsellor who has worked in parish, social service agencies and the education sector in the United Kingdom, America, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, some tentative insights have emerged.

    In recent times I have begun to reassess my participation in a form of Christianity that I see as dangerously stuck and static while another world, exciting and dynamic, cries out for co-operation, creativity and genuine participation. I am delighted to participate in Common Dreams 3 Conference, and seek with others, to create a better future."

      Revd Dr Steven Ogden is Principal of St Francis Anglican Theological College Brisbane, as well as an adjunct lecturer at Charles Sturt University. He is formerly Dean of St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide, SA. Over the years, Steven has had the opportunity to work with political, business and community leaders. He has been interviewed regularly on radio, here and overseas, on ethical, social and religious matters.

    As a speaker and writer, Steven celebrates the worth of human beings and encourages the creation of communities of hope, working with compassion for justice. His latest book is a popular work called Love Upside Down: Life: Love and the Subversive Jesus. He is presently writing an academic work on freedom, power and the Church.

      Revd Dr Lorraine Parkinson is a retired Minister of the Uniting Church. Her ministry included city parishes and part-time university chaplaincy. She was widowed in 1987 and in 2007 married widower, the Rev Dr John Bodycomb, combining a family of six children and sixteen grandchildren. Lorraine began Arts at Melbourne University in 1989, majoring in Jewish Studies. That included biblical and modern Hebrew and the Aramaic of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Her theology degree expanded an interest in biblical studies and languages, including New Testament Greek and Coptic. A Master’s thesis on the historical Jesus was extended to a doctoral dissertation researched in Jerusalem at the École biblique et archaéologique et francais Jérusalem and Cambridge University, UK.

    Lorraine has written and led study series on the historical Jesus for various congregations and in 2010 she published a book, The World According to Jesus: his blueprint for the best possible world. Her current book concerns the portrait of Jesus as Messiah painted by gospel writers. She has lectured and led seminars on these and other subjects including Theodicy (the problem of evil in a world created by a good God), in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

    Jewish Studies included study of the Holocaust, which equipped Lorraine for extensive involvement in Christian-Jewish relations in the Uniting Church at Synod and Assembly levels, including 10 years on the national dialogue between the Uniting Church and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Lorraine is Vice-President of the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria and Convener of a group of progressive clergy in Melbourne.

      Revd Dr Noel Preston, AM, is an ethicist, theologian and social commentator currently Adjunct Professor in the Key Centre for Ethics, Law Justice and Governance, Griffith University. He retired in November 2004 as the founding Director of the UnitingCare Centre for Social Justice. Previously (from 1987–2001) he held senior academic positions at Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University in the fields of Applied and Professional Ethics. He is currently on the Committee of Earth Charter Australia. He has been a regular public commentator on social ethics.

    Among seven books he has sole or co-authored and edited, his introductory textbook Understanding Ethics was reissued as a revised third edition in late 2007 with major additions and updates. In 2007 he also edited and contributed to an issue of the journal Social Alternatives themed “Global Ethics”. In 2006 he delivered the Aquinas Lecture at the Australian Catholic University: “Ethics san frontieres: toward the vocation of Global Citizenship”. In 2004 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community in the field of ethics.

    In his capacity as a social justice campaigner since the early 1970s and as a minister of the Uniting Church he has previously held leadership roles in various church social justice portfolios including inaugural Convenor of the Uniting Church’s Assembly Commission on Social Responsibility, Queensland Director of Action for World Development and Executive Officer of the Victorian Synod Division of Social Justice. He has been the founding chair/convenor of the Queensland social action groups Concerned Christians (1976), People for Nuclear Disarmament(1983), Citizens Against Corruption (1988).  In 2006 he published a memoir/social history Beyond the Boundary: A memoir exploring ethics, politics and spirituality (Zeus Publications).

    Noel is a grandfather and father of two daughters and a son. In retirement, he currently lives in Wellington Point with his wife Olga Harris. Noel was a Presenter at the CD1 Conference (2007) in Sydney.

     

    Revd Dr Alan Race was ordained in the Church of England in 1976 and has worked in settings as varied as parish ministry, university chaplaincy, ordination training, and interfaith education.

    Alan is a Committee Member of the Progressive Christianity Network Britain.  He has pursued an interest in dialogue between faith traditions for most of his ministry and has written and edited a number of books in this area.  He is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Interreligious Insight.

     

     

    Revd Sande Ramage is a writer, hospital chaplain and Anglican priest with a background in health promotion, public health and change management.

    She is companion to Kali, the Black Labrador, whose Zen approach is inspirational as Sande blogs at spiritedcrone.com and curates the Moments page for the Vaughan Park Anglican Retreat Centre.

     

      Revd Bruce Sanguin is a minister of the United Church of Canada, previously at Canadian Memorial Church and Centre for Peace in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and a member of the British Columbia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. His passion is evolutionary and ecological theology. He has authored several books including The Advance of Love and If Darwin Prayed. www.brucesanguin.com.
     

    • Revd John W H Smith was ordained as a ‘Minister of the Word’ in 1974. His ministries in the Uniting Church include welfare management, chaplaincy and parish ministry. A trained social worker, John is recognised for his pioneering work with children, including the establishment of non-residential programs for young offenders. He worked with adults with intellectual disabilities, developing ‘least restrictive’ innovative programs.

    John is a founding member of the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria. He is also a member and serves on the planning teams for Common Dreams conferences and ‘Common Dreams on the Road’.  John is currently the parish minister at St Andrew’s Uniting Church Box Hill. He is an Associate of the Westar Institute.

    John is co-editor with Rex Hunt of Why Weren’t We Told? A Handbook on Progressive Christianity (Polebridge Press, 2013) and New Life: Rediscovering Faith. Stories from Progressive Christians (Mosaic Press, 2013). He was a Workshop presenter at the CD1 Conference (2007) in Sydney.

      • Dr Val Webb holds a graduate degree in Science and a PhD in Theology. Her professional career has included microbiology, business, public relations, art and religious studies. Born and educated in Brisbane, Australia, Val lived for almost thirty years in the United States.

    During a period back in Brisbane in the 1980's, she held leadership positions in the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia. She has taught religious studies and world religions at universities in the United States and Australia and has written ten books, the most recent an expanded edition of her popular book In Defence of Doubt: An Invitation to Adventure. Val writes for those who call themselves spiritual rather than religious, those disenchanted with organised religion and those simply fascinated with the human search for meaning.

    Bishop Jack Spong says of her: “Val Webb is one of the most exciting Christian voices in the 21st Century”. Val continues her teaching and speaking engagements in Australia and overseas from her home base of Mudgee, NSW.

    Margaret has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns, most recently in support of Marriage Equality and the Living Wage.  In 2010 she was awarded an international fellowship to the Kettering Foundation in Ohio where she researched faith communities' engagement in community politics.

    Margaret presented at Common Dreams 2 and she did a Common Dreams on the Road series in four Australian cities in 2011.

    Margaret’s interests include queer spirituality, human rights advocacy, refugee issues, peace, and economic and sexual justice. She lives with her partner Clare, who is also a Presbyterian minister, and her son Andrew, a unique and wonderful person with autism.  In December, Margaret will become minister at Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney.





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